Ever since Texas A&M announced that it was going to join the Southeastern Conference, media and Internet pundits have derided the decision as a mistake and referenced the struggles that South Carolina and Arkansas went through the last time the SEC expanded. Comparing Texas A&M to those two schools is asinine.
The Aggies have multiple inherent advantages that those two programs do not possess. The biggest advantage is the access to the fertile recruiting grounds in Texas.
According to Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine, in the 2012 recruiting class the state of Texas produced 369 high school football players who received Division I football scholarships. Per usual the state led the nation in this category followed by Florida and California.
South Carolina produced 34 Division I football recruits, while Arkansas put out 26. The value of being the only SEC school in the greatest talent producing state in the country cannot be overemphasized.
While Arkansas needs to recruit in Texas to be a successful college football program, Texas A&M does not need to get anyone out of Arkansas to be an elite program. A&M has not signed a recruit from a high school in South Carolina in the past 20 years.
If an Aggies coach wants to find SEC talent, he can simply hop in the car and drive to Houston or one of the many football powerhouses in East Texas. If an Arkansas or South Carolina coach wants to find SEC talent, they routinely have to go out of state.
The Aggie coaches have access to better recruits which should result in better teams on the field. The states of Arkansas and South Carolina combined cannot come close to matching the talent available every year in the Houston area.
The Aggies have had more recent success on the field than Arkansas and South Carolina did before they entered the SEC. A&M had a disappointing 2011 with a 7-6 record, but has won 16 games over the past two years.
Arkansas went 9-14 in the two years before it entered the SEC in 1992. South Carolina was 9-11-2 during its two seasons before they joined the SEC. The Aggies have a better nucleus of talent on campus than either of those two programs did when they joined the conference.
South Carolina had traditionally been a basketball school before joining the SEC. While the Aggies rank No. 18 all time in number of football victories, South Carolina is not in the top 50 and ranks behind well known football powerhouses like Kansas and Louisiana Tech.
With their greater access to talent combined with the current crop of players already on campus, the Aggies should be able to see success on the field sooner than South Carolina and Arkansas did when they joined the conference.
The SEC is where Texas A&M belongs. As Kevin McGuire of the College Football Examiner pointed out, the Aggies are a good fit with the other schools in their new conference. Anyone predicting A&M's impending doom is either ignoring the facts or has ulterior motives.
The Ags should see success sooner rather than later in the SEC.