In his first national appearance as an SEC head coach, Kevin Sumlin handled himself like a veteran. Sumlin was confident, personable and avoided creating any bulletin board material for his new conference foes.
One thing that stuck out during the interview was Sumlin lauding the talent that the Aggies will face this year. Sumlin pointed out that the Aggies will face off against the last six national champions, including Florida, LSU, Alabama and Auburn.
This begs the question: Do the Aggies have the toughest schedule in the SEC?
The answer is yes.
The Aggies have a tough road in their inaugural SEC season, starting with what could be a trap game at Louisiana Tech before playing Florida at Kyle Field. The game has been listed to start at 3:30 ET on ESPN, which could be a blessing for the Gators, as an early start time usually means a less boisterous and amped 12th man.
After a quick trip to SMU, A&M will again be tested as they play Arkansas. Tyler Wilson is an early Heisman candidate and will lead one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation. The Razorbacks have had some major distractions off the field this offseason but Wilson can chuck the ball. Will the Aggies' new 3-4 defense be ready in time to handle the Razorback's aerial attack?
After a trip to Ole Miss and a bye week, A&M will have a stretch of games that puts them in the "most difficult conference schedule" discussion. On October 20, the Aggies will host LSU. Then, in three consecutive weeks, they'll travel to Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama.
LSU brings back one of the top defenses in the country and, after a rather pronounced QB controversy last year, a lot of hope in a new quarterback. Auburn will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing year and is always a dangerous team. Dan Mullen and Mississippi underperformed last season but will not roll over for anyone and could give the Aggies a tough game.
Playing at Alabama is an experience. Bryant-Denny is one of the biggest stadiums in the country, and every Saturday it is filled with some of the most rabid fans in all of college football. The defending national champions will be looking to repeat, and A&M is in their way.
Rounding out the schedule is Sam Houston State and fellow SEC newcomer Missouri, both at home.
While some other teams gave the Aggies a run for their money for toughest schedule, that four-game stretch is similar to Florida's four-game stretch of Auburn, LSU, Alabama and Georgia. The Gators went 0-4 in those games a season ago.
Yes, Aggie Nation, you have already been welcomed into the SEC. But, after playing out this schedule, you will truly earn your SEC stripes.