At 2-2 in league play it’s pretty clear that Texas A&M won’t win the SEC in its first year, but have you ever wondered how the new-look Aggies with super-frosh QB Johnny Manziel would have fared in the Big 12 this season?
Yes, what if the defectors would have been the stay-putters and Sumlin, Manziel and the No. 9 ranked scoring offense in college football would have been inserted squarely in what is currently a wide-open Big 12 race?
Could Texas A&M have captured its first conference title since 1998 and if they had (and gone to the BCS in the bargain) while Texas continued to flounder, what could have this scenario done to stabilize the Aggies long-term place in the Big 12?
Furthermore, what would the knock-on effect have been if A&M wasn’t a major domino in conference realignment and would there have ultimately been less shuffling or perhaps another huge shift that didn’t involve the Aggies?
The first key to all of this lofty talk is could Texas A&M really win the Big 12 in 2012?
To analyze this possibility we’ll assume that if the Aggies had of stayed then so too would have Missouri and that both West Virginia (from the Big East) and TCU (from the Mountain West, or the Big East) would have stayed put, at least for one more year.
As of now the new-look Aggies have the No. 9 ranked scoring offense in the country and they are No. 19 in rushing yards per game and No. 17 in passing.
On the other side of the ball, A&M is ranked No. 38 in scoring defense, No. 46 vs. the run and No. 90 against the pass—all numbers that are pulled directly off their stat sheets through Week 8 of the 2012 season.
In the reality of what is Texas A&M as a member of the SEC West, the Aggies will face (or have faced) eight SEC foes (we’ll throw out all the non-conference opponents because they’ll have been common in both scenarios) who combine to rank, on average, No. 37 nationally in scoring defense and No. 59 in scoring offense.
This number includes the extremes of Alabama’s No. 1 ranked scoring defense vs. Arkansas’ No. 90 ranking in point-stoppage and the Tide’s No. 14 rated scoring offense vs. Auburn’s dismal No. 121 attack.
If you replace the Aggies’ 2012 SEC opponent’s with the nine teams that were in the Big 12 last season (a number which includes Missouri) they currently (again, as of today) combine to rank No. 58 in scoring defense and No. 37 in scoring offense.
Extremes in the Big 12 include Oklahoma’s No. 12 ranked scoring defense vs. Baylor’s dubious No. 124 ranked unit and then Baylor’s No. 3 ranked scoring offense vs. a Kansas O that ranks No. 117 in points.
Basically what this all means is that if A&M’s big game offense was still playing in the Big 12 they’d be facing defenses that rank No. 58 in scoring vs. those of their 2012 SEC foes that rank No. 37.
That’s a big difference that would likely equal even more yards and points for a program that has unleashed freshman Johnny Manziel and ushered in the new Kevin Sumlin era in College Station.
Flipping around to the other side of the ball, because it ain’t all about point scoring, we see that Texas A&M’s No. 38 ranked scoring defense in 2012 will face the No. 59 ranked offensive attacks of the SEC (at least the eight members the Aggie play this season).
Alternatively, if they would have stayed “home” the Aggies would have dealt with the No. 37 ranked point scorers from the points-happy Big 12.
This number should be quantified by further stating that the Ags weakness on defense, their No. 90 ranking vs. the pass, only squares off with the No. 80 ranked passing attack in the SEC vs. the guys who combine for a No. 52 ranking in the Big 12.
Though based on these numbers you could almost call it a draw when you balance the SEC’s defensive strength (that has and probably will continue to hinder Manziel and Co. in league play) with the Big 12’s offensive brute force (that would wreak havoc on A&M’s pass defense) the Aggies still look better suited to win the Big 12 in 2012.
Well, first you’ve got to wonder how different the numbers would look if Texas A&M had earned its 2012 stats vs. the likes of Baylor’s epically bad defense along with Texas’ and Kansas’ very questionable units.
Really, how many more yards would they have gained (and therefore who could they have outscored) vs. these guys as opposed to Florida, LSU and Alabama’s defenses?
It’s a different scenario entirely.
Next, let’s say A&M actually won the SEC-West—then they’d have to really shock the world and win the SEC title game…aka the gateway to the BCS title.
In the Big 12 all they would have had to do was emerge at the end of the season with one-less conference loss than the rest of the pack.
Though you could effectively argue that Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M would have had to work really hard to win the Big 12 in 2012, what would both young QB and young team in a new coaching regime done in 2013, 2014 and 2015 as they grew together into maturity in their old league home?
The flip side of this long term coin is what will the Aggies and Johnny Football do when teams like Alabama and LSU just fill holes with more talented players and teams like Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn continue to improve?
And then what happens when South Carolina, Georgia or Tennessee hit the slate from the East?
Texas A&M football seems to be moving in the right direction (finally) but it makes you wonder what would have happened if the Aggies hadn’t of pulled up stakes relatively suddenly and moved eastward.
Could they have actually been sitting on a gold mine of titles and accolades that hadn’t yet hatched?
Indeed, did Texas A&M ride off into the sunset in the name of injustice while in an ironic twist they left town just before their ship was about to reach the dock?