The 2012 regular season is complete for the Texas A&M football team, and it is now time to reflect. The Aggies surprised everyone with their 10-2 season and 6-2 conference record.
The Ags were expected to struggle after a mediocre 7-6 season in 2011 season and their move from the Big 12 to the stronger Southeastern Conference. Their early success in the league of champions has helped flip the script on how the program is viewed in the state of Texas and nationally.
When Texas A&M president Bowen Loftin discussed making a "100-year decision" many scoffed at him and claimed the move was simply a money grab. The football team's performance and the national recognition it has received is exactly the type spotlight that Loftin hoped the SEC would bring to A&M.
This is a postseason look at why the move from the Big 12 to the SEC has proven to be the correct choice.
Does anyone know who Dan Lefevour is? In 2007 Lefevour became the second player in the history of college football to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. At the time he was the sophomore quarterback at Central Michigan.
The first player to accomplish that feat was Vince Young at Texas. Neither of those players won the Heisman Trophy.
Aggie freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is the favorite to win the trophy because he plays football in the SEC. No one questions the validity of his numbers because he plays against the top defenses in the country on a weekly basis.
Manziel and Luke Joeckel are both finalists for multiple national awards. When you perform in the SEC, you are recognized nationally.
The Ags' move from the Big 12 to the SEC was in part made to escape what they viewed as a regional approach to branding. Jason Cook has stated multiple times while interviewed on TexAgs radio, that the licensing revenue for A&M has gone up 25 percent since joining the SEC.
The Aggies played on national television six times during the 2012 season. In 2011 in the Big 12 the Aggies played on national television two times.
The SEC gives you a national stage to show off what your university offers athletically and academically.
The biggest difference between the Big 12 and the SEC can be summed up in one word, "respect." The Texas A&M program is treated as an equal member of the conference.
In the Big 12 the conference office was too concerned about the wants and needs of one school above all others. In the SEC, every school has a say.
The fans in the SEC are more dedicated and more respectful than the ones in the Big 12. The Aggies went 6-0 on the road in 2012 and managed to go through the entire season without a goalpost being shoved into their section after a game.
The respect extends to the voters too. There are currently two, two-loss teams from the SEC ranked in the Top 10 of the BCS poll. The Big 12 does not have any two-loss teams in the Top 10.
The players even respect each other. LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery has openly endorsed Johnny Manziel for the Heisman.
The tailgating in the SEC is obviously better than any other conference in the country. Texas A&M fans have traveled all over the South and experienced great hospitality from their new conference-mates.
It will be hard to find a better experience for fan or player than the November 10 victory over then No. 1 Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The opportunity to beat the best team in the nation in front of 100,000-plus fans on national television simply does not exist in the Big 12.
Much has been made of the assertion that the Aggies play a "Big 12" style of offense. The simple fact of the matter is that the Ags offense is a hybrid of the offense that Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury brought over from Conference USA, tweaked to take advantage of Johnny Manziel's talents.
The SEC features a variety of offenses. The Aggies run Sumlin's version of the spread. Mississippi State runs Dan Mullen's version of the spread-option attack.
Alabama, Florida and LSU run a pro-style offense. Georgia runs the West Coast offense with elements of the spread mixed into it.
There are all these different kinds of offenses in the SEC, yet teams still manage to field incredible defenses. Fans are not subjected to the 70-63 five-hour long shootouts that you get in the Big 12.
It was evident from the beginning that the SEC is a different ballgame when it comes to how you are treated by fellow programs and the media.
It is more than simply having an equal say in everything at the conference level. Compare how the SEC Media Days were broadcast on ESPN to how the Big 12 Media Days were presented.
In the SEC, you can go watch a video box score of each game, and you can literally click on the statistics and see the plays.
There is no such product on the Big 12 website. The SEC goes out of its way to be the best in every endeavor. It leads to a better experience for the fans, media and the athletes.