Can Texas A&M Wrestle the State Away from the Longhorns for Good?
Texas A&M, through its instant success in the SEC, has become the headliner of the realignment movement in college football. After decades living in the shadow of the Texas Longhorns, the Aggies have tangible hope that shadow is fading.
The SEC has supplied the last seven national champions in a row, and the Aggies came close to getting into the national championship game this past season.
Without losses to Florida and LSU, the Aggies would have been in the SEC title game against Georgia by virtue of their win over eventual national champion Alabama.
With all these things working for the Aggies, can Texas A&M take the state of Texas away from the Longhorns permanently?
The Common Rival: Oklahoma Sooners
Over the past few seasons, Oklahoma has played both Texas and Texas A&M. Here are the results of each game:
2010: Oklahoma 28, Texas 20 and Texas A&M 33, Oklahoma 19
2011: Oklahoma 55, Texas 17 and Oklahoma 41, Texas A&M 25
2012: Oklahoma 63, Texas 21 and Texas A&M 41, Oklahoma 13 (Cotton Bowl)
Texas A&M is 2-1 vs. Oklahoma over the past three seasons, while Texas is 0-3. Even in 2011, when both Texas teams lost to Oklahoma, the Aggies lost by just 16 points, and the Longhorns lost by 38.
What does this do for Texas A&M? It improves its reputation in the state. While the hostile takeover is going to take more than a few years of supremacy, consistently winning the comparison test against Oklahoma is a great start.
Recruiting Chops: All-Americans
One of the best examples of the combination of good recruiting and good coaching is the All-American count. It shows that the coaches can take talent and develop it instead of letting the recruits fall through the cracks.
Here are the postseason AP All-America selections for Texas and Texas A&M over the past three seasons:
2010: Von Miller, Texas A&M (First Team); Sam Acho, Texas (Third Team)
2011: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M (First Team); Emmanuel Acho, Texas (Third Team)
2012: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (First Team); Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (First Team); Damontre Moore, Texas A&M (Second Team); Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (Third Team)
If you consider all selections equal, then Texas A&M has six members of the last three AP All-America Teams, with four coming in 2012 alone.
Texas has two total and zero in 2012. Putting players on the All-America Team is the first step toward owning the recruiting trail.
Recruiting Results: Class Rankings
The various pieces of success throughout the season, like All-Americans and wins over major programs, add up to real recruiting success. This is a limited sample of recruiting classes, but it highlights the Aggies' move to the SEC.
Here are the recruiting class rankings (from ESPN) for Texas and Texas A&M since 2010:
2011: Texas ranked No. 5, and Texas A&M was not in the top 25
2012: Texas ranked No. 3, and Texas A&M was No. 15
2013: Texas ranked No. 16, and Texas A&M was No. 8
This is a good snapshot of the change that has taken place over the past few years in the state. Texas was just coming off an appearance in the BCS title game against Alabama when it immediately scored the 2010 class.
In 2011, Texas was still enjoying the high that comes after a title appearance, and Texas A&M was still far behind the Longhorns in prestige.
In 2012, the public had already been made aware that Texas A&M was moving to the SEC for the 2012 season, but the move was not yet official. It still helped the Aggies sign a top-15 recruiting class.
The 2013 cycle was a direct result of Texas A&M's successful first year in the SEC. After coming within a single win of playing for the SEC title, the Aggies passed Texas in the recruiting rankings.
Plus, the Aggies are already on track to take the 2014 state recruiting title as well.
With Mack Brown still suffering from not having a great quarterback for the Longhorns, Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies are poised to continue being the better of the two teams at least until Johnny Manziel graduates.
However, the question is whether the Aggies can take the state permanently. Texas A&M has used the SEC's dominance and its own on-field supremacy to build one of the hardest-hitting, highest-scoring teams in the conference.
That conference has put a one-loss champion in the last two BCS National Championship Games, where the Big 12's one-loss champion (Oklahoma State, 2011 and Kansas State, 2012) has been shut out of the event.
If the SEC continues to dominate and give the Aggies access to better bowl games than the Big 12, then the Longhorns are destined to be in their shadow for the foreseeable future.
The strength of Texas A&M inside the strongest conference in the country has given the Aggies the edge over Texas for the time being.
Can the Aggies wrestle Texas away from the Longhorns for good? Yes, and they have already started.