Texas A&M will not evolve into Alabama overnight. And any belief following last season's 11-2 finish that the Aggies would suddenly emerge as the dominant power in the Southeastern Conference was delusional.
This isn't to say A&M won't eventually develop into a powerhouse program within the league, especially considering the Aggies' natural advantages. As the only SEC resident within the state of Texas, A&M owns the edge in recruiting over other league members who attempt to snare top prospects and nonconference rivals aiming to remain a state-wide power.
However, despite the Aggies' recruiting explosion over the course of the past two seasons, A&M is still years away from being on the level of current conference powerhouses such as Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU.
As for the magical 2012 season, A&M ultimately achieved notable success behind a culmination of colliding factors, many of which were that were just plain fortunate. The emergence of Johnny Manziel combined with the A&M program catching off guard unsuspecting SEC opponents who were overlooking the new kid on the block and, suddenly, the Aggies had "arrived."
Not so fast.
The highly anticipated 2013 season failed to live up to fan expectations, as the Aggies' fell to 8-4, including two losses to LSU and Missouri to close the regular season. The disappointment of how the season ended was immediate, as analysts and fans believed Manziel's encore season under center would end with a conference title rather than a fourth place finish.
However, the program's high-level executives thought otherwise, as the university proceeded to extend head coach Kevin Sumlin's contract with a six-year, $30 million deal on Thursday.
An 8-4 finish may not have lived up to the expectations of the A&M faithful, but considering the level of competition and the Aggies' current situation regarding recruiting and overall talent, 8-4 was on par with where A&M should be as an SEC program. The "fluke" that was 2012 served as a catalyst for future success down the road. But considering all factors, racking up eight to nine wins per year is exactly where the Aggies need to be for later triumph to be possible.
The same goes for Missouri, who finished 5-7 in 2012 but 11-2 with a loss in the SEC title game in 2013. The Tigers have enough talent to be competitive within the SEC, but the fanbase should have no expectations that Mizzou will attend the conference championship game every season. On the other hand, below-.500 finishes should also be out of the question.
Developing a powerhouse program takes time, the right coach and consistent success on the field. Currently, A&M owns two of those advantages, but the time factor needs to mature, and fans needs to adjust their expectations while Sumlin continues to evolve this program.
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