Mike Strange: Texas A&M's profile long on success

News Sentinel
Tennessee running back Gerald Riggs, left, gets past Texas A&M's Byron Jones, center, and Jaxson Appel to score during the Vols' 38-7 Cotton Bowl victory over the Aggies on Jan. 1, 2005.

Photo by Amy Smotherman

News Sentinel Tennessee running back Gerald Riggs, left, gets past Texas A&M's Byron Jones, center, and Jaxson Appel to score during the Vols' 38-7 Cotton Bowl victory over the Aggies on Jan. 1, 2005.

When we talk SEC expansion and Texas A&M, what's your first image?

Probably Tennessee (or fill in the blank) running on to Kyle Field on a Saturday afternoon. The Yell Leaders, the 12th Man, Reveille and Smokey barking at each other.

Naturally. Football is driving the train.

But if/when the Aggies get on the SEC bus, there also will be a long line of guys and gals with golf clubs, batting helmets and javelins. Several of them will be wearing national-championship rings.

The SEC likes to think of itself as the nation's premier athletic conference. In most cases that's no idle delusion.

Texas A&M, however, isn't coming on board to serve as cannon fodder.

In fact, if the SEC and the Aggies shook hands today, there would be three defending national champions joining the mix.

So, SEC fans, here's what you're getting once all the expansion red tape is cut:

After a prolonged swoon, Texas A&M football is back in business. The Aggies are coming off a 9-4 season. Coach Mike Sherman's fourth team should be his best, ranked as high as 10th (Sports Illustrated) in preseason polls.

That said, the Aggies are 0-6 against SEC teams dating all the way back to a win over LSU in the 1995 season-opener. Four of the losses were in bowls, including a 38-7 Tennessee Cotton Bowl win after the 2004 season.

Pat Summitt knows all about Aggie women's basketball. She watched them cut down the nets after winning the NCAA tournament last season, 76-70 over Notre Dame.

Three starters are back, but tourney MVP Danielle Adams is not one of them.

In men's basketball, A&M has grown respectable enough to lose its coach to the ACC. After a 24-9 season and school-record sixth consecutive NCAA tournament bid, coach Mark Turgeon bolted for Maryland. Texas A&M hired Billy Kennedy of Murray State.

Baseball? No easy 1-2-3 innings here. The Aggies won the Big 12 last spring and advanced to the College World Series. They return first-team All-America pitcher Ross Stripling and Big 12 player of the year Tyler Naquin.

We haven't yet mentioned the best sport on campus.

The Aggies have made collegiate history by winning three consecutive NCAA outdoor titles in both men's and women's track and field.

Head coach Pat Henry previously ran a juggernaut at LSU. Assistant coach Vince Anderson made big contributions for both the Tennessee women and men before heading to Aggieland.

Softball is no slouch. Texas A&M was undefeated at home, hosted a regional and fell just short of the College World Series, dropping a Super Regional to Arizona State.

They're serious about tennis in College Station, having hosted the NCAA tournament three times in the past 10 years. The men's program is perennially strong. The Aggies made the Round of 16 in 2011 and produced a national-champion doubles team.

In golf, both the men and women recorded top-10 finishes at the NCAA tournament. Men's and women's swimming were both top 15.

Texas A&M won't be intimidated in soccer. The Aggie women opened the 2011 season ranked No. 11. Volleyball has a history of frequent NCAA tournament bids.

So if expansion comes, and it looks as if it will, no matter the season, any day beating Texas A&M will be a good day's work.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 18

BigVolFaninSC writes:

They will be a welcome addition! If we can get a West Va. or another team from a state that the SEC is not already a part of, that would be a great expansion for what is already the best conference!

thevoice writes:

in response to BigVolFaninSC:

They will be a welcome addition! If we can get a West Va. or another team from a state that the SEC is not already a part of, that would be a great expansion for what is already the best conference!

What if the SEC added Notre Dame for the 14th? ND will eventually have to join SOME conference within 5 years, IMO. Looks like we may be headed to 4 x 16-team super conferences.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to thevoice:

What if the SEC added Notre Dame for the 14th? ND will eventually have to join SOME conference within 5 years, IMO. Looks like we may be headed to 4 x 16-team super conferences.

Notre Dame is not close to the South. Let's keep it in the same region. Besides, they are in the Big East for BB (maybe other sports, too, I don't keep up) and we don't need a convoluted mess with other sports.

eaglehim2 writes:

Texas A&M is one class act.

POLOinDC writes:

I think their women equestrian team are the defending champs as well.

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

I hope they get A&m, Missouri and West Virginia and Virginia Tech

hamneggs writes:

Who's their shoe contract with? That's what really matters.

Tenn_Traveler writes:

Is a consequence of expansion the loss of the annual 3rd Sat in Oct? Would we continue playing 8 conference games?
A&M is a class act and would be a solid contribution to our SEC. We are on the rise!! Can't wait for 9-3 and the season. Continued improvement on the field just adds to continued recruits. Gotta Love DD and coaches!!!
GBO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Taylor writes:

in response to SirDC:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I concur 100% I'd love to see A&M in the West and VA Tech in the East. The Va Tech vs. UT rivalry would be HUGE, and a potential game with over 150K at Bristol would be unbelievable.

SirCharles71 writes:

in response to POLOinDC:

I think their women equestrian team are the defending champs as well.

You are correct. A%M has several back to back Equestrian National Championships. Thank you for bringing it up.

SirCharles71 writes:

As a die hard Aggie and even raised in College Station, I would like to thank all of y'all for all the comments. A%M is taking a beating in the sports news because of the pending issue of moving to the SEC. ESPN and their new partner Texas, to whom they paid 300 million for the Longhorn Network will not stop it biased reporting. Yet both parties refuse to admit the moral and legal conflict of interest they have in the matter due to TV rights with the SEC, Big 12 and LHN. In other words, if A%M is allowed to enter the SEC then the SEC would be able to renegotiate it's TV package with ESPN.We are talking millions here more then the PAC 12.Neither want that.So it is bash the Aggies. In reality I can go either way. Come to the SEC or stay. All I am asking is that people call it like it is. And you Vol's are the only ones I have seen do that. Thanks and sorry for such a long post.

The_Real_Orange writes:

It would be great to see another school that cares about all the sports join the SEC. Maybe UF can finally have a little competition for the All-sports trophy.

VolWoman writes:

in response to hamneggs:

Who's their shoe contract with? That's what really matters.

They are an Adidas school like we are.

The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca writes:

I'd like to see the SEC pull back to 10 teams. South Carolina belongs in the ACC. Arkansas belongs in the Big 12 or a re-formed Southwest Conference (the best approach).

Another option would be for Vanderbilt, Tulane, Duke, Rice, Virginia and three more academically challenging schools to form a kind of Ivy League of the South. I know Vandy loves the SEC money, but things are about to get a lot tougher for them in the SEC.

utvolfan writes:

in response to SirDC:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sir, you must be an Aggie. Or maybe you have an Aggie ghost-writing for you.

utvolfan writes:

in response to The_Ghost_of_Duke_DeLuca:

I'd like to see the SEC pull back to 10 teams. South Carolina belongs in the ACC. Arkansas belongs in the Big 12 or a re-formed Southwest Conference (the best approach).

Another option would be for Vanderbilt, Tulane, Duke, Rice, Virginia and three more academically challenging schools to form a kind of Ivy League of the South. I know Vandy loves the SEC money, but things are about to get a lot tougher for them in the SEC.

That's an interesting idea. Texas could be part of that conference also. But wait, Texas also has a strong athletic program. They could be in a conference with Stanford, which also is strong in both athletics and academics. Any other good candidates for THAT grouping?

tim12chang writes:

Great article! You have done your homework! Do you know that Texas A&M has won more NCAA championships in the past year (3), the past two years (5), and the past three years (8) than any other school in the land?

Aggie67 writes:

It has truly been a pleasure reading this article and the associated comments. After the University of Texas / ESPN smear campaign (they actually hired a PR firm to provide negative spin), your comments are definitely appreciated. A&M is a great fit for the SEC because of our strong conservative, military, and rural background. In addition to athletics, we will be a positive addition to the conference as a top ranked, 50,000 student, AAU research institution. And then there’s the Aggie Band – one of the largest military marching bands in the world. You’ll love halftime, and be proud to be an American. When you come to Kyle Field, you will feel like you are at home. We respect our guests, and we never boo during a game. Tennessee and Texas have a long history together, from Sam Houston, to the majority of those who died at the Alamo. We look forward to adding to that history, and writing many new chapters.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features