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.