It appears a bit off to write this as Johnny Manziel prepares for his first NFL season, but a taboo topic that should have been addressed two years ago is finally being addressed.
If you look across different college football news websites, you’ll find baffled reporters and analysts talking about how the Texas Longhorns are falling further behind Texas A&M for state power. An ESPN article online addresses this same topic and
brought up a common social media hashtag Aggie fans have: #WRTS, which stands for “We Run This State.”
As of right now, they’re right. And they’re not going anywhere. Texas now has to fight to get back to the Aggies’ level, but they won’t be able to move far ahead of them any time in the near future.
The last two recruiting classes for the Aggies have been significantly better than the Longhorns’ classes, and with the current No. 3 class on rivals.com, it looks like they’ll have another better class in 2015. Meanwhile, not only is Texas A&M recruiting well, Charlie Strong’s first full class at Texas next year could be worse than the class he put together for 2014. The class is currently barely in the top 30. So by 2015, that’ll be three years of depth for the Aggies while the Longhorns could be struggling to stay afloat.
This should have been brought up once the Aggies made the jump to the SEC. They already had historical success and played in Texas, but with the move to the most elite, marketable powerful conference in college sports, the recruiting sell got a lot easier. Texas A&M could pick up Texas players that the Longhorns used to have a lock on by selling the SEC, and they could make gains in other southern states as well.
Before the move, Texas thumbed its nose at the state with the Longhorn Network. You think A&M cares about that network now? The SEC has a couple networks too. They’re called CBS and ESPN. So while the Longhorns can sell playing on regional television every week, the Aggies can now sell playing on national television every week against the best competition.
Recruiting became even easier after the Manziel hype and the quick success. For Sumlin, it was perfect timing, and the chips fell perfectly. He might have still had a rebuilding project on his hands with long-term advantages, but the 11-2 season their first year in the SEC with a Heisman-trophy winning quarterback dramatically sped up that process. You don’t think recruits saw that as a selling point in Texas and around the country? You don’t think there are recruits right now who have that in their head? The hype behind Manziel alone to make A&M a national brand, in addition to having a lot more success with the top recruits in the state of Texas thanks to their success in the SEC, makes it even more likely the Aggies will remain a powerhouse.
Kevin Sumlin’s control over the program will also keep it strong. His proven track record first at Houston and now at Texas A&M will only draw more recruits, not to mention the guy simply knows how to coach. Johnny Manziel wasn’t his first quarterback to make a superstar splash in college football. (Case Keenum anybody?) Now he’s going to get to choose among three quarterbacks to start this year that include sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill, who is a dual-threat similar to Manziel and was a 4-star on Rivals, and 5-star Freshman and pro-style quarterback Kyle Allen, who is the highest rated Rivals quarterback of this past year’s recruiting class.
Of course, Longhorn fans will say what fans of the traditional powerhouses would say of a little brother who’s caught up, or surpassed them. They’ll call this a fad, they’ll say Texas has the tradition, they’ll say the Longhorns will always be the top dog and two years of success won’t change that. And usually, fans of powerhouse teams that make those arguments are right.
Although Oklahoma State has rivaled Oklahoma recently, everybody knows the Sooners will remain the power school. And does anybody seriously think that Vanderbilt will continue to compete with Tennessee the way they have recently? Stanford won’t have control over USC for long out west, and Michigan State is very unlikely to stay in control over Michigan and Ohio State for Big Ten power.
But Texas A&M is different. It’s here to stay, and while I expect Strong to ultimately do a good job at Texas and bring them back to power, the Aggies won’t fall. They have benefitted from switching conferences more than any other team over the past 20 years.