COLUMN: Aggies playing Big 12 team in first bowl game as SEC team appropriate
Kingsley Burns, The Oklahoma Daily
Texas A&M could not get out of the Big 12 and embrace its new conference, the SEC, fast enough once the 2011 season was over.
The Aggies were leaving a pass-happy conference that is considered the second or third best conference in college football for a conference that had just featured two teams in the national championship game.
Not a bad situation.
And when Texas A&M was gone, it was gone.
SEC logos replaced all of the Big 12 banners and signs at Kyle Field and in various facilities around campus, and the Aggies could not wait to prove they could survive in a newer, “tougher” conference.
And all fairness, they did quite well for themselves by finishing 10-2, including a signature win against then No. 1 Alabama on the road on national television that helped launch redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel into the lead for the Heisman Trophy — which he later won.
Now what did all that success earn No. 10 Texas A&M? Another trip to the Cotton Bowl, this time squaring off against its former conference foe, the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners, who, too, ended the season with a 10-2 mark.
Funny, isn’t it?
“It is kind of funny,” said redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy earlier this month. “It’s the same place we were in a couple of years ago; it’s the same thing. It’s kind of weird being on the other side of the table.”
While some may see it as appropriate to have Texas A&M playing an old Big 12 rival in its infant year in a new conference, others use it as a way to avenge the Aggies’ last meeting against the Sooners in Norman last year.
“Last year was a nasty taste,” Texas A&M senior defensive lineman Spencer Nealy said. “It’s still pretty gross in my mouth talking about it.”
OU defeated the Aggies, 41-25, in Norman last season after falling in College Station, 33-19, in 2010.
Because of this year’s opportunity to play the Big 12 in the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, Nealy calls this game as the Aggies’ good bye to their old conference rather than considering any game they played last year as the good-bye tour.
“We’ve got to leave the Big 12 on a good mark,” Nealy said. “I feel like this is our good bye to the Big 12. It’s destiny to happen — going to the Cotton Bowl to play a Big 12 team. So it’s like shutting a door.”
Jono Greco is a journalism graduate student. You can follow him on Twitter during the game at @jonogreco13.