It's far from being a done deal by any stretch of the imagination, but the Texas Aggies are hoping to cap off their amazing inaugural season in the SEC with a victory over the Oklahoma Sooners tonight in the 77th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl, led by head coach Kevin Sumlin and his talented team of coaching savants, who created an absolutely magical season for the Texas Aggies. Thousands of Aggies gathered last night at the Fort Worth stockyards for the traditional Midnight Yell Practice for their team.
Going into the game, the Aggies statistically are "plus one" and "minus one" in what they had starting the season, in that freshman quaterback Johnny Manziel was named the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner (+1), and Kliff Kingsbury, the Aggies talented Offensive Coordinator went home to lead Texas Tech's football team, where he was a standout college quarterback himself.
The impacts of both these developments in the month of December are substantial. Whereas the Oklahoma Sooners' quarterback Landry Jones is the Big 12's leading passer, a fact that definitely is overlooked in local Bryan-College Station media coverage. It's relevant also that the Sooners are #12 in the national standings, given that they have many talented receivers to catch the passes of their talented quarterback.
When Kliff Kingsbury accepted the head coaching job at Texas Tech on December 12, when a job opening arrived seemingly overnight, on the heels of the Heisman Trophy being awarded, the reaction among Aggie fans was a collective mumble of "meh." That "air raid" executed by the Red Raiders on the Aggies may or may not have been a concern for the team or the coaching staff, but you wouldn't know it by the steady, calm, reserved manner in which head coach Kevin Sumlin leads the Aggie team the way he has all season long.
Texas A&M will hear nothing except the words "Heisman Trophy Winner" affixed to a talented freshman quarterback in young Johnny Manziel. In the past four weeks since winning the Heisman, Manziel has been treated to a whirlwind ride at the top of the media roller coaster, thanks to a brilliantly devised press junket developed by Texas A&M's marketing and communications chief, Jason Cook.
The affable, intelligent and poised young Manziel did Aggies proud in his appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, where he did the Top Ten list, a taped interview on CBS This Morning, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he presented a tiny 12th Man t-shirt to actress Megan Fox (way to go, Jason Cook!), and every other national broadcast where he was a guest.
Even though Timothy Rapp penned an important column "Texas A&M QB Must Not Let Epic Season Go to His Head" for Bleacher Report, warning everyone to be prepared for the results of colossal distractions that took one player off the focus train for a month while doing "what was in the best interests of recruiting for the Aggies' future," it's a true enough warning. Longtime local fans of Texas Aggie football have been saying that across town, but no one is really listening; they're too fired up about the Heisman Trophy belonging to A&M after a 55-year wait for its return.
You can't blame Aggie fans for loving the celebration and joy of victory. No reason to chastise anyone for "whooping it up" and it's all "good bull" as far as the Ags are concerned. The reality of life, though, is that once any factor becomes in play that would impact the winning streak of the Aggies or the effectiveness of the team as a whole, there will be a root cause search and postmortem review of where to place the blame. Aggie fans will just have to wait and see how the game plays out on the ground tonight in the Cotton Bowl.
Because the Aggie Yell Leaders couldn't be two places at the same time, and they were fired up to lead the football fans in Fort Worth, Reed Arena was resoundingly quiet last night, as both the Aggie women's and men's basketball teams captured victories against their opponents with just the enthusiastic, talented Hullabaloo Band and the Texas Aggie Dance Team to create a crowd reaction. That's very typical of the Aggie basketball programs in being generous because all eyes are on football here.
It's all in the family, at Texas A&M, and for now, all eyes are on cotton, big cotton, and a big victory tonight.
The AT&T Cotton Bowl game will begin at 7 pm CST, broadcast on the Fox Network. The 10-2 Texas Aggies (6-2 SEC) will face up against the 10-2 Oklahoma Sooners (8-1 Big 12) in the title match-up that could have never taken place unless the Aggies had jettisoned the Big 12 for the SEC. Never tell an Aggie he or she can't do something; it just makes them more determined to succeed. And thus, the journey on the road aboard the SEC train continues. Gig 'em and good luck tonight to Johnny Manziel and the fighting Texas Aggies.