True camaraderie – SEC provides Aggies a brotherhood Big 12 couldn’tBy Adam Greene | 07/11/2012 1:34am
No ideal reverberates stronger at Texas A&M than camaraderie. The University’s core values have been built around the concept since it’s founding in 1876, ringing true to this day among Aggies of all generations.
Every year, members of A&M’s powerful network throw their support behind the thousands of ventures that occur at the university on a consistent basis, but one ancient Aggie pastime has always stood apart from the rest—the gridiron sport.
Football has served as the university’s lifeblood and pulse since the fall competition surged into prominence during the early part of the past century.
At Texas A&M, the results of a past matchup can determine one’s attitude for the rest of the week, particularly when the game features a certain bitter rival. There are few other programs that can claim to own as much devotion and loyalty as the Aggies.
However, A&M has seemingly finally found its conference equivalent when it comes to intensity about gridiron success. The SEC’s reverence and ferocity is recognized nationally, earning them the respect, and fear, of other prominent leagues.
However, the Aggies’ new home possesses an attribute uncharacteristic of any other conference—brotherhood.
Over the course of the past six seasons, four SEC programs have finished the year hoisting the Crystal Ball. To put that length of time in perspective, understand that the last time college football didn’t see the SEC compete in a national title matchup, Vince Young and the Longhorns were emerging from the Rose Bowl with the Coaches’ Trophy.
During each of those six victories, and all of which came before 2006, one wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find a Gator pulling for Alabama against Texas in the 2010 National Championship.
Or to discover a Razorback rooting for Florida to crush Oklahoma in 2008. Or even encounter a Gamecock supporting Auburn in their 2011 clash with Oregon.
The conference has taken the ideal of “there is no ‘I’ in team” to a whole new level. The SEC understands that when one of their programs succeeds, all of them as a whole gain more respect on a national scale.
This brotherhood is widespread and has, now, infected the states of Texas and Missouri.
Between the Aggies and the Crimson Tide, though, there is already a certain camaraderie unlike any other in the SEC.
While LSU and Arkansas may have faced off against A&M on the gridiron the most, “Roll Tide Roll” and “Gig ‘em” have crossed paths multiple times before and in ways much more meaningful than any on-the-field encounter could ever provide.
The ruts the two football-centric universities run in are much deeper and more historically relevant for the fan bases, especially on the coaching front.
For the Tide, the name Bear Bryant rings of national championship memories and Houndstooth hats. For the Aggies, his name conjures recollections of the Junction Boys and John David Crow.
Our roots as friends, enemies and competitors run deeper and hold stronger than oak.
Now, following A&M’s unsuccessful tenure under head coach Dennis Franchione after stealing him from Alabama, don’t expect the Aggies to chase after Nick Saban. However, the Crimson Tide can expect a savage battle when facing off against A&M whether it’s at the dangerous, yet respected, Bryant-Denny or the esteemed Kyle Field.
The companionship and fraternity the conference has created over decades in their mutually symbiotic relationship is like none other in the country. The Big 12, nor any other league, has ever shown a similar support system for the individual programs residing within.
Like a collection of brothers, the league is competitive within its own bounds yet encourages the strongest of the group when matching up against an “outside” foe. Hatred is, for all intents and purposes, a foreign word.
For Texas A&M and Alabama, the camaraderie is a representation of the attitude among the entirety of the league. The refreshing change of pace and reestablishment of rivalries is something Aggies will cherish for decades to come.
The qualities the conference embraces such as equality, competitive spirit and desire, as a whole, lead the collective to emerge as the top league every season.
Put simply, when one of us wins, we all win. For two of the past three seasons, that “one” was Alabama.
Soon enough, however, Texas A&M will have the opportunity to join the Crimson Tide among the elite of not only the conference, but of the nation.
James Sullivan is a sports reporter for The Battalion, the student newspaper at Texas A&M.