Welcome to SEC football in Texas

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- I stepped off the press box elevator at Kyle Field on Saturday morning, and there stood Larry Templeton and Charlie Hussey from the SEC.

“Imagine seeing you here,” Templeton joked.

My response: “What the heck are we doing in Texas?”

That’s right, genuine SEC football deep in the heart of Texas.

Establishing a foothold in the state of Texas has long been something the SEC has desired.

It becomes reality later Saturday afternoon when No. 24 Florida takes on Texas A&M in the Aggies’ first-ever SEC game.

This place has a distinct SEC feel to it, from the size of the stadium, to the passion of the fans, to the way the town -- which isn’t real close to anything -- turns into a sea of maroon on fall Saturdays.

You gotta love the traditions here, too.

The Midnight Yell on Friday night was as festive as ever, as about 40,000 people packed the East side at Kyle Field to warm up their vocal cords.

The 12th Man here is as much a tradition as tailgating at The Grove before Ole Miss games, Mike the Tiger being paraded around at Tiger Stadium and Uga patrolling the sidelines at Sanford Stadium.

Don’t look for any cheerleaders here. They’re called Yell Leaders, five students elected by the student body. Their job is to fire up the crowd, and they do it well.

With or without Yell Leaders, this place was already going to be raucous Saturday.

Hot, too. The temperature at kickoff is supposed to be right around 90 degrees, although there’s a strong breeze. Winds are gusting up to 20 miles per hour.