SEC: Gators-Aggies-090812

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It's the age of Twitter, and you want to boil these new Texas A&M Aggies down to 140 characters. You want to say something pithy and martini-dry, pull out your snark. New league but not a new result.

Texas A&M led Florida by 10 points, 17-7, and lost, 20-17, just as it did five times last season.

Go ahead, hit send, and move on. But you didn't just miss the point. You never saw it. At the end of the first Saturday of the rest of Texas A&M's athletic life, the result of the game didn't matter much at all. They held a coronation on this Texas flatland, a celebration of what this university has become.

If you will pardon the expression in this red-leaning state, the move to the Southeastern Conference is change the Aggies can believe in.

History tells us that change is not something this campus handles well. In the span of Dr. Robert L. Walker's adult life, Texas A&M has changed from an all-male, all-white military institution into a coeducational, multiracial university respected for its research. Walker, the university's senior executive for development, graduated from A&M in 1958, four years before women enrolled.

"Students thought of this as a place where plowing farmers came," Walker said, "and marching soldiers."

They didn't want women. They didn't want students of color. They didn't want women in the corps. When that happened a generation ago, some of the male cadets would put raccoons and armadillos in the female cadets' dorm rooms at night.

But the university adjusted. Billy Pickard arrived on this campus as a student on June 1, 1952, the day after he graduated from high school in San Antonio. After his college graduation, he returned as a trainer for coach Gene Stallings nearly a half-century ago and never left.

For Ivan Maisel's full column, click here.

Gators show Aggies how SEC plays ball

September, 9, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There were two distinctly SEC elements to Florida's 20-17 victory over Texas A&M on this historic Saturday deep in the heart of Texas.

The atmosphere, passion and pageantry were off-the-charts good. We're talking Baton Rouge, La., good; Tuscaloosa, Ala., good; and Athens, Ga., good.

The Aggies are going to fit right in.

Unfortunately for them, though, they also got a taste on the field of what lies at the core of SEC football, particularly in the second half.

"It's smash-mouth football, winning the line of scrimmage and getting it done in the fourth quarter," said Florida junior offensive guard Jon Halapio, reciting the second part of what made Saturday's game a vintage SEC affair.

It wasn't always pretty and teetered on being boring in spots, but was yet another reminder that grinding it out is a way of life in this league.

The Aggies will learn. They are well-coached and have the personnel to play with most of the teams in this league. In fact, they were clearly the better team in the first half Saturday and the team that dictated the tempo.

But the Gators were successful in turning it into more of a scrum in the second half, and they already had endured all the lessons they could stomach last season about being physical and playing for 60 minutes.

For Chris Low's full column, click here.

Video: Florida-Texas A&M wrap-up

September, 8, 2012

Chris Low and Ivan Maisel break down Florida's 20-17 win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- While all eyes will be on the two quarterbacks Saturday and how they fare in their first outing as starters, a bigger key will be how well the players around them play.

That was more or less Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's message to his redshirt freshman, Johnny Manziel, who does have a gunslinger side to him. Hence the nickname Johnny Football.

But what Sumlin wants him to do, especially in this game, is to use the people around him. Get the ball to Ryan Swope. Lean on Christine Michael. Let that veteran offensive line do its job.

It's much the same deal for Florida's Jeff Driskel, who's making his first start as the Gators' quarterback.

For all the talk about what Florida's quarterbacks haven't done the past couple of years, they haven't gotten a lot of help from their receivers, either. They need more plays similar to the one Frankie Hammond turned in last week, where somebody gathers in a short pass and turns it into a 50-yard play.

Where this Florida offense has a chance to be different than last season is at running back. Mike Gillislee appears to be that workhorse that can get it done between the tackles and also break some big plays.

The two quarterbacks will indeed be on center stage Saturday at Kyle Field. But their supporting casts will decide the game.

Welcome to SEC football in Texas

September, 8, 2012
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.

Video: Florida-Texas A&M preview

September, 8, 2012

Chris Low offers pregame analysis of the Florida-Texas A&M game from Kyle Field.



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