As best I understand it, Texas A&M switched conferences due to its desire for a few things.
It was tired of Texas throwing its weight around, particularly its habit of flirting with other conferences and then acting like it's a hero for saving the Big 12. Check. The Longhorns are never going to join the SEC.
It wanted to get into the most prestigious football conference in the country both to compete against the best and use as a recruiting tool. Check. It doesn't get any better than six national championships in a row (and counting).
It wanted to get a fresh start to reinvigorate the football program after more than a decade of alternating between being mediocre and good-but-not-great. Check. The team has a new conference, new coaching staff, and will even have a new athletic director once Bill Byrne's replacement is found.
For all those reasons, the 2012 season represents a rebirth of Aggie football in nearly every way imaginable. On top of all of that change cataloged above, school leadership is considering a renovation or even a replacement of Kyle Field. The colors are the same, the fans are the same, the love of the 12th man is the same, and Reveille is the same. Just about everything else is different.
All of the newness figures to pay off during the 100-year horizon that Bowen Loftin said his school's decision to move was based around, but it probably won't be during 2012.
Sumlin's Air Raid-derived offense is famously simple to install, taking as little as three days to teach in its entirety. It does, however, require a remarkably high number of reps to get down well. As a result of conference change, the coaches and players alike have at least six brand new (and generally nasty) defenses to learn on the league slate. Those defenses, on the other hand, have a maximum of three new offenses to learn (Sumlin's, Hugh Freeze's at Ole Miss, and Gary Pinkel's at Missouri). The defense doesn't even get to enjoy some sameness, as they're back to a 4-3 after having just completed a multi-year effort to get a 3-4 scheme installed and internalized.
And speaking of new things, the depth chart at quarterback currently reads "freshman-freshman-freshman".
This Texas A&M team is certainly talented, and I do like Sumlin a lot as head coach. I think both of them will make some noise in the conference in the not-too-distant future. The problem with expecting that this fall is that I think there's just been too much change, too much upheaval, too much shuffling of the deck to put together a great run. Consistency is one of the best predictors for sustained success in college football, and let's face it, Mike Sherman wouldn't have been fired if everything in College Station was rosy.
Heading into 2012, just about everything at Texas A&M has been made new. The short term consequences might not be pretty, but a fresh start is exactly what they wanted to achieve. Good luck with the SEC West, guys.