The beginning of Week 2 is the time for overreactions, and there have been no shortage of them regarding Texas A&M's blowout win over South Carolina last week.
In truth, we really don't know how good either team is right now in absolute terms. That fact hasn't stopped, for instance, Pat Forde from saying we should pencil the Aggies into the playoff right now. Because it's the time for overreacting, let's run with that.
When Texas A&M came into the conference, there were two general reactions. The most prevalent boiled down to this: if they can't win anything in the Big 12, what are they going to win in the SEC? The other, less common one was that this move would create a monster. Take a big team from Texas with lots of resources and give it the SEC brand to recruit with? Scary thought.
I breezed through the TSK archives this morning and didn't find either of those (though I could have missed it). The closest thing I could find to a long-term prediction is this, from me, in June of 2012:
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.
I also found this compilation of quotes from coaches about A&M's impending conference switch in August of 2011, and, for what it's worth, Jackie Sherrill said the program that would benefit the most from the Aggies joining the SEC was Arkansas.
A couple of years in, the interpretation that the move might have created a beast seems to be setting in. According to the newly developing narrative, Johnny Manziel was a nice bridge to get the team through what would have been some transitional struggles. Now that Kevin Sumlin has been there a couple of years with some fantastic recruiting classes in the fold, watch out.
I'm not quite ready to pencil the Aggies in the playoff myself. South Carolina's defense might just be in for a bad year, and the Gamecocks made A&M's defense look pretty iffy while they were still running their base offense. Alabama is too talented to count out even after an underwhelming debut against West Virginia (who might be pretty good). Auburn is way ahead of its pace from a year ago. And, don't forget, Sumlin and the Aggies have yet to beat LSU.
As for the future, well, predictions about it are notoriously difficult. NFL teams will start inquiring about Sumlin before too long, if they haven't already. Plus, Charlie Strong being the boss in Austin is just a little bit different for recruiting battles than having the decaying Mack Brown regime be in place there. We may look back and see this burst of success as an aberration. We might also see it as the beginning of Sumlin's 20-year reign of terror in the SEC.
What is clear by now is that the combination of Sumlin and SEC affiliation has been terrific for the A&M program. It's certainly not set for life, as no program truly is. Alabama and Florida have been the most successful programs in each division since 1992, but the Tide lost eight games 14 years ago, and the Gators lost eight games just one year ago.
But hey, it's early on in Week 2. Are the Aggies a shoo-in for the playoff? Sure. Why not? That's what Week 2 is for. But there is something to that "we've created a monster" feeling. No matter how this season ends up, it really is possible that Texas A&M has made a leap to a new, higher level for good. We saw it in 1990 with Florida, and we might have seen it again in 2012 with the Aggies.