Senior Texas A&M defensive back Deshazor Everett was going through the car wash earlier this week at SEC media days and had stopped to get hosed down by Mark Packer of SiriusXM College Sports.
“What are the differences between the players in this league and the Big 12?,” Packer asked.
It seemed like an odd question to pose to someone who played occasionally on special teams as a freshman in 2011, A&M’s last year in the Big 12.
You could chalk it up as a case of poor preparation by a radio host, but it fit with a theme throughout the week. For example, on Wednesday, Gary Pinkel got the endorsement of Alabama color man Phil Savage:
— Phil Savage (@SeniorBowlPhil) July 16, 2014
That would be the head coach of the Missouri Tigers, the team that won a division title in its second year in the conference. Pinkel undoubtedly appreciates an Alabama man’s #SEClegit seal of approval.
Mizzou and A&M are full-fledged members of the SEC entering their third seasons in the league. Both have enjoyed plenty of success in their short stay there. There’s nothing to suggest they’re getting hazed by Mike Slive.
For some in the media, however, they remain “Formerly-of-the-Big 12 Texas A&M and Missouri.”
Maybe old ideas just die hard. Stretching roughly a decade, the SEC has enjoyed an unprecedented run of dominance on the national stage. To hear some writers tell it, SEC football is almost like a different game from what they play on the West Coast or in the Midwest. (Which is true, in so far as the deepest collection of talent in the country comes from inside the league’s geographical borders.)
By not rolling over, A&M and Mizzou, two good-not-great programs from outside the Deep South, pierced that veneer of impenetrability.
In fact, the two transplants are actually teaching the rest of the league a little bit about playing Big Boy Football against teams like Alabama. Namely, it’s not necessarily a good idea to do it. Both Pinkel and A&M coach Kevin Sumlin are spread offense zealots whose teams rarely huddle or take a traditional snap from under center. That allegedly wouldn’t work in the SEC, but the Aggies and Tigers have compiled enough wins in the last two years to suggest otherwise.
Playing that style with talent primarily recruited to compete in the Big 12, the transition to the sport’s best league hasn’t crushed either program. For some hacks, that must feel like riding in a driverless car for the first time or having a salad for lunch.
Can both keep it up? Who knows. But, at this point, the novelty act story has run its course.