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College football: Saturday marks start of Texas A&M, Missouri eras in the SEC

by Berry Tramel Published: September 7, 2012

Mike Slive planned to attend yell practice at Texas A&M on Friday night. Then he flips a commemorative coin at midfield just before kickoff of the A&M-Florida game. Soon after, Slive hops on a plane for Columbia, Mo., where he'll also flip the coin for the Georgia-Missouri game.

A&M-Florida. Georgia-Missouri. If it hasn't sunk in that the Aggies and the Tigers, two century-long bastions of Middle America football, now are in the SEC, Saturday will remove all doubt.

“We're going into a great league with a very rich tradition in championships and winning and a league that has a lot of good football teams,” said Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel. “That's why it's the best league in the country.”

The SEC debuts of Mizzou and A&M each carried their own scandal.

Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson ripped Georgia's performance in its season opener against Buffalo, calling it “old-man football” and saying if the Tigers execute, no one in the SEC could stay with them.

And in Gainesville, Fla., a billboard sign went up that proclaimed: “You've been annexed by Aggie Nation. The Best Academics & Cleanest Program in the SEC. WHOOP! Real Football. Real Tradition.”

Apparently, a group of Aggie fans were responsible.

Slive apparently isn't holding such nonsense against Mizzou or A&M.

The Tigers figure to challenge for the SEC East, if they can knock off Georgia. Missouri's recent success in the Big 12 shows that it's possible.

A&M, of course, has no chance in the much-tougher SEC West. A bowl game in Kevin Sumlin's first year would be a moral victory, but victory over rebuilding Florida is not out of the question.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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