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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.