IRVING, Texas — Luke Joeckel grew up a Big 12 guy.
His dad played football at Texas Tech. The Joeckels lived in Arlington, 15 minutes from Big 12 headquarters and less than that from JerryWorld, where the Big 12 title game was anchored. Joeckel signed with Texas A&M in February 2010 and went about the business of becoming an Outland Trophy winner.
Joeckel won't trash the Big 12. But he also won't lie. The Aggie All-American loves the Southeastern Conference.
“Things are better,” Joeckel said of A&M's first season in the SEC. “Things are way better.”
The Aggies play OU on Friday night in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and if you're waiting for the Aggies to turn melancholy about their Big 12 days, pull up a chair. It's going to be a spell.
The Ags express ecstasy about their new home. Hard to blame them after a 10-2 season, a victory in Tuscaloosa and a Heisman Trophy for a freshman you couldn't pick out of a boy band.
“Nothing too much do we miss,” said senior safety Steven Terrell. “We're all excited to be in the SEC. The first year, there's so much excitement, people don't really have time to reminisce on the Big 12 days.”
Oh, you can get some Aggies to mention a few things they miss.
Defensive end Damontre Moore and linebacker Sean Porter miss all the passing. “Only thing I'll say I miss about the Big 12, they throw the ball almost every play,” Porter said. “Pass rushing frenzy. That was fun. Other than that, I don't miss anything about the Big 12.”
Tight end Michael Lamothe misses the hostile atmospheres in Stillwater and Norman and Lubbock. Says they were more unfriendly than what he found in Oxford and Auburn, Tuscaloosa and Starkville. “That was fun,” Lamothe said. “We'll miss those games.”
Terrell admitted missing playing Texas.
“Obviously, A&M has a lot of traditions with Oklahoma, with Texas, with Baylor, Texas Tech,” said flanker Ryan Swope. “There's a part of me that does miss that. But at the same time, we're headed in a bigger and better direction in the SEC. It's the greatest conference in the country.”