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Miscellany

Comparing Texas A&M to SEC Football Programs Over the Last Two Decades

With the news that Texas A&M has officially withdrawn from the Big XII and will likely join the Southeastern Conference, I thought it would be a good idea to compare Texas A&M to the other programs in the SEC. Would it be just a matter of adding a team that would be feeding for the scraps of the bottom tier bowl games in exchange for getting into a more stable league and allowing the SEC across the Texas border? Or is Texas A&M a legitimate threat to compete for division titles?

In order to do the comparisons, I used the simple rating system ratings available at sports-reference.com/collegefootball, and looked at the period since the current version of the SEC was formed when Texas A&M’s former conference rival Arkansas, along with South Carolina, joined in 1992. First up, using the season ratings ratings (where 0 is an average division I-A team in a given season) for the entire period since 1992, capturing the up and down years of all programs, here is a year by year breakdown of where Texas A&M ranked compared to the 12 other SEC schools.

1992	3
1993	2
1994	3
1995	3
1996	6
1997	8
1998	3
1999	7
2000	2
2001	8
2002	8
2003	11
2004	3
2005	10
2006	9
2007	10
2008	13
2009	12
2010	6

They would have been among the leaders in the 90′s, slotting behind Florida and another contender or two most years (usually Tennessee). In the last decade, they would have missed a bowl game many years, and made a lower tier bowl in others. Here is the overall average rating of the 12 SEC teams plus Texas A&M since the conference expanded in 1992.

Average Simple Rating, Since 1992

  1. Florida (+17.1)
  2. Tennessee (+12.6)
  3. Alabama (+11.2)
  4. Georgia (+10.9)
  5. Auburn (+10.4)
  6. LSU (+9.8)
  7. Texas A&M (+8.0)
  8. Arkansas (+6.5)
  9. South Carolina (+4.3)
  10. Ole Miss (+3.6)
  11. Mississippi State (+1.5)
  12. Kentucky (+0.6)
  13. Vanderbilt (-3.2)

Since 1992, Texas A&M checks in at exactly the middle of the conference, ahead of Arkansas and South Carolina, and behind LSU and Auburn. However, here’s a look at just the last five years, when Texas A&M was relatively struggling by their standards.

Simple Rating, Last 5 Years

  1. Florida (+18.7)
  2. Alabama (+14.4)
  3. LSU (+14.2)
  4. Auburn (+11.5)
  5. Georgia (+10.9)
  6. Arkansas (+9.9)
  7. South Carolina (+8.4)
  8. Tennessee (+7.6)
  9. Kentucky (+5.5)
  10. Texas A&M (+4.3)
  11. Ole Miss (+3.7)
  12. Mississippi State (+2.4)
  13. Vanderbilt (-1.2)

Here, Texas A&M has dipped below several programs in the short term, and has only been better than Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt in the last five years.

Another way to compare them, since I can picture some people questioning whether A&M would have put up the same ratings (which take into account strength of schedule and point margin) in the SEC, is by looking at NFL draft picks. Certainly the number of players drafted by the NFL isn’t the only indication of how good a program, though the SEC likes to pride itself on the quality of its athletes. Here is a breakdown of the total draft picks by programs since 1992:

Total NFL Draft Picks, 1993 to 2011 Drafts

  1. Florida (89)
  2. Tennessee (84)
  3. Georgia (77)
  4. LSU (69)
  5. Alabama (67)
  6. Texas A&M (60)
  7. Auburn (51)
  8. Mississippi State (44)
  9. South Carolina (36)
  10. Ole Miss (34)
  11. Arkansas (32)
  12. Kentucky (27)
  13. Vanderbilt (17)

Here, again, they are just above average, moving ahead of Auburn, and almost doubling up programs to which they will be compared, like South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. A&M hasn’t always done the best job of converting that talent to wins over the last decade, and the Franchione era was a mess. Some probably think the Texas A&M fanbase is delusional for wanting to compete in the SEC and not recognizing and accepting their natural place near the bottom of the strongest conference of all-time. A decade ago, the LSU fanbase was delusional as well, and their program quite frankly sucked. A Nick Saban hire and a decade later, LSU is a perennial contender.

Texas A&M has been down recently, and I don’t think they are Florida, USC, or Texas. However, I suspect that when we look back in a decade, they’ll be a lot closer to the LSU’s and Auburn’s and Georgia’s than they are the Mississippi State’s and Kentucky’s.

[photo via Getty]

 

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