A handful of days before Texas A&M opens its first summer camp as a member of the SEC, the Aggies have morphed into the Rodney Dangerfields of college football.
Speaking at an event in Houston this week, and with his tongue buried deep in his cheek, first-year A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin lamented the lack of respect he felt his squad received during the SEC media days earlier this month.
“Guys, based on every question I got, they don’t think we have any defense. They don’t think our offense will work, and we don’t have a quarterback or kicker. Other than that we have no problem guys,” Sumlin told the crowd according to the Bryan-College Station Eagle.
The head coach wasn’t the only playing the respect card; his players had the same feeling coming out of the media days.
Sumlin said he’s stressed an upbeat approach from day, but negatively is always a question or thought away, which was the case last week when he and three of his players attended the Southeastern Conference Media Football Days in Hoover, Ala.
“ I don’t think those people think we’re any good,” A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel said on the plane ride back. “They kept asking me what’s it like to be in the SEC. I tried to be positive, but I got the felling they think we’re going to get our brains kicked in.”
Joeckel didn’t exactly say “get our brains kicked in,” said Sumlin who got that same feeling after five hours of interviews.
Sumlin, though, did vow his Aggies wouldn’t just roll over in a conference that’s won the past six BcS titles.
“We’re coming to play, we’re coming to fight our ass off and win every game we can.”
A&M, along with Missouri, officially joined the SEC in July of this year after announcing they were moving from the Big 12 last year. At least part of the reason for the pessimism on the part of the media when it comes to the Aggies’ first year in the conference is likely due to the fact they were dropped in the SEC West, home of the last three national champs (Alabama, Auburn) along with a program that will start the 2012 deep inside the Top Five (LSU) and another (Arkansas) that should find itself somewhere in the neighborhood of the Top Ten in the preseason polls.
Add that to the Aggies c0ming off a season in which it stumbled and bumbled its way through a 7-6 season that featured several late-game collapses, and breaking in a new starting quarterback in the best defensive conference in the country, and you get the low expectations on the part of the media. Or, the lack of respect, if you will.