TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Toward the end of an informal Friday evening chat with Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, a couple of reporters reminded him of Nick Saban's October complaints about up-tempo offenses and whether they somehow poison the game.
A writer wryly suggested that Sumlin, new to A&M and to the SEC, should put together a roster to really frustrate Saban and the status quo of the proud and plodding league.
"We're trying," he said as he exited the room, turning to me and smiling.
Turns out the Aggies are already there, as evidenced Saturday by a 29-24 upset of the previously No. 1 and BCS favorite Alabama Crimson Tide.
This wasn't a Tide hangover from "The Drive" (now meaningless, really) and LSU. This was Texas A&M playing better throughout the course of four quarters.
"I told them we didn't need to play a perfect game," Sumlin said afterward. "We needed a complete game. We hadn't played one of those yet."
It's kind of funny that he would say that, considering all the embarrassing failures the program suffered in 2011 -- when A&M lost four of its six games despite holding double-digit halftime leads.
This very different version of the Aggies came to Tuscaloosa and, with a freshman quarterback, outplayed the defending national champs and the team we all presumed was the best in the country.
Forget A&M holding onto a halftime lead; Alabama never led at any point. The Tide threatened, sure, but the Aggies had answers each time on both sides of the ball.
And when the punt team needed to contribute, it got the most disciplined players in America to jump offside to seal the game. That had Ags special teams coach Brian Polian beaming. He called it "once in a million" that Bama would jump in that situation -- and the one just happened to hit.
What we're learning is there is in fact room for a third elite program in the SEC West. And, no, it isn't Arkansas, as we thought back in March. The Aggies already were riding a recruiting wave -- because of their location, their fast-paced offense and their new league -- but Saturday should create a real spike in interest.
Make room in the SEC for another elite program. Texas A&M is here, and its first-year boss -- now a Missouri win from possibly being the cutthroat conference's coach of the year -- is the catalyst.
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