The last time the Aggies ran onto Kyle Field, it was a game drenched in history. The marked the final matchup in the longstanding rivalry between the Aggies and the Texas Longhorns, and it marked the end of A&M’s run in the Big 12 Conference. Tragically for A&M fans the game also resembled that history, with an ending that was fitting, if not altogether cruel, for A&M fans.
The next time they step on Kyle Field though, A&M’s past means absolutely nothing. Tomorrow begins a new era at Texas A&M, and the Aggies and their coach have a chance to write their own history.
“There’s been a lot of great players here, but a lot of them would love to be a part of running out on Kyle Field on Saturday with all of the history making things that are going on,” Sumlin told the media Tuesday.
"I've said before, I'm extremely honored to be the head coach at Texas A&M in this situation," he added. "There's a lot of historical moments in this university and this football program and without a doubt this is one of them. To be the head football coach at this time is really an honor. Not only to be in our first home game, but our first game in the SEC, there's a lost of firsts going on here Saturday."
Perhaps no team in the history of college football has willingly faced a turning point as stark as the one A&M stands on, and it extends from the basics on the field to the administrators in the stands.
The Aggies will enter Kyle Field in a new way, wearing new jerseys. If the Aggies kickoff to start the game, Taylor Bertolet, a kicker that has never kicked a ball in a college game, will be the one to kick it. If they receive, Trey Williams, a true freshman from Spring Dekaney will be the one assigned to catch it. A&M’s quarterback Johnny Manziel, a redshirt freshman like Bertolet, will take the first offensive snap at quarterback.
Running the show will be Sumlin, the first year head coach at Texas A&M (though he does have ties to A&M’s past having coached in Aggieland before.) Handling the offense will be Kliff Kingsbury, once the enemy of the 12th Man in Kyle Field while at Texas Tech. In fact, all of the coaches are new with not a single holdover from the old staff. And keeping a watchful eye over it all will be Eric Hyman, the first year Texas A&M Athletic Director formerly at South Carolina.
From a football standpoint, it’s hard to imagine a team having more changes over the course of one year than that Aggies have had.
But some things haven’t changed. When you look up into the crowd you’re going to see the same maroon and white clad fans that have been coming to Kyle Field since before women were even allowed at A&M. When you look at bleachers on the east side of the stadium you’re still going to see the Corps of Cadets and the 28,000 other members of the towel waving student section. It’s also probably a safe bet that the Aggie Band is going to form the “Block T” at the end of the halftime show.
Because, after all, college football is about tradition, and no school is more proud of its traditions than Texas A&M. Most of those traditions are built in the school itself, and even though athletics is a part of them, it’s not the basis for them. That runs much deeper than the final scores on Saturdays.
Soon, even Kyle Field itself will undergo dramatic changes, but while everything around A&M football is changing, Aggies are still Aggies. Their pride in their team has never been at an all time high.
Saturday, the entire nation will see that in full force as the Aggies begin their future in the SEC. And it will be a reminder that no matter how much changes, A&M’s most famous tradition is still as strong as ever. Though conferences, jerseys, players, coaches, and athletic directors may change, and knockoffs may arise in various places. Kyle Field will always be the one and only home of the 12th Man.