"From the outside looking in, you can't understand it, and from the inside looking out, you can't explain it."
A&M President R. Bowen Loftin celebrates the Aggies' admission into the SEC last September.
That saying is as well known among Aggies as the words to the "War Hymn" and "The Spirit of Aggieland." And, for too long now, many have believed it. But explaining the culture of Texas A&M isn't impossible. In fact, you can do it in one word.
It all starts with pride. Aggies have a pride that runs so deep that they can't imagine that anyone else would have the same level of it. So deep that it has defined A&M's culture for decades. Aggies truly believe that their university is different, and for years that belief, that deeply held feeling of exceptionalism, has been the trademark of Texas A&M.
They've always thought of themselves as different. Talk to an Aggie, and even if you have a shared collegiate experience, something that may seem universal, they'll likely tell you that it was different at A&M. That the first beer you had after you turned 21 wasn't as good as the one they had at the Dixie Chicken. Again, it's that exceptionalism, that true belief that those outside of A&M don't, and can't, understand them that has united Aggies for generations.
It's why they come together on April 21st each year to celebrate Muster, and it's why the honor the members of the A&M family each month that pass away. Because the only people that understand it, are the ones that are part of it, and that needs to be celebrated and remembered.
But then there's been Aggie Football. For all the unique pageantry and culture around Saturday's in the fall, the team on the field has never been anything different. They've always been compared to their in-state rivals Texas and Texas Tech, and more recently to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Sure, each program has their small differences, but Aggie Football has always lacked a defining characteristic. They've been missing something that seperates the maroon and white from the pack not in the eyes of the fans, but in the eyes of the recruits as well.
That is, until now.
A&M's move to the SEC finally gives Aggie Football what it's so desperately needed, and what the fans have so desperately wanted. Aggies don't have to try to explain why their team is different now, they actually are. For fans that haven't met Aggies, it's probably hard to understand just how important this is, but if you've ever met an Aggie, then you already understand. Aggies, like all Texans, are proud of the Lone Star State, and now that they have the chance to represent the state in a league all their own, the fanbase is more united than ever.
As the season approaches, the battle cries are going to get even louder as Aggies across the state unite in their common spirit. A spirit that, different as it may be, isn't impossible to understand if you understand where it comes from.
As I've said on a number of occasions, there's no guarantee that the Aggies are going to be successful in the SEC, but that has only further inspired the fans. The fact that adminstrators and coaches from their old conference rivals, and at times the national media itself, have looked down on the move has only galvanized the feeling that, starting now, it's A&M against the world.
In Aggieland, a new era has truly arrived. This is a time that Aggies have been waiting on for a long time. This is a point that we'll all look back on in twenty years as a turning point. This is where either A&M either suceeds or fails all its own.
So get ready Aggies, because for better or for worse, this is SEC country.