CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- ONE MIGHT argue it is too early to make such a pronouncement, but there seems to be a clear winner in conference realignment.
Texas A&M. Gig 'em, Aggies!
They're gigging 'em, all right. The latest A&M coup was an upstaging of former big brother Texas on national signing day, or so the recruitniks are saying.
That comes after the Aggies trashed Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, which came after Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, which came after the Aggies upset Alabama, which came after Manziel emerged as an unsackable genius, which came after coach Kevin Sumlin's hiring, which came after A&M accepted an invitation into the Southeastern Conference.
All of which unquestionably brightened the recruiting prospects in College Station. That, my friends, is one jolting 17-month cycle.
No human could have seen all that coming, but somebody could suspect that the SEC/A&M marriage was a brilliant move by both sides.
The SEC was able to expand into a final frontier, the football-crazy state of Texas, and barely stretched the geographic footprint - College Station is just a few hours away from Baton Rouge, La., and Fayetteville, Ark.
In return, A&M is able to brand itself as the SEC school of Texas and thumb its nose at the big school and its Longhorn Network. I figured the Aggies would benefit no matter how many lumps they took in their new big-boy league.
Sumlin, who made the bold move from his successful gig at nearby Houston, saw the potential. And so did Sumlin's new defensive coordinator, who is ...
Yeah, remember him? Last we saw of him, he left Marshall's Shewey Athletic Building under duress, resigning after five frustrating years at the helm of the Thundering Herd program. He was not able to coach what would have been his only bowl game.
Snyder had his band of supporters, but it was tough to argue against the move. MU's 2008 season ended in epic collapse and the 2009 team had a special season slip through its hands.
At the end, I compiled a list of 10 painful losses, some the product of questionable game management, which led to Snyder's downfall. Win half, including that infamous 2009 game at Central Florida, and he stays. I think.
Snyder was down, but not for long. When Skip Holtz moved from East Carolina to South Florida, he hired Snyder to run the defense. (Remember, Snyder was defensive coordinator at Ohio State before taking the MU job in 2005.)
The Holtz era ended last fall after USF plummeted to 3-9, but Snyder had already vaulted to Sumlin's newly assembled Texas A&M staff. That triggered obvious wisecracks about being hired by coaches who used to take his Herd behind the woodshed.