Taking Texas Back

With seven Big 12 Championships and deep postseason runs, Texas A&M is proving that it is rising to the top of the college athletic scene across the board.

The 2006-2007 sports season has arguably been the best year of sports in Texas A&M school history. The Aggies have racked up seven Big 12 Conference titles and made it to the Sweet 16 or further in four NCAA postseason tournaments.

Oh, and let's not forget "12-7."

At a school that has historically held a "burning desire" to beat the hell out of its arch rival Texas, this has been an extra special year for many Aggie fans.

Even though Texas won the State Farm Lonestar Showdown by two points, A&M has advanced further in NCAA postseason play than the Horns in every major sport and then some.

In addition to the head-to-head football victory in Austin this year, the Aggies went to a higher level bowl game, accepting a bid to play in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Meanwhile, the Longhorns fell from BCS bowl talk to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio after back to back losses to Kansas State and A&M to end the season.

Texas won the head to head match up in "the other football" this fall for just the second time in the series' history. But when it mattered the most, A&M proved to be the only team in Texas among the nation's elite and was the lone Big 12 squad to reach the Elite 8 in the NCAA Soccer tournament.

The Aggies laid a 100-82 whipping on the Longhorns at Reed Arena in February, just two days after knocking off eventual Big 12 Champion Kansas at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The Aggies were the first team from the Big 12 South Division to ever win at Kansas in the history of the Big 12 Conference, and the back-to-back wins against marquee opponents on national television put the program on the map.

Texas squeaked out with the win in a double-overtime thriller a few weeks later to split the season series, but A&M again had the last laugh. When March Madness rolled around, the Aggies were one of two Big 12 teams to advance to the Sweet 16—and Texas wasn't one of them.

The Aggies and Horns split the regular season tilts, but the Aggies clinched a share of the Big 12 championship at Reed Arena in the season finale against traditional powerhouse Texas.

When the NCAA Tournament rolled around, once again, A&M proved to be the dominant program, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in a 64-team field that did not include Texas.

This spring, the Aggies continued to steal the headlines in a sport that has been dominated by Texas in recent years. Since the departure of Kat Osterman, Texas softball has been on the decline while the Aggies have made a serious charge to the top of the college softball world.

This spring, the Aggies advanced to their first Women's College World Series appearance in 20 years, and once again, the Longhorns had a great view of the action on ESPN from the comfort of their couches.

Earlier this week, the Aggie baseball team put one final feather in A&M's collective hat with an incredible three-game winning streak to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals against Rice this weekend in Houston.

Much like the Longhorn softball squad, the Aggies' counterparts in Austin will watch on ESPN after UC-Irvine upset the national seed to win the Austin Regional.

But taking over Texas is just the beginning in A&M's plan.

A&M's baseball coach Rob Childress, track coach Pat Henry and women's basketball coach Gary Blair have already shown that they're on their way to taking their programs to the national level.

A&M soccer coach G Guerrieri has built one of the top five soccer programs in the country.

New men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon has established his presence in just a few short months by holding onto every single recruit who had signed with Texas A&M, including Texas' top-rated high school player DeAndre Jordan. Every player on the team is excited to play for him and with momentum at an all-time high for the program, there's no reason to think Aggie basketball is going anywhere but up.

Football coach Dennis Franchione will have what could be the best A&M offense from top to bottom in school history to work with this year. With an offensive line full of upper classmen and one of the most talented running back corps in the nation, another solid performance by Gary Darnell's defense could take the A&M football team to another level this fall as well.

But that's why Texas A&M brought in Director of Athletics Bill Byrne from Nebraska. Former A&M President Robert Gates wanted to be the best at everything, including athletics, and that's what the department has done to this point under Byrne.

Byrne hopes to expand the Aggie empire in 2007-2008.

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