I'm honestly not stirring the pot here. I read an article on this topic recently. Can't remember where it was. Could've been Ian Boyd, could've been on The Athletic. I honestly don't remember. But I thought it was a well written article that brought up some good points that maybe we could have a civil discussion about.
So the premise of the article and the discussion is this...would the team that A&M fielded in 2012 won the national title if they had still been playing in the Big 12.
2012 Big 12 Football Standings
1 Kansas State 11-2 (8-1)
2 Oklahoma 10-3 (8-1)
3 Texas 9-4 (5-4)
4 Oklahoma State 8-5 (5-4)
5 Baylor 8-5 (4-5)
6 Texas Tech 8-5 (4-5)
7 TCU 7-6 (4-5)
8 West Virginia 7-6 (4-5)
9 Iowa State 6-7 (3-6)
10 Kansas 1-11 (0-9)
A&M offensively was just a different animal than we've seen in a long time. Obviously Manziel at QB was studly once they got rolling. They were incredibly talented up front, and had a bevy of skill position talent built up as well. Even if the defense struggled against the Big 12 spread offenses...that A&M offense would've torched the 2012 Big 12 defenses on a weekly basis.
We obviously don't know 100% what the Big 12 would've looked like had A&M stayed put. More than likely Missouri doesn't leave and TCU and West Virginia don't join. Either way...none of those 3 beat the Aggies.
A&M pretty easily steam rolls Kansas and Iowa State.
TCU, Tech and Baylor were not going to beat the Aggies either and they most likely get thumped in the process.
Texas...well as a Longhorn...lets just be glad that A&M was in the SEC at this point. I shudder to think of that Manny Diaz led defense trying to stop the Aggies.
Which leads us to the 2 biggest teams that could've challenged the Aggies. Oklahoma we already saw the end result. Kansas State's best chance would've been to keep Manziel off the field...and even that would've boiled down to whether or not Klein was fully healthy when they played. Either way...don't think K-State knocks them off either.
As the author of the article pointed out...no one in the Big 12 was going to consistently defend the Aggies.
So A&M most likely runs the table and wins the Big 12. And considering their non-conference slate that year was SMU, South Carolina State, Louisiana Tech and Sam Houston State I think that is a safe assumption. If that had happened...we still would've gotten A&M vs Alabama, it just would've been for all the marbles. I really think A&M would've won that game again. 1) it would've been neutral site instead of in Tuscaloosa 2) Saban would not have had the luxury of seeing Florida and LSU slow down A&M on tape. 3) The extra time to prepare argument would fall flat...Saban had an entire offseason to gameplan for A&M and proceeded to give up even more yards and points the next year.