Sports

Let the Boys Play

The game of football was first played on November 12th, 1892. The first time the University of Texas played Texas A&M in football was on October 19th, 1894. Over the next century the two schools would play each other 118 times. The game traditionally would take place on or close to Thanksgiving Day, and it was as much a part of Thanksgiving day as turkey itself. Family’s across the state would pledge their allegiance to either UT or Texas A&M. Usually one decided which side they were for based on which school they went to, but even if you didn’t attend either school one had to decide – Longhorns or Aggies? This choice wasn’t trivial. One would have to consider what type of person they were, and who they wanted to associate with. To the Aggies the Longhorns were known as “tea-sippers,” or people who looked down upon you. A Longhorn was a person who had a unique superiority complex, based on their supposed progressive outlook. Those cavalier “tea-sippers” were city folk, urbanites who thought they knew better. To a Longhorn, an Aggie was a goofy, tradition based bubba who just didn’t fit with the Austin way of doing things, and maybe someone who had to go to A&M because they didn’t get accepted by UT.  Let’s not kid ourselves when we examine what Aggies think of Longhorns and vice versa, and lets not be obtuse in observing that there is a difference between the Aggie and the Longhorn.

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Walter Cronkite once surmised the theme of being a Longhorn saying, “Is there a rallying cry for the thinkers and doers of tomorrow? A motto that sums up their passion for creativity and their pursuit of discovery? Sure there is: ‘Hook ‘Em Horns. We’re Texas. What starts here…changes the world.” Sure, this quote comes from an advertisement for UT, but it does incapsulate how UT sees their place in the state of Texas. On the other hand, Aggies can best be described by their Corps of Cadets – a student military organization. The Corps has existed since Texas A&M was first inaugurated in 1876 and has been a vital part of the school ever since. The famous General George S. Patton once said, “Give me an Army of West Point graduates and I’ll win a battle… Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I’ll win a war.” Nowadays the vast majority student populace of Texas A&M is not in the Corps, but still to this day the Corps is the heartbeat of the spirit that makes Texas A&M the wholesome community that it is today.

It can be surmised then that the philosophy of school spirit at the University of Texas is encouragement to be different, and to stress individual expression while still maintaining a community of individuals. While at Texas A&M, the philosophy of school spirit can best be described as encouragement to be an Aggie – an individual with a specific code of ethics that can observationally be separated from the rest of the universities in Texas. Generally if you are a free spirit, seeking to think differently Texas would be the school for you. If you are someone that seeks community and traditions and to relate to one another through a system of similarities, Texas A&M would be the school for you. Texas A&M even has a phrase for those who attend their school, but don’t partake in the many traditions that make Texas A&M, Texas A&M, and that is ” 2 percenters.” Obviously there are exceptions to both of these descriptions, but generally it is true to say hippies go to Texas, and rural types go to Texas A&M.

Each Thanksgiving day, these differences would collide on a football field and it would literally be a clash of cultures. Both schools reference the other in their fight songs, with Texas A&M’s stating “Good-bye to texas university, So long to the orange and the white…” While Texas’ fight song stated “Texas Fight, Texas Fight, 
And it’s goodbye to A&M.”

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 It was an essential part of being a Texan, but it is no more.

I’m not going to give you a chronological story-line of how this happened (so many people have already done this google it), but in 2011 it seems that Texas and Texas A&M played for the last time.

It is arguable that both schools are better off not playing each other anymore, but I refuse to be a part of that camp. Tom Herman, the new head coach at Texas seems to agree saying, “We don’t play a rival at home ever. I don’t know why we can’t play A&M as our marquee non-conference opponent.” Even Texas A&M’s current head coach seems to think the same saying, “I think over the course of time that’s going to happen.”

However, unless it’s in a bowl game it’s very unlikely that the two schools will play in the near future. Since Texas A&M has left the Big 12 conference the SEC has done nothing but profited from this move. Texas A&M’s move has opened up Houston, one of the biggest markets to the SEC, with six of the Houston area’s 10 most-watched college football games in 2016 having been SEC contests, and only two were Big 12 matchups.

Rank Matchup Conference Rating
1 Alabama vs. Texas A&M SEC 8.5
2 Alabama vs. Florida SEC 8.5
3 Alabama vs. LSU SEC 8.2
4 Oklahoma vs. Texas Big 12 7.2
5 Houston vs. Temple AAC 7.0
6 Alabama vs. Auburn SEC 6.9
7 Baylor vs. TCU Big 12 6.5
8 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M SEC 6.5
9 Houston vs. Navy AAC 6.1
10 Alabama vs. Tennessee SEC 6.1

sportsday.dallasnews.com

Not only that, but the SEC has taken the Big 12 to the woodshed in terms of recruiting. The SEC has hauled in more of the state’s top-10 recruits than the Big 12 in the past four years. Despite Texas A&M’s mediocrity as of late, they still put up top ten recruiting classes year after year. It’s no secret anymore, the big time players want to play in the SEC not in the Big 12.

The football fans across the state of Texas deserve to see the rivalry continued. If Texas thinks its’ program is superior to Texas A&M’s, then continuing the rivalry will give Texas a chance to land the highly touted recruits it used to get regularly.  If Texas A&M wants to prove that its switch to the SEC made their team the best college football program in the state of Texas, then it should have no problem testing their metal against Texas. We all know this is just wishful thinking, but one never knows what the future may hold.

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If there’s one thing that Texas A&M, and Texas have in common it’s their gigantic egos, and it is exactly this that led to them ending the rivalry.

Both schools intoxicate their fan base with a sense of loyalty that is beyond the reach of rational thinking. Admit it, we all know several Aggies who are a few cents short of a dollar, and we all know Longhorn fans that think they know everything. It’s not like either program is knocking on the door of a national championship. This intoxication rises to all levels of both universities with both schools scorning the other. Maybe it was the right move for Texas A&M to break off from big brother Texas, they’re certainly making a lot more money I’d assume since the switch to the SEC. Maybe Texas doesn’t need Texas A&M to prove anything about their program, and maybe Tom Herman is the messiah sent from the football gods to take their program all the way.

I don’t have a dog in this fight. I just want Thanksgiving day to be what it used to be with maroon and burnt orange battling till there is a victor. The rivalry was almost as old as football itself. Perhaps one day it will happen again, but I won’t get my hopes up.

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