Texas playing Texas A&M on Thanksgiving used to be as sure as death and taxes.
But one of college football’s oldest rivalries became one of conference realignment’s most notable casualties when the Aggies decided the grass was greener in the SEC. The 118th meeting between the in-state foes will be the last for a while as the Longhorns’ non-conference schedule is booked through 2017. The rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M is one of the nation’s fiercest, but with this year’s clash possibly being their last, emotions are sure to run high.
“It’s kind of a surreal moment just because this is the last A&M game that we’re going to be playing,” said senior tight end Blaine Irby. “It really doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 in the country or last in the country. It’s still going to be a great game between the two teams.”
Kyle Field, known as the home of the 12th man, is one of the country’s most raucous stadiums. The 83,000-seat venue has held upwards of 90,000 people and doesn’t get much louder than when the Aggies take on the Longhorns. But Kyle Field’s loudest day may come Thursday night when Texas A&M’s wildest supporters cram into the stadium for what they know could be the last time their beloved Aggies have a chance to take Texas down.
“The atmosphere there is as crazy as it gets in college football,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho. “It’s going to be crazy. Their normal games are already crazy, so imagine it when we come to town.”
Both the decibel levels and the levels of animosity between the Longhorns and Aggies are always high. Whether it be A&M’s leaving the Big 12 or Texas’ Longhorn Network, the Lone Star Showdown participants always find different reasons to loathe each other.
“There’s a lot of hate going around,” said senior guard David Snow. “[Kyle Field]’s one of the most hostile [environments] — home of the 12th man, and the 12th man sure doesn’t like us.”
The college football landscape has been ravaged by conference realignment this year. The Big East has lost three of its eight football programs, with many of the remaining five rumored to be considering leaving as well. Meanwhile, the Big 12 has lost four teams in the past 17 months and seen two of its biggest rivalries — Nebraska-Oklahoma and Texas-Texas A&M — fall by the wayside.
“I wish Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and A&M were still in the Big 12,” said head coach Mack Brown. “I don’t think it’s good for Texas high school football not to be able to showcase that game across the country. It’s been a fun game for me to coach in and watch before I got here.”
Brown said that he has not met with men’s athletic director DeLoss Dodds or president Bill Powers about who the Longhorns will play on Thanksgiving, if they will play on Thanksgiving at all. But he did say that he thought both schools would be fine without each other.
“Texas is going to be Texas and Texas A&M is going to be A&M,” Brown said. “There’ll be other rivals. Texas Tech’s a rival. Baylor’s a rival. TCU’s coming in the league and they’ll be another rival. There’ll be enough rivals.”
It’s hard to believe that Texas will find a rival like Texas A&M, though.
Printed on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 as: And it's goodbye to A&M...