Aggies

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

It was already a beautiful day: sunny, 70 degrees and a cool breeze after days of thunderstorms. College Station almost could have been nice. Except that it’s College Station. 

On Sunday, Texas’ intramural flag football champions trekked to College Station for the second annual Lone Star Intramural Showdown, a matchup of the two rivals’ intramural powerhouses. As the two schools’ flag football teams faced off, it was clear this was far more than just another game of intramural football.

The Longhorns repped black Nike Dri-FIT shirts, bold burnt orange “WE’RE TEXAS” running across the shirts above a Longhorn decal. Their Aggie counterparts donned various maroon shirts, white writing bearing some indication of their own identities: Texas A&M, the Aggies. The 120-year-old rivalry still holds much clout. The intramural showdown captured that energy. If only SEC officials were there to see.

Following Texas’ 28-7 drubbing of Oklahoma State and subsequent ascent to bowl eligibility, rumors surfaced that Texas and Texas A&M might face each other in a Big 12-SEC bowl matchup, sending fans abuzz with excitement. But soon after, reports said the SEC shut it down. Chip Brown of Scout’s HornsDigest reported that the SEC officials said it’d be bad for recruiting.

According to Brown, two sources told HornsDigest.com that SEC officials will not arrange a Texas-Texas A&M bowl game should the opportunity arise. Although the conference places its teams in six of the postseason matchups, it appears not to focus on rivalry benefits or fan excitement. Instead, recruiting remains its main concern.

Mark Womack, SEC’s executive associate commissioner, said the conference hasn’t made a decision either way.

“It’s way too early at this point to start looking at what potential matchup in games could be,” FoxSports reported Womack saying in Wednesday’s SEC conference call. “The first thing we have to do is determine what is the pool of teams we have available after the College Football Playoff bowl games are filled. … It’s way too early to start talking about particular matchups and particular games.”

But other reports say the SEC won’t risk A&M’s recruiting pipeline by pitting it against a Texas team that has the potential to win. Texas officials, too, have shown scattered disinterest in playing the Aggies since A&M left for the SEC in 2012. But it’s time for the rivalry to resurface.

Texas abounds with traditions, many of which link directly to the rival Aggies. Monday night’s pre-Thanksgiving Hex Rally was initiated in 1941 to hex the College Station opponents, and the Texas fight song explicitly says, “goodbye to A&M.” Texas has maintained many of its traditions even without the rivalry. But it’s not the same, and a bowl-game rivalry would bring much of the excitement back to the Lone Star State’s athletics.

Sure, a UT-A&M bowl game matchup may have recruiting implications. But it’s just a single game, post-season, that might not even feature new play. College football hooks fans because of its school spirit and amateurism — what should be the last vestige of non-commercialized competitive sport. 

And it’s time for the bowl game to revive the controversy and readdress which Texas public university truly dominates the college football landscape. Neither school is ranked nor playoff-eligible, and neither is even the best in Texas, thanks to Baylor and TCU.

During Sunday’s Lone Star Intramural Showdown, Kyle Field towered over the intramural turfs. Its prestige seems almost ironic as Texas’ coed and men’s squads executed 24-0 and 27-0 shutouts, respectively. Leaving the field, Longhorn competitors chanted the fight song and pronounced “goodbye to A&M” with extra clarity. A white decal on the maroon stadium sign visible from the turf said “Welcome to Aggieland, Home of the 12th man.”    

Aggieland, it appears, is ready to welcome home the Longhorns. Texas players are ready to meet their longtime foe. And the SEC should let the opportunity happen. 

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

For the eighth straight year, the Longhorns have advanced to the NCAA regional, or round of 16, after knocking off Texas A&M (25-14, 25-18, 15-25, 25-19) Friday evening in Gregory Gym.  While Texas State’s quick-tempo offense avoided the Texas block in the first round, the Aggies couldn’t find their away around Texas’ front line, who recorded a season-high 18.5 blocks in the match.

“We’re not used to going up against Bailey [Webster] who touches 17 feet,” A&M middle Sierra Patrick joked. “They are supposed to block us. They are massive.”

Four of the seven first game blocks came in the match’s first 12 points, helping Texas jump to a 9-3 advantage. Senior setter Hannah Allison also started the match spreading the ball more than against Texas State where 75 of the 110 sets went to All-American outsides Haley Eckerman and Bailey Webster. With better ball movement came better results as Texas swung a season-best .684 in the first set.

“Film refreshed our minds a bit,” junior middle Khat Bell, who recorded eight blocks in the match, said. “We were feeling it from the start.”

Texas’ ability to put the ball away didn’t carry into the second match as A&M was able to hang around. The Longhorns had the same amount of kills—14—as they did in the first set, but needed 28 more attempts. However, A&M’s inability to put balls away and nine errors, led to Texas going on a 13-5 run to close the match.

Texas’ sluggish played continued into the third set, where poor passing and eight hitting errors, led to A&M crushing the Longhorns by ten points, their second worst set of the year.

“We broke down passing while having some bad swings offensively,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We had eight hitting errors. And on the flip side, the Aggies played well.”

The Aggies kept the momentum rolling into the fourth set, opening a 6-3 lead. Led by Webster and the Texas block, though, the Longhorns went on a 6-1 run to open a 9-7 advantage; they wouldn’t trail again. A 7-0 run pushed the Longhorns lead to 19-12, before they closed out the rival Aggies.

“We got back to the basics and starting playing our game.” Eckerman said.

Eckerman finished the night with 20 kills while Webster recorded 18 of her own. The Longhorns, who finished the night swinging .298, will continue their road to Seattle Dec. 10 in Lincoln, NE where they could potentially face No. 16 Duke and No. 8 Nebraska on their home court if they win their second round games Saturday.

“It was a battle,” Elliott said. “It’s hard to play a perfect match. They put pressure on us and I’m proud of how our team responded. No matter what seed you are, we don’t take this win for granted. It’s an honor to be in the round of 16.”

 

The Longhorns are riding high on a 15-game winning streak, hitting an impressive .354 as a team, sporting a lockdown 1.15 team ERA, and playing some of the best softball in the country — moving all the way up to fifth in the polls this week. But when Texas A&M comes into town today, you can throw all of those stats out the window.
 
This is a rivalry game above all the others for Texas sports, so it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about play on the diamond or the gridiron. Both teams come to play with an intensity that you can only see in a game when these two Texas powerhouses go head to head. 
 
“It’s intense, it’s fun, there’s a lot of energy flowing with in the crowd and everything is just real exciting,” said junior 
Nadia Taylor.
 
Not only is the rivalry spurred on because it’s Texas versus A&M, but also because a lot of the players on both sides have played together through the years in high school, giving the game a more personal feel.
 
“I grew up with a lot of people that go to A&M so there’s always that rivalry, and just playing A&M, no matter what sport it is, there’s always a rivalry. It’s awesome every year,” said junior Lexy Bennett.
 
The Longhorns are gunning for revenge in 2011, after losing last year on a late error that forced a season split, a trend the Longhorns do not want to see continued.
 
“We have to compete no matter what, all seven innings, and even sometimes we go into those eighth innings it’s 0-0 going into the seventh like it was last year.” Bennett said. “I think that’s a bullet for us that we want to get them this year, and we want [to] sweep them this year, we don’t want splitting, and I think that’s been a goal for us.”
 
When the teams take the field today at McCombs, it’s sure to be a raucous crowd that adds a new level of intensity to what is an already incredible rivalry. One that has been about as even as can be up to this point, with the all-time record of the series being 18-17 for Texas A&M, a stat the Longhorns are looking to swing back in their favor this year.
 
“A&M, facing them, the crowd is just ridiculous and is stronger than in any other game we face,” said junior Courtney Craig said. “It’s fun competition. We’re always pumped up to see them, excited to play them, our history is back and forth. We always just want to take it to them each year.”