If you find the highlight of college football games to be watching gorgeous, smiling girls flipping down the field and being thrown into the air, prepare to be disappointed. Long ago, A&M chose to replace girls, pompoms, pleated skirts and cheers for boys, hand signals, white uniforms and a lot of loud yelling. Known as the Aggie Yell Leaders, the student-elected, spirit-inspiring team is composed of three seniors and two juniors. You will easily be able to spot them on the sidelines in front of the student section throwing up odd hand gestures, or “pass backs.” Like a strike of lightening before a roar of thunder, the Yell Leaders will flash one of the dozen of their pass backs; the student body — immediately recognizing the symbol — will respond with the chant that corresponds with the hand gesture. What to look out for: a Yell Leader’s left arm clapping against his bicep, his right arm pulling up with his fist clenched.
Following this pass back the students will shout, “Beat the Hell Outta t.u.” — the phrase “t.u.” being a term used by Aggies to remind themselves of the fact that the “UT is not the only university in Texas.”
Advice: Make a mental note. Win or lose, not many people are phased by the yells other than A&M fans. At the end of the day, never forget that you hail from University of Texas Longhorns ... and you have your own network.
As you pan across the East side — the student section — of Kyle Field on Thursday night, two questions are likely to come to your mind. The first, in reference to the crowd: “What’s the deal with everyone standing?” The second, in regards to the phrase featured on the crossbeam separating the second and third tiers of maroon-clad students: “What does ‘Home of the 12th Man’ mean?” The answers to these inquiries date back to the January 2, 1922, Dixie Classic — the ancestor of the modern-day Cotton Bowl — a football showdown in Dallas between Texas A&M and Center College. Although Center College was favored to win, the matchup was tight and brutal throughout. Near the end of the game, A&M had only 11 healthy players left — all of whom were on the field. Aware that his team would be forced to forfeit the game if one more injury was sustained, A&M Coach Dana X. Bible looked up into the stands and spotted former football-turned-basketball player E. King Gill in the press box assisting reporters in distinguishing Aggie players. Coach Bible beckoned Gill down from the stands and asked him to suit up and assume the role of the team’s 12th man. Without hesitation, he prepared for play. Ultimately, when the Aggies emerged victorious — outscoring Center College 22-14 — Gill, who had never entered the game, was the sole standing player that remained on the A&M sideline. “I wish I could say I went in and scored the winning touchdown but I didn’t, all I did was stand by ready to go in case my team needed me,” Gill later commented. Ever since, the A&M student body has assumed the name and spirit of the 12th man — always on its feet, ready to help its team at a moment’s notice. Aggies have been standing for nearly 90 years; be assured that their tradition will not be broken on the last game of this historic UT-TAMU rivalry.
Advice: Stay Strong. Remain standing in lifted boots or high-heeled shoes — anything to get the Longhorns one (taller) leg up on the competition.
The Singing And The Swaying
When Kyle Field is loud and rockin’ ... what on the seemingly-shuddering earth is going on? The answer: the “Aggie War Hymn.” Although the A&M student body executes its musical theater number every game, the spectacle is specifically addressed to the University of Texas; there is a good chance that Thursday will be the last football game during which the Aggies will have the opportunity to perform it in front a live Longhorn audience. The second verse of the song, which opens with “Good-bye to Texas university” is traditionally repeated twice, then followed by the Aggie anthem, “Saw Varsity’s Horns Off.” At this point A&M fans link arms, intertwine legs and sway back and forth in the opposite direction of the string of Aggies in of them. The synchronized motion, which shakes the whole upper deck, is supposed to imitate that of a saw and is a (questionably perverted) symbol of severing off Bevo’s horns. If you are not an Aggie fan numb with school spirit, the combination of singing and swaying will most likely leave you nothing more than annoyed.
Advice: Come prepared. Suggested items to bring to the game: a pair of earplugs, a bottle of Dramamine and, for Bevo’s sake, a PETA shirt.