Like aging childhood friends, schools ready to grow past rivalry

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The Texas offense huddles before a play aginst the Aggies in 2008. The two teams will play the final relevant game of the rivalry on Thursday

Photo Credit: Paul Chouy | Daily Texan Staff

This rivalry has seen its fair share of just about everything over the last 118 years.

Like a pair of college students themselves, Texas and Texas A&M have been through ups and downs together, and as much as they always competed, they knew one couldn’t exist without the other. Now as these old friends are ready to part, start different lives in different parts of the country, one can’t help but imagine them reminiscing over all the good, the bad, the funny, the ugly and everything in between. It’d be a scene that played like old college buddies grabbing their last beers.

“Hey remember that first time we played you guys in 1884?” Texas would say before taking a sip. “We beat you so bad (38-0) that you didn’t play another game for two years.” It’s true, the Aggies played the Longhorns in their lone 1894 game, and never fielded another team until 1896. Texas dominated the early part of the series so convincingly, that Texas A&M didn’t score its first series touchdown and victory until 1902.

“But wait a second. Remember how badly you fell for that flea-flicker we ran in 1909? We won 5-0 that game, when touchdowns were worth as much as a nickel,” Texas A&M would retort. “As a matter of fact, we played you guys twice that year, and won both games didn’t we?” They did.

They’d laugh about the funny times, like when Texas A&M pranked the Longhorns with the “hideout play” in its 1939 victory, or when the Longhorns took a fortune teller’s advice in 1941 to burn red candles before the game for good luck. The joke is on A&M, Texas would point out, because the Longhorns won that year 23-0.

They’d marvel at their incredible performances.

“Dude, remember Ricky Williams in ,'98?” Texas would say.

“How could anyone forget?” A&M would concede.

And of course, they’d mourn together over the hard times. More people remember the moments of unity leading up to the game in 1999 after 12 Aggie students tragically died in the bonfire collapse, than they do the epic comeback they mounted to beat the Longhorns that year.

Discussion of their rivalry over the last decade would undoubtedly resurface wounds of betrayal and disrespect that finally seemed to reach their limits this year. One would hope that instead of allowing the bar conversation to end in a bitter revival of their mutual hatred, or even a drunken sob-fest over the end of 118 crazy years together, it would end on a note of well-wishes. Texas would say thanks for being the best neighbor a person could ask to grow up with, and the Texas A&M would walk away knowing that it can no longer try to succeed in the shadow of its more imposing friend down road, but rather that it needs to forge its own destiny and legend that people will see as wholly “Aggie” 118 years from now.

The more I reflect, this rivalry, as sad as it seems to say, is ready to end. It has been an incredible ride and for everyone playing, coaching and watching this game, it will be something special to witness for one last time.