Aggies prove why Texas is better off without them

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When he heard Texas A&M had retroactively claimed national titles from the 1919 and 1927 seasons, junior guard Mason Walters did what many people did when they heard the news — he laughed.

“Oh, so like before Prohibition?” Walters joked. “I’m just going to wish A&M luck in the SEC, and I hope they do well. I’m going to read up on that because I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t have an opinion.”

Walters is actually half right. The first of those retroactively claimed national championships actually came during a season that happened before the Prohibition era, which lasted from 1920 to 1933 in the United States — proving how laughable the notion of retroactively claiming national titles actually is.

By claiming those national titles, the Aggies proved why Texas and everyone else in the Big 12 is better without them.

Using A&M’s method of crediting itself with every national title that any organization has ever given it credit for, Texas could more than double the number of championships it has.

The Longhorns recognize four national titles they’ve won — in 1963, 1969, 1970 and 2005 — but were awarded championships by various organizations in five other years (1914, 1941, 1968, 1977, 1981).

More than two dozen organizations have awarded college football national championships at one time or another. The BCS system, which pits the top two ranked teams in a national title game, was not used until 1998. Before then, it was not uncommon for multiple teams to lay legitimate claims to national titles in the same year.

Texas men’s athletics director DeLoss Dodds said the Longhorns are not considering claiming additional national championships, although a team spokesman said that the idea has been explored. Dodds said he was unaware of Texas A&M laying claim to the 1919 and 1927 titles.

Texas won all eight of its games in 1914, marking one of seven seasons where the Longhorns went undefeated without claiming a national title, all of them between 1893 and 1923. They lost one game in each of the 1941, 1968, 1977 and 1981 seasons, although Texas went 10-1 in its 1970 national title campaign. That was the only championship Texas has claimed that wasn’t recognized by the Associated Press.

The Longhorns lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl that year, 24-11, a similar way they ended the 1977 season. Under first-year head coach Fred Akers, Texas won all 11 of its regular season contests before falling to the Fighting Irish, 38-10, in the 1977 Cotton Bowl. Texas claimed a national title in 1970 but not 1977.

In their defense, the Aggies are playing in a new conference. Eight of the other 13 teams in the SEC have won national titles before, collectively capturing 38 championships, including all of the last six. The ability to tell top-notch high school football players that they have won three national championships instead of one is sure to bring more blue-chip recruits to College Station, right?

“Obviously you want to go to a winning program,” senior safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “I think it’s nice to go with teams that are winning them a little more recently, in your generation. But nothing against [Texas A&M].”

Ironically, the Aggies head coach in 1919 and 1927 — Dana X. Bible — is the same man that served as the Longhorns head coach when Texas won an unclaimed national title in 1941.

“They didn’t even wear helmets back then,” Vaccaro said.

Texas A&M added “1997” and “2010” under the display on the northwest wall of Kyle Field showing which years it won Big 12 titles, although the Aggies are reportedly planning on changing it to reflect Big 12 South Division championships.

The Aggies won nine regular season games in 1997, going 6-2 in Big 12 play, the best mark of any team in the South Division. They lost to Nebraska, 54-15, in the conference title game that year as the Huskers went on to win their fifth national championship.

Texas A&M also won six of eight games against conference opponents in 2010, finishing in a three-way tie with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Sooners, who were ranked higher and boasted a better record, represented the Big 12 South in the conference title game, beating Nebraska, 23-20.

By the same logic, Texas could award itself a 2008 Big 12 South crown. A crushing, last-second-loss in Lubbock that season kept the Longhorns from putting together an undefeated regular season and put them in a three-way tie with Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the Big 12 South. Again, the Sooners got the nod to play in the conference title game, destroying Missouri, 62-21, before falling to Florida in the BCS National Championship.

But the Longhorns employ better logic than that. They realize how petty it would be to retroactively claim championships of any kind. Blue-chip recruits know that if they want to play for the best college football team in the Lone Star State, they’ll head to Texas, not Texas A&M.