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.