Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Longhorn - Aggies Rivalry Dead?

Texas A&M University today officially notified the Big 12 Conference that the institution will submit an application to join another athletic conference. Should this application be accepted, Texas A&M will end its membership in the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012 A&M Leaves Big XII Statement

And with those words, all the talk about A&M leaving for the SEC becomes a near reality. For the school's best interest, the Aggies have decided to go play in another conference. Best interest?!? You know what would of been in their best interest, if the Aggies, in the last 15 years, managed to be the big time school they strive to be in the SEC. Rarely, did they make noise in the 2 major sports, football and baskebtall. Only 1 Big 12 Championship in 1998 and at 5-15, A&M has the worst record in Big 12 basketball tourney play. However, this year, the women's basketball team brought home A&M's first championship in a major sport since the 1930s. The football team has its highest pre-season ranking. The basketball team has posted 6 straight 20+ win seasons and advanced to the 2nd round of the national tournament the last 5 years. The school's rising athletic program would of brought plenty of interest when the Aggies challenged the likes of OU and Texas in football or Kansas in basketball. Staying would of been in your best interest. So why leave now?

The reasons are many and repeated like a broken record - to get out of UT's shadow, play better schools in the SEC, hate the Longhorn Network, can't get enough money, blah, blah, blah.

Clearly, a lot has to do with the Texas Longhorns and some blame should be put on them for what will eventually be the end of a long state rivalry. When Texas agreed to be part of the Longhorn network, I'm pretty sure they didn't think the breakdown and potential rebuild of the Big 12 was going to happen. Regardless, UT has unofficially said they are looking at other schools to fill the Aggies' spot on Thanksgiving night. That action alone justifies what A&M is silently saying. UT is already assuming they will get the Thanksgiving night game. Maybe college football fans want to see A&M versus Alabama or LSU. Unfortunately for the Aggies, UT's new best friend, ESPN, has the rights to the that game. The Aggies make one slow step forward and hit another roadblock.

Forget A&M and think of what Texas rivalry is already gone - Nebraska. They are a football school with a rich history, Heisman trophy winners and national championships! Sounds like the Longhorns' love rival, the Sooners. A&M and UT have a football rivalry dating back to 1894. Being the state's 2 oldest public schools, the growing alumni and fan base makes the rivalry increasingly special. Rivalries are created based on a history. They can't be built overnight. Playing a storied program like Notre Dame doesn't make me dislike the FIghting Irish immediately but annoying school pride, underdog victories and fight songs directed at UT does. By the way, Aggies, you're going to have to change that.

No longer will we have the entire nation's interest in a primetime match-up as big as the state of Texas. No longer will we have the days when UT walks into Kyle Field undefeated hoping to jump one of its last hurdles towards the BCS National Championship Game. No matter how good or bad of a season A&M is having, ruining Texas' chances is a trophy in itself. At the same time, Longhorns prayed to every godly spirit they could think of to not let them be on the wrong side of an upset and come out unharmed. Speaking of harm, can you imagine the rowdy crowds at every A&M football game this year? Oklahoma State, Texas & Missouri pay visits to College Station while the Aggies travel to Lubbock and Norman. From what I hear the latter 2 are not friendly places. But neither are Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa.

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