Respect gives you a lot of leeway. For instance, utter the words, “With all due respect,” prior to a statement, and you can say just about anything to someone and get away with it.
Respect gives you clout, even when you’re disliked. The Red Sox and Yankees hate each other with a passion. But there is a respect factor that overrides all of it, and it is a big part of being one of the best rivalries in sports.
Speaking of rivalries, I think most of us are still disappointed that the Texas-Texas A&M football game no longer is played. I say “most of us” because I, honestly, am not. Not anymore, anyway.
Let me explain.
Everyone knows I’m an Aggie. When the possibility first came up a few years ago that Texas A&M could move from the Big 12 to the SEC, I had visions of bringing back an old A&M tradition in playing the LSU Tigers in the first game of the season, while maintaining an old one by continuing to play Texas on Thanksgiving. It made sense to me since Florida plays Florida State, Georgia plays Georgia Tech and South Carolina plays Clemson in a non-conference rivalry to end each year in the SEC.
In fact, A&M offered to continue playing Texas, but then-AD DeLoss Dodds would have none of it, claiming that the Horns’ non-conference slate was already put to bed for years and there was no room.
Fine, whatever reason you wish to cite. That’s OK, DeLoss. You have that right. We’ve got plenty of pretty darn good opponents in the SEC anyway.
I was somewhat disappointed at the time, but once I thought about it a bit, one truth came to the surface for me that trumped all other opinions on the rivalry. And I’ve never looked back.
Texas has never respected Texas A&M. Ever.
Going back as far as 1890 when the state senate tried to shut down the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas and build a new state school in Austin, mainly because of some “chicken ranch” in La Grange, leading to an actual fist -fight on the senate floor (true story).
Texas has always looked down its nose towards A&M. Texas might hate OU, but the respect is there. I’ve never felt that same sentiment coming from Austin towards College Station. That was never more clear than when Texas leadership tried to manipulate a six-team migration west to the PAC-10 in 2010 and kept A&M in the dark along the way, only saying, “Don’t worry; we’ll take care of you.” When A&M balked and the deal cratered, Texas took credit for saving the Big 12 (another true story).
The Horns have never respected the Aggies. That alone gives me enough reason to say, unequivocally, I never want to play them again.
Remember, A&M is the “little brother.” Never mind that we’ve been around longer. Never mind that we have a larger undergraduate population. But we’re not the “flagship,” so of course there’s no way we can stand on our own and forge our own identity. Wrong.
Many scoffed at the mere idea that A&M could be successful playing in the SEC. My response then to the doubters (and now, even): those who cannot see the potential have very limited vision in what Texas A&M is and can be as a football program.
One of those doubters back in 2011 was Texas writer Chip Brown, who claimed at the time that the Aggies’ move to the SEC was “not happening.” Now he claims that “sources” tell him that A&M and/or the SEC is “ducking Texas” in a possible matchup in the Texas Bowl, played in Houston.
Of course the media jumped all over this latest report, both here in Texas and nationally. Here we go again.
Look, there is no question that the Texas Bowl would love to have the Horns and Ags so they can sell tickets and have more eyeballs on their game for their sponsors. I get it and I don’t blame them for wanting it.
The SEC made it clear prior to the new bowl system that the conference will be protecting slots for its teams so that they get placed in the correct level of bowls. Favors and the political game take a back seat to league standings.
Somehow that translated into “the SEC will block any Aggies-Horns matchup in the Texas Bowl.” The LSU-A&M game will have a larger factor in the chances of what SEC team goes where than a bowl committee lobbying for a certain match-up. Hey, if LSU beats the Aggies on Thanksgiving at Kyle Field and sends them to a 7-5 record, the Texas Bowl might be an appropriate spot.
But, for me, the next time Texas and Texas A&M meet on the football field, it needs to actually mean something. Don’t line them up as a bit just so you can put butts in seats. If we’re doing that, then simply schedule them during the season.
I’m not sure if current Texas AD Steve Patterson still has a full non-conference slate. I don’t know if A&M AD Eric Hyman has any interest in scheduling Texas in the future.
For me, it’s pretty simple and clear cut. So, with all due respect, I have two words for the fine people who run the state institution for higher learning in our state capital. And since I can’t really say the two words I want to say, I’ll give you these instead: No, thanks.