Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)
“Texas fight, Texas fight and it’s goodbye to A&M.” The words of the Texas fight song rang loud for the last time this year at the annual duel between The University of Texas and Texas A&M.
The last match-up between the two Texas football powerhouses was a bittersweet ending to an 117-year rivalry. Now, the eyes of Texas are upon the Aggies as they abandon the Big 12 for the alluring SEC. With that decision, ends one, if not the greatest football rivalries of all time.
The annual Turkey Day battle between the burnt orange and the maroon is not just a game played once a year; it’s not just another team on the schedule. This game makes or breaks the season. It’s a rivalry in every sense of the word; a chance for bragging rights for a whole year among family and friends. Neighborhood kids that grow up playing with each other become gridiron gladiators, fighting for the ultimate goal of beating the other. This football game divides households, friendships, and the state of Texas.
This past Thanksgiving, a historic battle between two Texas universities ran deep in the pulse of Texans who have watched year after year as these two waged war. With their final game, its happy trails to a Texas tradition that I have grown up with, that my kids have grown up with and one that I would love my grandkids to grow up with.
The Longhorns walked out of Kyle field with a 27-25 victory and the bragging rights for at least another 10 years (or until a non-conference game becomes available). As the Aggies left their Austin counter-parts for what they believe are bigger and better fields in the SEC, they ended a 117-year relationship with the sudden divorce. Maybe the Aggies were tired of playing in the shadow of BEVO. After all, Texas holds a 2-1 lead in overall wins.
Not all people are glad about the end of this era. Even some Texas citizens with no ties to either school have suggested the legislature pass a law requiring the two state schools to play each other every year in football.
The rivalry between UT and Texas A&M is beyond a Saturday football game. Here at home, college football has become somewhat of a religion to many people — a deep-rooted passion between rival mascots and school colors clashing into hard-hitting victories. It’s the Junction Boys, the Tyler Rose, the last-minute touchdown run by Vince Young in the Rose Bowl for the National Championship. This is beyond college football; it’s Texas football. Nowhere is it exemplified better than between the two schools.
It all started in the 19th century. Grover Cleveland was president when on Friday, Oct. 19, 1894, the University of Texas and Texas A&M University began their on- field feud. Texas A&M was a military academy until the mid 60’s. The Aggies’ record against the burnt orange suffered because of this, but this game was a must win among both schools. The Aggies hired legendary coach Bear Bryant as head coach and athletic director, but Bryant only defeated the University of Texas one time in the four years he commanded before moving on to Alabama.
As A&M transitioned out of being solely a military academy, their traditions against the Longhorns were passed down from generation to generation. The two universities fed off of each other’s student camaraderie by trying to out-do the other with war hymns, anthems, school pride, pep rallies and hand signs. Both schools even denounce the other in their school songs.
Legend has it that the UT mascot BEVO established his name after Aggies branded the steer with a 13-0 score from the 1915 season. After the branding, Texas officials tuned the 13 into the letter B and added the E and V into the middle, creating the name BEVO — one of the most recognized mascots in college football. Modern Texas revisionists claim this is all bunk. Who knows.
Even today, A&M has their hand in the well-being of the beloved mascot. When BEVO becomes ill, Texas officials have to quietly transport him to the College Station campus – to A&M’s top ranked veterinarian program. They see it as a top secret mission so as to not invoke the students to “defame” the legendary steer.
Today, the rivalry between the students of each school is still alive. But there is no more football between the schools. The last game has been played; the teams have left the field; and the clock has ticked down to 0:00. In their losing effort this year , the Aggie faithful sang the “ Aggie War Hymn” for the last time at the UT- A&M game. “So it is goodbye to Texas University, so long to the orange and the white…..” This may be so, but it ought not to be. The people of State of Texas deserve to see these two great universities do their annual Thanksgiving battle with the pigskin. There is too much history and too much fight left for these football teams to abolish a Texas tradition.
And that’s just the way it is.