The University of Texas versus Texas A&M football game held in College Station’s Kyle Field Nov. 24, 2011, was the last game between the two universities. A&M’s decision to split from the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference not only ended a 118-year-old rivalry with UT, but a series of traditions as well.
With Justin Tucker’s 40-yard field goal in the final seconds of the game scoring UT three points, the longhorns ended the rivalry with a winning score of 27-25.
In addition to sharing aggressive attitudes toward one another during the match, from spewing war hymns to cheers to raising longhorn hand signs to the sky while Aggies hiss, the two universities viewed the past game as a historical event marking the end of a major tradition.
|A shot I took of Kyle Field during the first quarter of the game|
“Being at the game was fun, and chilly,” said Sarah L. Brown, a sophomore history major studying at A&M. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity especially since it was the last game so I’m glad I could be there. Also, being an Aggie is like being in a big family, and just being all together in supporting the football team together was great – the strong energy and vibe made the game so much more interesting.”
Alex Wigton, a general studies sophomore at A&M, also found the last game to be entertaining yet dismal.
“I thought the game was a historical event for football, and I was really glad to be a part of it,” Wigton said. “Both teams played well and were fairly equally matched so it kept the fans involved and made it a great game.”
“The most memorable part for me was when A&M scored the touchdown which put us in the lead, we were all so excited,” Wigton continued. “That and the halftime show were really good; I thought it was nice of UT to include a thanks to A&M in their routine.”
“I think it’s sad that the rivalry is ending,” Brown said. “I think our war song is pointless now since it’s based on UT. It seems like our school is built with the rivalry against UT so we’ll see how we change. I just hope we don’t lose too badly in the SEC.”
A&M’s war song, “The Aggie War Hymn,” dedicates nearly half of its lyrics to UT. For instance, one lyric says that UT’s alma mater, “The Eyes of Texas”, “sounds like hell.” Another long-standing tradition is rolling a burnt orange wheelbarrow with “t.u.” painted on it around the field. With UT no longer being a competitor, these traditions might end.
“My favorite part of our rivalry was that having a common enemy really brought everyone together and helped us further develop our university spirit and pride – plus, I’ve never really liked UT that much anyway so it has been fun hating on them,” Wigton said. “I’m sad this is the last UT versus A&M game because those are pretty much the only football teams I care about. I don’t know if A&M is going to do very well in the SEC but hopefully next season won’t be disappointing.”
While UT fans were in euphoric states at Kyle Field when UT won despite the overwhelming silence of attendants sporting maroon, they also feel concerned about the rivalry’s conclusion.
“I feel that this game ended a tradition between the two schools, but there will always be a strong connection between the two universities and I’m sure we’ll play them once again in years to come, regardless of their conference,” said Vi Tran, a public relations freshman studying at UT. “The rivalry is a highlight of Thanksgiving Day and provides great entertainment, so it will be different without that event in the next years.”
“Watching the UT versus A&M game is part of a family tradition and lived up to my expectations because the game was so close, and UT won – the tie between Malcolm Brown running and the last kick by Justin Tucker in the last three seconds of the game was definitely the most entertaining part,” Tran continued. “I’m just really going to miss the hype that is associated with the game for both teams.”
Even the marching bands displayed their affection for the competitiveness between the two universities during their halftime shows. The Longhorn Band performed “Bicycle Race” by Queen while forming the shape of a bicycle. Following the show, UT presented A&M with the A&M flag it has waved during the band’s performances since the beginning of their rivalry in 1894.
|Top photo: the Longhorn Band performs Queen’s “Bicycle Ride” and forms into the shape of a bicycle. Bottom photo: We were on the opposite side so we saw the formation of the Longhorn Band forming “Thank You A&M” upside-down.|
A&M’s marching band executed a marching routine featuring complex line-ups, as well as a formation suggesting sawing a longhorn’s horns off, one of A&M’s gestures toward UT.
Despite the pomp and circumstance of the bands’ performances coupled with the cheering of UT fans and the silence of A&M fans upon UT’s win, the future between the two institutions’ rivalry remains unknown.
“It’s going to be different without the rivalry, but maybe it’ll open up the possibility for new rivalries,” said Erin Gleim, UT political communication sophomore. “It’s always nice for there to be variety, and even though I think it’s kind of sad we won’t be playing A&M, maybe something better and more entertaining will come along.”
The universities will simply have to wait until next year to see the effect of A&M’s decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC.