Before the season, I told everyone who would listen that I didn't care to ever play Texas again. At that time, I think I was definitely in the minority of Aggies on that subject. However, as this season has progressed, I think more and more fans are coming around to my way of thinking. In all honesty, A&M has nothing to gain by playing the Longhorns. The brand differentiation created by moving to the SEC has given A&M a lot of momentum not only on the national stage, but in recruiting. For the first time in A&M's history, they have something to offer that the Longhorns don't. Having success in the first year, has increased that momentum ten fold. The only way for Texas to halt that momentum would be to beat the Aggies on the field on a consistent basis.
I still follow the Longhorns as much as I always have, but you can say the same thing for the Red Raiders, Oklahoma Sooners, OK State Cowboys, and now, TCU Horned Frogs. For me, it's all about recruiting. I keep up with common recruits and how the on-field performance off all the aforementioned schools affects the Aggies.
To be honest, I'm not that big on playing in the Cotton Bowl period. The Aggies still have an outside shot at a BCS bowl berth but even if that didn't happen, I'd like to play in something new. Not to say a Cotton Bowl against the Longhorns wouldn't be exciting and create huge publicity. I would just prefer to play in the Capital One or even the Chick-Fil-A Bowl over the Cotton.
In my opinion, it's only a matter of time until this rivalry resumes on Thanksgiving. As for how soon, that's completely up to your Longhorns. I don't think it'll happen while Deloss Dodds is still the AD at Texas. In the meantime, Aggies are hoping to get LSU on that weekend every year. That is, and will continue to be, a much bigger game than Texas vs. TCU or whomever they rotate in.
It's a great time to be an Aggie. The battle for the premier program in this state is under way!
Before the season began, I was with most Longhorn fans in simply saying "good riddance" to the departing Aggies. But then the great excitement of the 2011 Thanksgiving game was juxtaposed with a perpetually home game revolving door featuring Texas Tech and TCU and reality started to sink in.
The reality is that while A&M's anti-Texas identity and "little brother" pestering was indeed obnoxious, it was also pretty satisfying that another major university lived to measure themselves up to us and always came up short. I agree that there is simply no way that TCU or Tech can offer the same intimate, familiar, and hate-filled competition that A&M provided.
If Texas A&M manages to land an annual primetime Thanksgiving date with LSU, that'll be another blow to the Longhorn brand as we'll struggle to offer Texas television sets a comparably compelling game unless A&M stumbles back into mediocrity in the future, which appears unlikely.
Texas A&M obviously made a good move in going to the SEC where they can be Texas' sole representative in the nation's biggest football conference, but I'm curious to see how well they shed the cultish, anti-texas identity that held them back from maximizing the opportunities of being the no. 2 program in the nation's most talent-rich state.
In the long-term, Texas still has every advantage in terms of resources, location, money, and tradition to maintain their status as the top dog. However the race is indeed tightening.
It's ironic that this rivalry was so intense and real that it has led to the estrangement of the two most prominent programs in the nation's most important football state. In the battle between the two schools I think fans are the loser, as we would always prefer to see these things settled head to head on the field.
Which leads us to the possibility of a Cotton Bowl matchup to conclude this season. Personally I'm terrified of what else Texas stands to lose this season if it's concluded with a defeat at the hands of the Aggies. There's no telling when we would play again and A&M would be declared the winner in the conference realignment game. I'm sure Aggy fans would also be somewhat apprehensive about spoiling the tremendous success they've tasted this year with a bitter dose of Longhorn victory.
Which is the essence of a good rivalry, when it produces a game in which neither team could stomach defeat. I hope it happens.
So when does this annual rivalry kick off again? To me, one reason the Longhorn brand has become so valuable is due to the fact that Texas had two true/hated rivalries. Where most programs have one marquee rivalry to captivate a national audience every year, the Longhorns had the Aggies and the Sooners. With the series on hiatus, they playing field has been leveled in my opinion.
I'm glad you brought up the little brother comment especially this:
"but I'm curious to see how well they shed the cultish, anti-texas identity that held them back from maximizing the opportunities of being the no. 2 program in the nation's most talent-rich state."
Let me say that the "anti-texas identity" is exactly why I hope we don't play the Longhorns for at least a decade. Unfortunately, I agree that it is all that matters to a large number of Aggies, even now. A significant amount of time apart is the only cure for that disease.
It's only a longhorn response if it has the words "aggy" and "cultish" in it. You should focus more on that "no. 2 program" part. That's where your horns are headed.
I'm not sure how much of Texas' brand success is due to playing A&M every year but I'll gladly concede that losing the Lone Star Showdown on Thanksgiving day is a far bigger loss than our prideful Athletic Director seems willing to admit.
I guess it makes sense for more cautious Aggies to be apprehensive about re-engaging in competition with the Longhorns before their new identity is firmly established and they can face the Longhorns on more equal footing.
But how lame would it be if Johnny Football completed his eligibility at Texas A&M and never played Texas? Are Aggies prepared to face that reality? How about Longhorn fans and Jonathan Gray? There are new generations of heroes on both sides who's careers would be made more enjoyable with some compelling rivalry game performances.
I guess we'll have to see who appears in the Cotton Bowl, or if you're right about the rise of A&M, there's always the playoffs starting in 2014....