Texas A&M vs. Texas: The Non-Existent Thanksgiving Tradition
COLLEGE STATION - Thanksgiving is a holiday known for traditions. Families return from lengthy trips to sit around a table and celebrate another year. Friends meet after extended periods and give thanks for the life they now live.
In Texas, football has always been a part of the Thanksgiving plan. The Dallas Cowboys can be seen on a television screen every year, playing an opponent at AT&T Stadium. It's been a landmark game since 1978 in the Lone Star State.
And it wasn't always the only game fans could flock around the television to in Texas. In fact, in College Station or Austin, kickoff would commence as the whistles came to a halt up in Arlington.
Texas A&M and Texas have been known in the past for their off-field feud of bringing back tradition. The Lone Star Rivalry was a custom tradition as the conclusion of Thanksgiving in the college football world. For over a century, the two schools would meet on the gridiron and battle it out for bragging rights in the nation's largest state.
Now, it's nothing more than a memory that can found on a channel such as ESPN Classics.
During the rivalry, 118 games were played. The Longhorns lead the series, 76-37-5 all-time. In the final matchup during the 2011 season, Texas took advantage of the struggling Aggies, winning 27-25 at Kyle Field.
Of the 118 matchups, 61 games fell on the Thursday of Thanksgiving. It became so much of a tradition that fans would tailgate their meal before heading into the stadium, clad in either burnt orange or maroon. Nine times the rivalry was played at a neutral location, leading the other 109 matchups to give a home-field advantage.
Since the Aggies transfered to the Southeastern Conference, the rivalry has been put on hiatus. Both schools have discussed meeting again under the big bright stars, but progress has been slow.
"I'd love to see the rivalry renewed," Texas coach Tom Herman said at Big 12 Media Days this offseason. "I think it's great for college football. It's great for Texas.”
The game has mattered to so many that in 2013, a Texas state legislator filed a bill that would require the two schools to meet every season. Perhaps the craziest part? The bill was actually referred by the House Committee of High Education.
It ultimately was denied and football in Texas hasn't been the same.
The reality is both schools will need to agree to a deal, but what has stopped the programs from meeting? The SEC is known for allowing teams to play their in-state rival to close out the season, no matter the conference. Florida will face Florida State, Clemson will likely dismantle South Carolina and Georgia will take on the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.
Rivalries in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama are by schools in the same state, rich with the history of the season’s final week. The Iron Bowl is considered College Football's most celebrated war, while the Volunteers will likely continue their success against the Commodores. The Egg Bowl is another Thanksgiving tradition, found by the two schools in the Magnolia State.
But Texas and Texas A&M will no longer be at the helm of Thanksgiving rivalries — or rivalries in general. Games such as there are where records are thrown out the window. Instead, it's about bragging rights for a full year and potential redemption of years past.
Texas, as a state, will no longer have that option. Instead, the Aggies will face LSU while Texas takes on the Red Raiders. Gone are the days when fans wake up to the smell of turkey and the date with destiny at Kyle Field or DKR.
"Us not playing A&M is not good for college football," Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said earlier this year. "We need to play each other... it should happen, but for some odd reason that's above Ross' (Bjork) and my pay grade."
For now, the ultimate hope is these two will meet in Houston one day for the Texas Bowl, bringing some fans the joy of beating their in-state opponent once more.