Friday, November 25, 2011

UT/A&M Game

Well, Thanksgiving was good.  I went to Mom and Dad's house for Turkey Day dinner (which was very nice- thanks Mom and Dad!).
After dinner I went to College Station to attend the UT/A&M game with Reed and his brother-in-law, Brian.
It was an ugly game, but a surprisingly good one in terms being an entertaining contest.  Neither team played particularly well, but they both fought pretty hard.  UT's offense, once again, had some significant problems, and A&M made some tough mistakes (especially in the second half) that UT was really able to capitalize on.  It was a fun game.  I know that it's easier to say that as a UT fan when the Horns walked away with a last second victory at Kyle Field, but it was a powerful experience, I think, no matter how you look at it.  The fans at Kyle Field were extremely energetic and loud, and given the uncertainty about if and when this matchup will happen again (because of the A&M move to the SEC), there was a sense of something special happening before the game even started.
And I swear that even if Tucker had choked that last second field goal, I would have been very happy with that game because it just symbolized so many of the things that we've come to expect in a Texas-Texas A&M matchup:

Both teams have had sort of disappointing seasons, and both hoped to sort of relieve some of the pressure with their fan base by winning this crucial game.

The game was sort of ugly, and there were serious mistakes made by both sides, probably as a result of both nerves and the roar of the Aggie crowd during the game (A&M had turnover issues, but UT had a number of false starts, late hits, horse collars, and other damaging penalties).

The fans were way into the game.  The jumbotron at Kyle Field reported that there were something like 88,000 people in attendance (I think it was their second highest attendance ever), and they were extremely enthusiastic.  The student section cheers constantly- even through timeouts.  Whenever UT had the ball, especially in the second half, the crowd was deafening.

The rivalry was fierce, but there was a certain undercurrent of affection and poignancy, I think, as well.  The UT band spelled out a thank you message to A&M on the field during halftime, and the A&M band created the image of a longhorn- before promptly cutting the horns off of it.  The A&M fans who sat around us were friendly with us, and after the game one of them even came up to Brian and I urge us to encourage all of our UT friends to try to help keep the rivalry alive.

Thanks A&M!

The Aggie band tries- really tries- to be nice to the Horns in return

And it's just sort of impossible to imagine this rivalry coming to an end.  UT has other rivalries, for sure, but the UT/A&M game is definitely family affair.  Half of my high school went to A&M and half went to UT.  Many, many families in Texas (including Reed's) have one kid who went to one school and another kid who went to the other.  Lots of Longhorns are married to Aggies.  UT teases A&M a lot, and it seems like almost every yell, chant, or song that A&M uses contains some sort of shot at UT in it, but when the bonfire tragedy happened in 1999, UT students were one of the first groups outside of College Station to set up prayer vigils and look for ways to help out.  UT has other big rivalries, but I'm not sure I know three people who went to OU.

Anyway, I just think it would be a terrible shame if the fans got lost in the mix as big business college football (mostly meaning a bunch of politicians and bazillionaires) kill the rivalry with squabbles over television rights, conference memberships, ego, and money, money, money.  Yeah, I know you can't get away from the money issue, and I know it's probably naive to think that these people can rise above their own pettiness, but the flip side of the equation is this:  if the government were to outlaw college football and athletic scholarships tomorrow, if they made it so that college football couldn't be on TV, if they halted ticket sales, ended merchandising rights, and dismantled all of the athletic conferences... if all of these things happened tomorrow I still think that a couple of interested athletes from UT and a bunch of interested jocks from A&M would probably pick up a couple of footballs and go find themselves an empty field to play in so they could prove to one another who was best.  And I think the first set of interested fans would show up about ten minutes after that.
Maybe a dysfunctional family, but still a family


Jean said...

The game may not have been pretty, but I could watch the footage of Case McCoy's game saving run and his reaction, kneeling no less, to Justin Tucker's field goal all day long. Swwwweeeeeeet!

J.S. said...

I agree! It put me in a good mood for days! ;-)

Anonymous said...

On the flip side, I have been in a bad mood for a week and it pretty much ruined my Thanksgiving weekend. :-)

This game will more than likely cost Sherman and his entire coaching staff their job.

After starting the season at #7 and returning 18 starters from last year's 9-3 team, you can't go 6-6 (blowing double digit halftime leads in 5 of them) and then top it off by losing to your arch rival in the last game of the series in a down year for them (other than the defensive front 7).

The loss was especially painful because it was a microcosm of the whole season. Get out to an early lead, turn the ball over, and give up big plays.

I really like Sherman, he's been a class act, and has strengthen recruiting, but all that matters is wins. The A&M fan base was already disgusted with the season after last year's season and the loss to Texas has changed that disgust to anger.

Heads will roll...


J.S. said...

Yeah, I'm not all that surprised that Sherman got the axe, either. Not sure it's a smart move, though, as A&M moves into the SEC. Even if people were frustrated with Sherman it might have been good to have some stability during that transition period.
It sounds like A&M's greatest problems have been mental (it seems like they've been suffering from some second half choking issues this year). I guess that a coach might bear part of the blame for those sorts of problems, but really, there's an issue of player confidence and team leadership there, and those things have to sort of organically rise up from within a team.
At any rate, I still think Sherman is a good coach, and hopefully he'll go somewhere else and do fine. And, of course, only time will tell whether the Ags made the right decision in letting him go.
But even if the Ags go on to do well under a new coach, I don't think that's going to convince me that the problems they've been suffering recently squarely lay on Sherman's shoulders.

J.S. said...

I agree with what Sherman said at the press conference. He didn't deserve to be fired. We live in a society where people would rather change things than fix them, and far too much weight is given to the whining and crying that occurs on Twitter, Facebook, and other internet sites.
Even if another coach comes in and does better next season, it's going to be important to remember that they were building on Sherman's foundation. They should have given the man at least one more year.