College Station is a really interesting place. For an area with just under 200,000 permanent residents and the sixth largest university in the United State, it still is a place with small town ideals. It’s seems to continue to grow at a rapid place, while locals reminisce about when town ended where Rock Prairie Road now stands or how, if you bought a Blizzard at Dairy Queen, it came with two free tickets to that week’s Aggie game. And yet, College Station still wants to be known as a glitzy, metropolitan place. Every visit, I’m startled by the growth of the city and how the cultural landscape has changed (The Republic and Veritas, you both have a lot to do with that). In a round about way, this duality is mirrored by Texas A&M’s relationship with the University of Texas.
At the beginning of the 4th quarter of Aggie home game, the Aggie War Hymn is played, with the students swaying along and signing lyrics directly aimed at their rivals in Austin. This is one a many, many traditions Aggies everywhere know by heart. This song, along with others and several cheers, occur at every game and every yell practice regardless of the opponent. And yet, the rivalry doesn’t define Aggie Athletics according to every Aggie ever. My Aggie friends will dismiss any talk of the rivalry pre-Jackie Sherrill as “ancient history” and explain how Reggie McNeal may still be better than Vince Young and how “the Hit” redefined pain on a football field. Then in the next breath, they will tell stories about the 1939 national championship season, sing the praises of John David Crow and remind you that they had Bear Bryant before Alabama did. A&M has seemed to always want their cake and to eat it too, as the expression goes. They focused so much attention on the longhorns, constantly denying that there was any inferiority complex but would be quick to point out victory over the burnt orange, no matter what the sport. (On more than one occasion, an Aggie relative has made it a point to regale me with the triumphs of the Aggie equestrian or archery teams while dismissing a UT football victory. Archery and equestrian sports are awesome, but not exactly on my Tivo).
Now a new chapter of Aggie athletics is beginning. I’m not referring to the new starting quarterback, or the new starting running back, the new head coach (the fourth coach this century) or even the new spread offense he brings with him. I’m talking about their conference, the South Eastern Conference. The SEC has won the last six national championships…not exactly welcoming to a team that’s rebuilding. The Aggies should have played a warmup game last week against Louisiana Tech, but Hurricane Isaac postponed that game until October. So, this Saturday, A&M is hosting the Florida Gators in their season, home and SEC opener. The Gators are led by former UT defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. This is his second season at the helm as he tries to bring Florida back to the elite (two of those six straight SEC national championships). It’s probably going to come down to Florida and Georgia for a spot in the SEC championship game, so they need to get off to a good start. For A&M, this is their first SEC game, a conference they plan on being in for a loooooooong time. ESPN’s College Gameday is going to be there and you only get one chance to win your first game. I know I’ll be glued to the tv on Saturday.
Other Games I’ll Be Watching:
Miami at Kansas State – K State is a dark horse Big XII contender and Miami is trying to regain their swagger, should be fun
Nebraska at UCLA – Another early non conference game featuring “name” programs
Georgia at Missouri – The other SEC East favorite visiting the other SEC newcomer
* All of the above opinions are from Dustin and do not necessarily reflect the views of Gameday Cloth