Did Texas A&M Scoff at Texas Bowl Invite?
HOUSTON, TX--(Opinion) Growing up and playing high school football in Texas, it was every kid's dream to wear either burnt orange or maroon on the field of the Lone Star Showdown.
As I watched the bowl game announcements roll in, early during the ordeal I saw that the newly branded Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl would feature one of the most iconic programs, the University of Texas Longhorns. So I bought tickets for the game in my home city of Houston, praying Texas A&M wouldn't back away from the game as they did in 2014.
As the day got later, much to the chagrin of me and many Texans, the announcement came across that the 7-5 Aggies accepted an invite to the lackluster Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, against a less impressive Wake Forest team.
They took a bowl game 1,073 miles away rather than just 98 miles down Texas Highway 6 and Loop 610.
Texas beat the Aggies in 2011 when current Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker split the uprights on a 40-yard field goal as time expired, lifting Texas to a 27-25 victory and saying goodbye to A&M, as the UT fight song says.
Then, in 2012, Texas A&M hightailed it to the Southeastern Conference with Missouri, the 2017 Texas Bowl opponent for the Longhorns, and the teams haven't met on the gridiron since.
So was it the Aggies hanging on to the grudge from that late November loss in 2011 that led to another dream matchup down the drain?
No. Although the Aggies are still miffed about that.
Then why won't the two schools renew a rivalry that divided families so beautifully on Thanksgiving?
Well, there are a throng of possible answers to that question with an Aggie grudge being one of them.
According to an ESPN report, UT's then-Athletic Director DeLoss Dodd had reached out to Texas A&M's AD Bill Byrne about the idea of the Longhorn Network and the Aggies joining it. The Longhorns were worried they would not be able to carry the station on their own and the Aggie-Longhorn Network was seen as a way to make it work. But Byrne declined. A year after those discussions, Byrne wanted to re-open the discussions about the joint platform. By this time Dodd and Texas felt they were ok on their own and turned Byrne away, leaving a massive rift between the schools.
That's just one of the possible reasons.
Another reason could be deemed as fear from Austin. Brian Davis, a reporter for the Austin American Statesman covering the Longhorns, said in a tweet on Nov. 20 that officials at UT "will frown on playing A&M" in a bowl game.
Why would that be frowned on? Well, both schools have a reasonable argument to want to play the rivalry on their terms and not in the postseason. There's more money in a home-and-home rivalry series than a one off bowl game at a neutral site.
However, here's where the lone leg that argument stands on collapses: It's the Texas Bowl. T E X A S. The University of Texas against Texas A&M University.
There's also a gripe from the A&M side that playing Texas could hurt their so-called dominant recruiting of the state. However, according to the composite recruiting rankings on 247 Sports, Texas is second on the list behind Ohio State, which is definitely not Texas A&M. The Aggies come in at 12th on the list.
Want to know how to boost your recruiting? Beat Texas in the recruiting hotbed of Houston at the Texas Bowl. Texas Head Coach Tom Herman knows the importance of the location of the game. "[Winning] would be huge," Herman said about the possibility of winning with undecided recruits in Houston watching the game.
Now, the Aggies don't have fond memories of NRG Stadium as they lost to Kansas State 33-28 last year.
Honestly, these two need to just put everything aside and bring back the rivalry. It is in the best interest for both teams. Win the game, you win the state. You win the state, you win the recruiting battle. So the ball is in your court, Austin and College Station.