The football rivalry is over (at least for now), but the University of Texas and Texas A&M are still stuck with each other. The two top public universities in Texas are, as Vimal Patel of the Bryan-College Station Eagle pointed out, academic partners everywhere from the legislature to the McDonald Observatory.

“Athletically, no mercy,” Texas A&M’s vice president for government relations Michael O’Quinn told Patel. “Professionally, we’re very collaborative.”

Patel details how the two schools typically meet with both the legislature and the Texas Congressional delegation together and have a number of joint ventures. A new storage library at Texas A&M Riverside will house more than a million volumes from both schools. And A&M astronomy professor Nicholas Suntzeff is also an adjunct at UT, which gives him access to McDonald.

Such existing bonds line up nicely with the theme of an “open letter” that Tim Taliaferro, the editor of the Alcalde, posted online just before the football game last week. Taliaferro looked back on the spirit of cooperation that the two schools had after the 1999 bonfire tragedy and suggested the same thing will be required to help improve the future of higher education in the state.

There are 25 million people in the state of Texas, and there are only 800,000 or so living alumni of UT and A&M. That’s three percent. If our schools are going to continue to be national academic powerhouses, we must do a better job of helping that 97 percent of the population—most members of which have never stepped foot on either of our campuses—understand why a strong UT and a strong A&M should matter to them . . .

The future of our state depends on how well our population gets educated, period. And that is on us.

As for football, the Texas Tribune reported that representative Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) still hopes the Lege can force the schools to play, a position that, as Jason Embry of the Austin American-Statesman noted, is also being taken by Ryan Downton, an Austin lawyer who will be challenging state representative Paul Workman (R-Austin) in the GOP primary.

But if the schools don’t meet in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game, Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reiterated how attractive a Texas–Texas A&M matchup could now be to the Cotton Bowl, which generally pits the second or third available Big 12 team against the third or fourth available SEC team.

“Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker loves the idea of a Longhorns-Aggies game in JerryWorld in January 2013,” Burch writes—though one assumes that such enthusiasm is still contingent upon both teams doing better than their current 7-4 (UT) and 6-6 (A&M) campaigns.