This story is part of Bum Steers of the Year, 2024. Read about our Bum Steer of the Year Dan Patrick and runners-up Elon Musk and Ken Paxton. Also, check out our Best Things in Texas list for this year’s uplifting moments.

Texas A&M University has gotten a lot of attention this past year, and not the kind most institutions would want. First, it hired away Kathleen McElroy, an esteemed Black journalist and A&M alumna, from the University of Texas at Austin and then basically unhired her at the behest of some conservative donors, prompting the university’s president to resign and leading to a $1 million settlement. Then it suspended a pharmacy professor for allegedly criticizing Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick—a violation of academic freedom that was denounced nationally. On top of all that, A&M fired head coach Jimbo Fisher in November—two years after he received a $95 million contract. It’s all enough to try the patience of even the most loyal Aggies. In light of these self-inflicted misfortunes, we decided to sit down and take the temperature of the most loyal Aggie there is—Ol’ Sarge, the school’s unofficial mascot since soon after his first appearance in a campus magazine cartoon in 1938.

Texas Monthly: Hello, Ol’ Sarge. Thanks for chatting with us. What are your thoughts on the controversy at the journalism school? 

Ol’ Sarge: Beats the hell outta Ol’ Sarge. Talk about your hullabaloos! Caneck! Caneck! Whoop! 

TM: And that pharmacy professor who was temporarily suspended? 

OS: Hoo boy. Can Ol’ Sarge get a whoop!?

TM: Surely an old gridiron fan like you has something to say about the football team’s troubles? 

OS: It’s some bad bull, indeed, as we say here in Aggieland. Whoop! Farmers fight!

TM: You know, Ol’ Sarge, it feels like you’re not really engaging with my questions. Don’t you have anything substantial to say about any of this? 

OS: Whoop! Caneck! Caneck! Hullaba—aw, heck, yer right. The truth is, Ol’ Sarge is distraught about what’s been going on here in College Station, and it’s not always easy for him to be honest about his feelings. He wasn’t raised by the most emotionally available people, you know?

TM: Consider this interview a safe space where you can speak your truth.

OS: The fact is, Ol’ Sarge has been so dismayed by the doings here in Aggieland that he’s been thinking of looking for work at a different school.

TM: Whoa! A&M-Commerce? A&M-Kingsville? West Texas A&M?

OS: UT-Austin.

TM: Wait, what? Ol’ Sarge, you’ve spent nearly a century mocking the Longhorns! You can’t just pick up and switch sides.

OS: You don’t think it would go over too well?

TM: No.

OS: Well, do you know of any school that has an opening in its comp lit department? Ol’ Sarge wouldn’t mind trying his hand at exposing impressionable undergrads to the novels of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Nathalie Sarraute.

TM: Wait, Ol’ Sarge is a scholar of Nouveau Roman literature?

OS: Just because I’m a career soldier you think I can’t appreciate the stylings of mid-twentieth-century European avant-garde fiction? Maybe you should check your privilege, young man!

TM: At ease, Ol’ Sarge. You’re getting pretty worked up.

OS: My apologies. It’s just brutal witnessing the deterioration of the institution I’ve devoted my entire life to. Also, Ol’ Sarge forgot to stop by the CBD store yesterday. Can’t get through the week without his gummies, you know?

TM: Things are tough all over. So how about one last A&M-style yell to end this interview on a positive note?

OS: One last yell? Yeah sure, why not? Here’s your one last yell: Whoop-dee-fuc—

TM: Thanks, Ol’ Sarge! 

This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Bum Steers of the Year.” Subscribe today.