The question has been in the air since University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds announced his intention to retire: would that open the door to getting UT and Texas A&M back on the football field again?
“We hope to play them again in a BCS or playoff game at some point,” A&M senior associate athletic director Jason Cook told Zwerneman, who made the call in response to a tweet by the Austin American-Statesman‘s Kirk Bohls
But I’m also told by a higher-up Longhorn that the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry “perhaps” could resume. #statesman
— kbohls (@kbohls) November 6, 2013
During the original A&M-to-SEC soap opera, Dodds and UT had taken something of a wink-wink, passive-aggressive position, stating that the football team’s non-conference schedule was full up until at least 2018.
By contrast, as Zwerneman noted, Aggie president R. Bowen Loftin had tweeted that his school would play the Longhorns anytime, anywhere.
But that was in 2011—pre-SEC and pre-Johnny Manziel. For all intents and purposes, Loftin amended that position this past May. “[Texas] is not relevant to us anymore, that’s the whole point,” he’d said at the spring SEC meetings. ” It’s not an important issue.”
“It’s pretty clear the Aggies have no intention of scheduling any future regular-season games with Texas,” wrote Brett McMurphy of ESPN.
As TelcoAg of SBNation’s Good Bull Hunting wrote, Cook’s statement, “a single quote with no context,” remains open to interpretation.
This quote can be read a few different ways. Either Texas A&M doesn’t want to schedule Texas in-season, but a bowl would be nice; or, a Bowl game would be cool, and go ahead and read a ton into this quote, because that can’t possibly backfire.
On Twitter, Zwerneman was more definitive. “A&M’s current administration/board will not consider scheduling Texas in the regular season,” he wrote.
(Of course, if you want to over-read those tea leaves, the “current administration” is only around for two more months, as Loftin is retiring on January 13, 2014. But that still leaves the board and the athletics brass).
Really, nothing’s changed, because it was always going to take more than a couple of seasons for the two schools to get back together. I’m sticking with the point I made in this otherwise mostly fictional April Fool’s post: for all the agita about the Longhorn Network, ESPN basically runs college football, including the bowls, the future College Football Playoff, the Big 12 and the SEC (ESPN is also behind the SEC Network). At some point, if the network wants a UT-A&M game, be it for September or Thanksgiving, that game will happen.
But it’s also possible the network doesn’t want that, and are perfectly content with Cook’s scenario. The two teams still could make it to the (non-ESPN) Cotton Bowl this year. That would be a carnival of hype, especially with the futures of Mack Brown (still under fire) and Kevin Sumlin (still everybody’s favorite USC rumor) as a topic of discussion. Also, starting in 2014, the Big 12 and SEC will send its top non-playoff teams to face each other in the Sugar Bowl.
And if the two teams only ever met in the College Football Playoff? That would really bring the crazy.
That’s also probably the best thing for both schools. Not playing each other every year increases the chance that both teams will be in the CFP (assuming both schools start to make it to November without losing twice). That trumps tradition, which is unfortunate, but everything about the BCS & College Football Playoff trumps tradition (i.e., some of us would still be happy to keep arguing about the polls).
When Good Bull Hunting did a point/counterpoint on this topic last month, its readership was pretty much split 50/50. But people who say the rivalry shouldn’t be revived are, if anything, more passionate in their hated of the other school than those who say it should be. Trumpeting the fact that A&M no longer needs UT, or blaming the rivalry’s end on A&M for leaving the Big 12, just keeps the fires stoked. When it comes to the University of Texas and Texas A&M, you don’t actually need the game to have the rivalry.