This Thanksgiving one of college football’s oldest and most storied rivalries will be put on indefinite hold when Texas and Texas A&M meet for the last time as Big 12 foes.
The Aggies wanted to continue the series when they left for the Southeastern Conference in July, but the Longhorns told the Aggies that their non-conference schedule is full through 2018.
Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin, who led the charge for the Aggies to move to the SEC, has been vocal about his desire to continue playing Texas throughout the conference realignment process.
“We’re able to accommodate them anytime they want to make that happen,” he said of the rivalry. “It’s their choice, obviously, if they don’t want to do that, and I have to respect that choice, but it will be a loss to both of us and the state of Texas.”
Loftin pointed out that most states have key instate rivalry games that take place each season despite conference boundaries.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds emailed Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne late last week to tell him the Longhorns couldn’t fit A&M into their schedule through 2018.
“What we have right now is a full schedule, but if any future options are available, the decision will not be made by just one person,” Dodds said in a statement.
Loftin hopes they can renew the rivalry when Texas has room on its schedule.
“It’s open at any time,” Loftin said. “There’s no doubt in our minds to accommodate this kind of game at any time now or in the future.”
My sense, as someone who is neither a Longhorn nor and Aggie and who doesn’t really care one way or the other about this is that A&M is more interested in continuing this rivalry than UT is. From A&M’s perspective, their income will increase in the SEC, but so will their travel costs. Being able to play a few non-conference games in any sport in Texas will ease that a bit. I’ve mentioned before that if UT wanted to be a bit vindictive towards the Aggies, they’d refuse to play them at all, and would encourage other Texas schools to do the same. (Kim Mulkey, for one, does not need to be convinced of this.) The Horns can always offer games against themselves, with perhaps some exposure on the Longhorn Network (to the six homes that receive it, anyway) as incentive. I’m just spinning a scenario here, so don’t take any of this too seriously, but I will be interested to see what A&M’s nonconference schedule in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and volleyball look like next year and in 2013.