A&M’s football program raises the bar

Patrick St. Pierre

On Saturday, hours after our Longhorns, led by David Ash’s passing and a number of offensive plays honoring the late Darrell K Royal, posted a statement win over the Cyclones of Iowa State, the Aggie War Hymn blasted over the PA system in buildings throughout the Texas A&M campus.  I was standing in the A&M recreational sports complex, cringing at the music and what it marked: A&M’s upset win over then-top-ranked Alabama.

Yes, though it pains me to do so, I’m writing about A&M football. 

It’s been almost a year now since Case McCoy led our offense down Kyle Field in the last minutes of the fourth quarter to a 40-yard game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker.  For Texas, it was a perfect ending to the 118-year rivalry.  And if we never play A&M again, we’ll have the image of Tucker being hoisted onto his teammates’ shoulders to remember fondly.

Since then, there has been plenty of taunting on the part of the student bodies of both UT and A&M that escalated into Aggie fans vandalizing signs on the 40 Acres and Texas fans defacing an A&M billboard.  Graffiti on our campus recently stirred the pot with statements like, “MISS US YET?” and “SEC!”  As a diehard UT football fan, I try to stand firm behind our team in any provocation between the two football programs.  But it’s becoming difficult to do so.

That win a year ago was meant to be the last whipping we issued the Aggies before they became the newest punching bag in the vaunted SEC football society.  After all, their football program’s resume aligned them with the Kentuckys and Vanderbilts of the SEC, perennial bottom feeders.  But judging by the war hymn that blasted in my ears, it’s a message no one told to Johnny Football.

Johnny Manziel, a redshirt freshman known to the Aggie faithful as Johnny Football, is doing his part and then some to stake a spot for his team among the SEC elite.  His dazzling display of athleticism and mature game intuition confounded even the stout Alabama defense.  And as any SEC coach or player will tell you, rolling over the Crimson Tide takes work.

What exactly does this mean for the third-longest rivalry in the history of college football, which is now one year extinct?

Well, for starters, we should take pride in the history of the Lone Star Showdown.  It is, after all, history now.  And at 76-37-5 in favor of our Longhorns, it’s one of the most one-sided major rivalries.  Plus, we will forever enjoy the decisive 2011 win that ended the tradition.  But, sobering though it is, we shouldn’t participate in any jawing about taking on today’s A&M squad.

Although we share the same 8-2 record, their two losses were by a combined eight points to our forty-five.  They’ve played five nationally-ranked programs to our three.  And they have Johnny Football (soon to be trademarked).

It’s a hard truth to accept, but A&M’s is the eminent football program in the state of Texas.  Rather than mouthing off with “lemme-at-‘em” talk, let’s shore up our focus and celebrate our own program’s accomplishments as we try to reclaim the throne as Texas’ top football team.

St. Pierre is an English junior from Austin.