Thanksgiving not same without Texas facing Texas A&M

Chris Hummer

Texas fans, remember the Hex Rally?

UT students and the Longhorns players would light candles to place a curse on the Aggies before every Thanksgiving game. A mostly harmless process, it served as an opportunity for a school to unite with a mutual loathing of all things Aggie.

Now, despite Texas A&M’s move to the SEC, the Hex Rally lives on.

Well, at least it was supposed to. This year’s event was canceled due to inclement weather, which for those of you unfamiliar with the term in Austin, means temperatures in high 30s and a slight chance of rain.

If Texas had been playing Texas A&M, there is no chance the rally would have been canceled, which leads to a larger point. Football on Thanksgiving for Texas just isn’t the same without the Aggies, nor should it be played on turkey day.

The players won’t say it, only admitting to missing their maroon-clad rivals.

“We miss playing A&M,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “That’s a great rivalry. But we’ll just have to get used to it.”

Texas did not make that shift well last season against TCU. The Longhorns came out flat, turning the ball over four times, resulting in a 20-13 loss to an offensively challenged Horned Frogs unit. There shouldn’t have been any motivation issues; Texas still had an opportunity for a BCS bowl berth at that point. But the team didn’t radiate any energy and neither did the fans.

Against the Aggies, the atmosphere and player’s motivation never came into question. The electricity at DKR or Kyle Field was palpable. Last year against TCU, it looked like the players would rather be chewing on turkey legs than playing with a pigskin.

Right now, the Longhorns are scheduled to have a home game each season on Thanksgiving, rotating between TCU and Texas Tech as opponents. Both games have historic connotations, with each in-state matchup dating back to the Southwest Conference days of Longhorns football history.

But you won’t find the Red Raiders or TCU in the Longhorns’ fight song. Nor will anyone mistake the mild dislike out of Fort Worth or the unnecessary pride in Lubbock for the deep-seeded history and hate that connects College Station and Austin, despite the on-field crater the conference switch created.

Texas A&M-Texas was special. On Thanksgiving it provided split families across the state an opportunity to trade playful barbs and earn bragging rights for the calendar year.

Thanksgiving itself hasn’t lost any of its football glow. The NFL is a holiday staple an extra serving of mashed potatoes could never replicate.  

But as for college football, notably the Longhorns without the Aggies, the feeling and spectacle isn’t the same. For a long time Texas and Texas A&M played the day after Thanksgiving, so this isn’t a tradition firmly rooted, maybe it’s time to look at a change.