As Texas A&M prepares for its "official" move out of the Big 12 and into the thriving SEC later this summer, Aggies everywhere are beginning to wonder what exactly the future holds. The loss of the infamous rivalry with Texas has been heartbreaking to both sides, yet neither is willing to concede anything in a "divorce" that will dominate the landscape of the state for years to come.
The bottom-line is this: The Longhorns wouldn't be the 'Horns without the Aggies, and the Aggies wouldn't be the Ags without the Longhorns. Texas and A&M have shaped each other into the universities that they are today.
Without A&M, Texas would be absent of their signature Hook 'em hand gesture that was created to counteract the Aggies' TCU-inspired Gig 'em. The 'Horns wouldn't have Hex Rally or even the name "Bevo" for their Longhorn mascot if not due to the antics of the Ags.
Without Texas, A&M would be void of one of their most famous and hallowed traditions in Bonfire. The Aggie War Hymn would be missing possibly its most memorable lines in "Goodbye to Texas University" and "So long to the orange and the white." Where would the Ags be today without the basis for many of their most storied traditions?
The two universities have molded their identities to a point where it's difficult to imagine the 117 year rivalry falling apart. However, as college football enters the 2012 season, there will be no Thanksgiving Weekend matchup between the Aggies and the Longhorns for the first time since 1914.
Unlike the passion that has engulfed the Lone Star Showdown for decades, the ending of the rivalry was more like a business deal than anything. The Aggies said "we have the SEC now," and Texas spat back "well we have Oklahoma." With a small likelihood that the traditional game will be set back up anytime in the next few years, Texas A&M needs to consider moving on.
As A&M and Big 12 moving buddy Missouri settle down in the SEC, the conference has already begun to adjust around and to them. The "locked" cross-divisional rivals have plans to be switched up as the shared border between Arkansas and Mizzou have each university vying to play each other.
Considering that Arkansas has been South Carolina's partner and A&M was coming in as Missouri's, the changeup will force the Gamecocks and Aggies to match up as cross-divisional rivals. However, it is not this news that truly matters because the USC is just another SEC squad.
While Arkansas seemingly abandons LSU as their main conference rival for the much closer Missouri, the Bayou Bengals have begun to look elsewhere for a program to end each season with. Fortunately for Texas A&M, Louisiana State decided to look west.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva recently proclaimed that he expects longtime rival Texas A&M to emerge as the Tigers' season finale. For the Aggies, this is great news.
Put simply, Texas has been A&M's high-maintenance girlfriend for the past 117 years, always busting his balls and controlling his life. When the Aggie finally got the cajones to try a new dance hall, the Longhorns dumped him in a fit of rage, ending their longtime relationship in a snap and without a second thought.
The Aggie had, at least, found a new place to spend his time away from his psychotic ex-girlfriend. However, the new dance hall's only available girl was Missouri, as she had followed him from his former hang out location. They didn't really have any kind of true connection, making their pairing somewhat awkward.
In a sudden turn of events, however, LSU and Arkansas broke it off due to the Razorback eying Missouri; the two considered a relationship much more viable because of the close proximity of their living arrangements. Texas A&M, following Missouri's move to Arkansas, now had the shot with the girl of his dreams as his Bayou neighbor had just become available. The first Tiger was a rebound; the second one is the real deal.
LSU is, and will continue to be, one of the most recognizable universities in the nation. Their bold color scheme, outspoken coach and reputation for "hospitality" is renowned across the college football world.
Texas A&M would be wise to not only accept this "offer," but also to push for it to become a reality as soon as possible. LSU and the Aggies have a storied tradition on the field. Of all A&M's incoming SEC opponents, Louisiana State is the member who has played the Aggies the most without ever being in the same conference with them (*cough* Arkansas *cough*).
Furthermore, LSU is the closest SEC university to Texas A&M with Baton Rouge sitting only 360 miles to the east of College Station. In time, the Tigers and the Aggies could become a full-blown rivalry equal to or greater than the one Texas had staked a claim in for over a century.
While Texas A&M should always keep the back door open in case the Longhorns come knocking, LSU is a big step in the right direction rivalry-wise. Taking the Aggies' most legitimate SEC competitor and turning them into the Aggies' Thanksgiving Day matchup would be a brilliant move by both parties.
Keep an eye out for Texas A&M to emerge as LSU's main conference rival sometime around 2014.
Side Note: Just out of curiosity, does anyone have any cool ideas for what we could call this Thanksgiving Day Rivalry? I would suggest "The Border War" but it's already taken (Kansas and Missouri). Post in the comments section...I'd love any thoughts on the matter.