The Texas Longhorns and the Texas A&M Aggies are back in the news and it's for all the wrong reasons. After a one year separation, the potential for a permanent divorce was looking good. The Texas-Texas A&M marriage, one of college football's oldest, would end.
Why, it would take an act of congress to save this rivalry series.
And that's kind of what is happening right now.
State Rep. (TX) Ryan Guillen has filed House Bill 778 which would require the two schools to play each other every year—refusal by one school to participate in the game would result in loss of athletic scholarships.
The Texas Tribune's Reeve Hamilton notes Guillen's reasoning for introducing the bill.
"This game is as much a Texas tradition as cowboy boots and barbeque [sic]," Guillen, an A&M graduate, said. "The purpose of the bill is to put the eyes of Texas upon our two greatest universities to restore this sacred Texas tradition."
"I think the people of Texas want a game, and we're trying to get them one," Guillen said.
Nothing spells t-r-a-d-i-t-i-o-n better than the government forcing two teams to play each other under threat of losing precious scholarships.
Why, it's like an arranged marriage. And Guillen is the matchmaker. Hooray for tradition.
Play or suffer the consequences is a great way to enhance school relationships. Can't you just feel the love brewing?
The NCAA has always had the power to strip athletic scholarships from programs and how is that working out on the love meter?
Punishing a school with athletic scholarship reductions is really punishing student-athletes who want to play at a school. What's going to happen if Texas decides not to play Texas A&M and the program loses a couple of scholarships while it's maxed out on 85 scholarship athletes?
The student-athlete loses out, and Guillen is okay with that?
What this really spells out is grown-ups (once again) putting their own self-serving interests ahead of the student-athletes' interests. They're throwing a tantrum because a rivalry that they care deeply about is getting dumped and they just can't handle the fact that their Thanksgiving may have to include some actual dinner conversation.
Guillen ostensibly wants this rivalry to continue because A&M still considers Texas its main rival. Meanwhile, Texas usually looks to Oklahoma as its biggest rival—the Red River Rivalry series usually has national significance.
With Heisman winner Johnny Manziel under center, Texas A&M may have an advantage over Texas in the next few years. However, the Aggies aren't going to be catching up to the Longhorns anytime soon; Texas leads the all-timeseries 76–37–5.
But here's the thing; even if Texas A&M were to beat up Texas over the next couple of years, it's meaningless if A&M doesn't win the SEC South. It's still a non-conference game.
Do you want the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry game to continue?
Sorry Aunt Tilly, Texas A&M class of '40, but nobody in SEC country is going to care if your Aggies beat the Longhorns.
They will, however, care if Texas A&M beats LSU or Alabama. And therein lies the problem with Guillen—he's hanging on to the past and not looking forward.
Texas A&M left the Big 12 to break free of what it perceived to be Texas' bondage. Fine, it's done, you got your way, Aggies. But why ask for a state-enforced rivalry game with a school that induced you to leave the Big 12 in the first place? It's akin to supporting PETA by showing up at a protest march while wearing a mink coat.
As long as Texas A&M doesn't completely cut ties with Texas, it will never lose that "little brother" status. And as long as Texas A&M "needs" Texas to validate its importance in college football, Texas will always be its big brother.
So go ahead, A&M, cut the cord.
Yes, college football will be missing a great rivalry game, but we'll get over it.
Keep beating Alabama and that could be your new rivalry game.