Tradition means everything in college football. Rivalries grow the tradition.
Ohio State against Michigan always gets the blood flowing. The Iron Bowl of Alabama against Auburn has always captivated the country.
Rivalries are fun. It builds up hype for an awesome sport, which in turn builds narratives and ratings.
But some of these rivalries look artificial. College football pumps so many games now as rivalries to help build buzz and mystique, which helps boosts ratings.
LSU has a rival but does not care for it.
On Friday, LSU will play Arkansas for the last time on Thanksgiving weekend for the foreseeable future. And it is a shame that is the case.
The Battle for the Boot has been college football's most competitive and thrilling rivalry in the past decade. It has become a Thanksgiving staple LSU fans have never truly embraced.
Traditionally, the Tigers and Hogs have played on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It has been an SEC tradition for the Iron Bowl and the Battle for the Boot to be played on the same weekend on a non-Saturday.
LSU will now play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving weekend starting next season. The Aggies have historically played Texas on Thanksgiving Day, but the tradition has since changed when the Aggies moved to the SEC.
LSU and Texas A&M have some history. Both have faced each other in some good, but not great games. The two schools often fight over the same recruits. Both have fanbases in Baton Rouge and around College Station.
LSU against Texas A&M is far from legendary. The games have been littered with blowouts.
|LSU vs. Texas A&M & LSU vs. Arkansas By The Numbers|
|LSU vs. Texas A&M||LSU vs. Arkansas|
|All Time Series||LSU leads 29-19-3||LSU Leads 36-20-2|
|Average Margin of Victory||16.3||12.9|
|No. of One-Possession-Games||17||25|
|LSU Sports Information|
Aggies fans do not view the Tigers as their top rival. It will always be Texas, even though the two will not play each other anytime soon in the regular season.
If anything, Texas A&M has more history with Arkansas. The Aggies and Hogs played in some excellent contests dating back to the days of the Southwest Conference.
Texas A&M may also view Alabama as the more hated foe thanks to their two high-profile games since the Aggies have joined the SEC. Many fans, especially the younger ones, do not care about average games played in the '70s.
LSU fans do not have a rival they can call their own other than Arkansas. Ole Miss has Mississippi State. Alabama has Auburn. Florida has Florida State. The Tigers are the lone wolf in Louisiana.
Arkansas is the only BCS conference school in The Natural State, much like LSU in Louisiana. The states border each other, and many fans bleed over near the border.
LSU fans look down on Arkansas. They do not view the Hogs as a legitimate opponent.
LSU looking for a rival is like that one friend everybody has looking for a perfect significant other. They keep looking to boost their self-esteem and social status, even though a lesser, yet appealing person is there for the taking. The Tigers are desperately seeking attention from other schools, leaving a good rivalry from Arkansas behind.
Rivalries are overblown anyway.
Texas A&M and LSU fans can live on without playing each other. They have before, most recently between 1995 to 2011, when the two schools did not meet. Players do not remember that. Why try to push a rivalry that already has limited history to a generation of players that probably do not care?
Too many fans get caught up in the grandeur and hype surrounding college football than in the actual football itself. There are only a handful of rivalries that are truly legendary and get the casual fan's juices flowing.
When it comes to thrilling finishes and meaningful games, LSU against Arkansas has arguably been the SEC's best matchup in recent history.
Seven of the last eight games between the Hogs and the Tigers have been decided by one possession or less and have featured at least one team ranked in the Top 15. Five of the eight games featured heavy BCS implications.
It is hard to find as many classic finishes between Texas A&M and LSU. The best was in 1970, when Texas A&M's Hugh McElroy caught an 89-yard touchdown pass to win the game with 13 seconds left. But rarely have the games been memorable, especially since there have only been three games between the two teams since 1995.
LSU and Arkansas has been littered with classic games. In 2002, the "Miracle on Markham" happened. The Tigers would upset the Hogs four years later in a back-and-forth tilt to get into the Sugar Bowl. In 2007, the Hogs won a miraculous triple-overtime affair in Tiger Stadium that, at the time, looked like a national championship spoiler for LSU.
Those are just a few.
The rivalry made Houston Nutt look like a genius. What could possibly be better entertainment?
Simply put, Arkansas is not as big of a draw as Texas A&M. This will make LSU more money, while Arkansas loses a valuable nationally televised game.
Texas A&M and LSU could develop into a thrilling Turkey Day matchup. But a game that yearly has produced games that have gone deep into the fourth quarter will be disposed.
LSU and Arkansas will still play every season, but it will not be the same. It was national television every year on CBS, and the mystique surrounding the rivalry's frantic finishes will wither.
LSU's and Arkansas' seniors, and some underclassmen, will play their last regular-season college football game on Friday. They will wave goodbye to loyal fans and teammates. College football fans should also bid farewell to a Thanksgiving tradition and games that should never be forgotten.
Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.