College Football: Longhorns Threaten to Cancel Rivalry with Texas A&M Again

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College Football:  Longhorns Threaten to Cancel Rivalry with Texas A&M Again
Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images

It's 2011, and the Texas Aggies have finalized what they are calling a “100 year decision” in joining the SEC.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns have resorted to their old tricks by threatening to discontinue the annual rivalry game against A&M if the Aggies go to the SEC.

The Aggies have stated publicly that they would like to continue the rivalry and are leaving an open invitation to continue the 117-year-old tradition should the Horns decide that they are up to the challenge.

Once upon a time, Texas dominated Texas A&M on the football field. Those days are long past, and one of the benefits of the Aggies switching conferences is that the Longhorns have an excuse to drop A&M from the schedule. Believe me, if Baylor or Texas Tech switched conferences, the Longhorns would be more than happy to play them every year.

. . .

The Longhorns and Aggies will play for the 118th time this season, but it appears that’s where the series will end, at least for now. Texas is noncommittal about continuing the series, but indications are that since the Aggies decided not to follow orders, they’re going to be dropped.

That’ll be sad, and maybe someday, the series will resume. The Aggies have made it clear they’d love to keep the rivalry going even after they enter America’s toughest football conference. Maybe Texas thinks it’ll be gassed after the big one against Iowa State. (via Chron.com) 

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For Aggies, this is nothing new.

This is not the first time that the University of Texas has threatened to discontinue the rivalry.  Like a small child, the Longhorns have thrown themselves on the floor, kicking and screaming, threatening to take their ball and go home, in order to strong-arm A&M into giving in to their demands before.

Those who think A&M is the first to get fed-up with the Longhorns' antics need to look no further than the summer of 2010.  Go back and read all of the reasons Tom Osborne and Nebraska had for wanting to get as far from the Longhorns as possible.  As you will see, A&M is not the only school that has grown tired of putting up with Texas’ antics and decided to go elsewhere.

Schools like Nebraska had enough class to leave the Longhorns behind without any declaration such as “we will never play the University of Texas again!”  Instead, they simply moved to another conference in order to avoid the problems that are associated with sharing the same “house” with the Longhorns.

The story of the Longhorn’s first temper tantrum goes back 100 years to 1911, and not much has changed since then.


In the beginning

 

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The Aggies and Longhorns started playing each other in football in 1894.  However, it was not until 1902 that A&M was finally able to defeat the Longhorns on the gridiron for the first time.  The Aggies actually held the Longhorns to a scoreless tie earlier that season before defeating them (in Austin) 11-0 in the last game of the 1902 season.

The celebration for A&M was short lived, as the Aggies did not defeat the Longhorns again until the 1909 season.  In fact, between the victory in 1902 and the next in 1909, the Aggies were 0-7-1 against the Longhorns—losing seven times and tying once.

Finally, in 1909, with a new football coach named Charles B. Moran, the Aggies defeated the Longhorns twice during the season. The first win was a 23-0 shutout over the Longhorns, while the second was a 5-0 shut-out in Austin. A&M finished the 1909 season with an overall record of 7-0-1. 

The following season, the Aggies again defeated the Longhorns 14-8, making it three wins in a row over their rival from Austin, as well as their first time to beat the Longhorns in consecutive seasons. 

Charlie Moran continued on as the Aggies head coach from 1909 through the 1914 season. He tallied a record of 38-8-4 in six seasons at A&M, with only one losing season.

However, in 1911, the win streak came to an end, as the Aggies lost 0-6 to the Longhorns. The 1911 Aggie football team was heavily favored in the contest, and the Longhorns were lucky to have won the game. The Aggies clearly outplayed the Longhorns that day, but fumbled the ball late and set up the lone score by the Longhorns.

 

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It was no secret that the Longhorns disliked Charlie Moran. After all, he was one of the first coaches able to consistently defeat them in football. So after their unlikely victory in 1911, the Longhorns seized the opportunity to end the rivalry. The Longhorns refused to play Texas A&M and said they would not continue the rivalry unless A&M fired Coach Moran.

The Longhorns further claimed that Moran was using “ringers” or “illegal football players” in order to defeat them. The Longhorns, blinded by their arrogance, were convinced that there was no way the Aggies could defeat them in football without cheating.

While no one has ever proved whether or not any “ringers” played for either team, at the time, the rules of eligibility for college football players were rather relaxed.  Everyone, including the Longhorns, played by the simple rule of “if they were enrolled in school, they could suit up and play.” 

In the end, it was clear that the University of Texas was simply upset about losing to Texas A&M, and forcing A&M to fire their coach was the only thing they could think of to stop the bleeding.   

The Aggies initially ignored the Longhorns' threats and decided to keep Moran as their football coach; thus, the University of Texas discontinued the rivalry. Moran continued to coach the Aggies during the 1912, ’13 and ’14 seasons,  and no other school in the region, except the Longhorns, had any problems with Texas A&M and Coach Moran.

In 1914-1915, the Southwest Conference was beginning to take shape, and the Aggies knew it would be important for them to join the league.  Despite Moran’s success on the field, the Aggies felt the financial brunt of not playing the Longhorns during the 1912, ’13 and ’14 seasons. The Aggies were dependent on the money that had been made playing the Longhorns—money that was needed if A&M wanted to sustain its athletic program. 

However, the SWC’s creation was being led by L. Theo Bellmont, professor and Athletics Director at the University of Texas. A&M soon found that admission into the SWC was conditioned on firing Charlie Moran. If the Aggies kept Charlie Moran as head coach, the Longhorns would not only refuse to play them but would also deny them admission into the SWC.   

The pressure to join the conference and make more money was too big to ignore and the Aggies were forced to let Coach Moran go.  Moran left A&M in December of 1914, while the Corps of Cadets gave him and his family a full-dress parade.

With Moran gone, A&M was allowed to join the SWC. As soon as the agreement to join the conference was signed, school officials from the University of Texas and Texas A&M agreed to resume their annual football game starting in 1915.

After leaving Texas A&M, Coach Moran was an assistant at Carlisle, where he helped develop the great Jim Thorpe. Later, he ended up as head coach at Centre College (Kentucky), where, in 1921, he recorded one of the greatest upsets in college football history, beating Harvard 6-0.  Moran's Centre teams had a 42-6-1 record in five seasons and went undefeated in 1919 and 1921. It was no secret how good of a coach Charlie Moran really was and the Longhorns were happy to see him in Kentucky instead of College Station. 

Moran was the coach of Centre College when they played the Aggies in the Dixie Classic in January 1922. This was the game that saw E. King Gill walk out of the stands and suit up for the Aggies due to the overwhelming amount of injuries. Gill never entered the game, but stood ready on the sideline, and the tradition of the 12th Man was born. The head coach of the Aggies was Dana X. Bible, who later became head coach at the University of Texas from 1937 to 1946. 

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With the SWC officially started, the Aggies hired E.H. Harlan to replace Charlie Moran. 

Despite all the hard work by the Longhorns to get rid of Charlie Moran, the first season of the SWC did not go quite as they planned.  In fact, the 1915 season ended bitterly for the Longhorns, as they were again defeated by Texas A&M (13-0) in College Station. The victory was a surge of pride for Aggies, as they felt avenged for having been forced to fire Coach Moran the year before. 

The Longhorns considered the 1915 season “a bust” due to the fact that they had somehow lost to their rival in College Station again. Plus, the Horns had to create a new excuse for the loss, as they could no longer blame Charlie Moran and his alleged “cheating.”     

The loss was so devastating to the Longhorns that it ended the career of their then football coach Dave Allerdice. Allerdice was head coach of the Longhorns from 1911-1915, compiling an impressive 33-7 record.

Allerdice’s Longhorns entered the 1915 SWC season and outscored their first three opponents 223-0.  They then lost three of their final six games and finished with a 6-3 overall record, including season-ending losses to Texas A&M and Notre Dame.

The Longhorns finished tied for third in the SWC, and Longhorn fans everywhere were stunned.

After refusing to play the Aggies since 1911, forcing them to fire their head coach and forming the SWC in order to suit its own agenda, the Longhorns still could not find a way to beat A&M.

When asked why the 1915 season would be his last, Allerdice said it was due to the "super critical nature of the Longhorn fans."  Allerdice returned to Indianapolis and went into his family's meat packing business.  He tragically died in a house fire with his wife and son during the 1940 Christmas holiday.

The Aggies continued to exact their revenge on the Longhorns a year later after the 1916 game.  The Longhorns won the 1916 game 21-7 and were so excited about the victory that they planned on branding the score onto the steer they had recently acquired as a mascot. Upon hearing these plans, a few Aggie students snuck into the stockyard where the steer was kept and branded him 13-0—the score from the 1915 contest.


Fast Forward to 2011

It is now 100 years later, and the Longhorns are threatening again to discontinue the rivalry with the Aggies.  Actually, the Longhorns attempted the threat in the summer of 2010 as well, so their 2011 attempt is at least the third time they have tried it.

This time, the threat is again due to conference affiliation and losses in football.  In 1911/1915, the threat was “you can’t join the SWC and we won’t play you anymore unless you fire your coach.”  Today, it is eerily similar with “If you don’t stay in the Big 12 and forgo the SEC, we won’t play you anymore!”

It’s amazing how so much can change over a century, but how some things simply stay the same. 

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I have heard many Longhorn faithful try to use the excuse that they would not want to add Texas A&M as a non-conference game—as their regular season schedule will already be hard enough.  While this argument might have had some merit a few years ago, the truth is that the new Big 12 Conference simply won’t be as tough as it used to be.  Considering the schools that are most likely to replace Texas A&M all come from non-AQ conferences, the Longhorns might actually need some quality non-conference opponents. 

Longhorn fans also seem to forget that they have been playing Oklahoma since 1900. While the 2011 matchup between the Sooners and Longhorns will be the 106th, the Sooners and Longhorns have only been in the same conference for 20 of these games.

Of course, the Longhorns' 2011 threat also comes after a few wins by the Aggies in football. The Longhorns had a six game win streak over the Aggies until A&M crashed the party in Austin in 2006. The Aggies followed that up by winning the 2007 and 2010 meetings as well. 

While many will doubt that these Aggie wins have anything to do with the most current threat, it can at least be said that if the Longhorns were confident they could win the future contests against A&M, they would not worry about scheduling them. 

 

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