Texas A&M Football: 10 Ways to Know You Are an Aggie Fan
Texas A&M Aggies are known for their allegiance to their alma mater and their adherence to traditions. A&M has over 200,000 former students living around the world and seemingly almost as many traditions.
Rival schools like to poke fun at the Aggies' traditions, but most Aggies realize that the traditions offer a unique shared experience that helps bond Aggies young and old. They are the ties that bind.
As the Aggies embark on a new era in the Southeastern Conference, it will be interesting to see how the new conference-mates view the Aggie traditions. Considering how steeped in history most SEC schools are, one should expect the SEC fans to treat the Aggies' traditions with the same amount of respect as they treat their own.
Aggies will eventually learn that when you lose a football game to Alabama that the Tide fans like to remind the opposing fans with a cheer called "Rammer Jammer." Auburn fans prefer to throw rolls of toilet paper over some trees (and everything else near Toomer's Corner). Every school has their own little quirks that make them unique.
Since A&M was once a military school, it just has a few more than its SEC brethren.
This is a look at 10 ways that you know you are an Aggie fan. It should help the SEC fans identify the Aggies in their midst.
10. You Do Not Expect Cheer Leaders to Be Female
A&M has recently received a lot of press because there are some who think that with the move to the SEC, the Aggies should make another change and allow the Aggie Dance Team to perform at halftime of A&M football games.
A&M opened in 1876 as an all-male military school. In the 1920's the Aggies started to have some of the students dress up in white outfits and lead the fans in "yells" during football games. This evolved into the "Yell Leaders" you see on the sidelines today at A&M athletic contests.
The student body elects five Yell Leaders every year, and they represent the school at A&M functions around the country and at athletic contests. Women have run for the Yell Leader position on multiple occasions, but none have been elected so far.
Having male "Yell Leaders" or cheerleaders as some schools are wont to call them is just one of the more visible things that makes A&M unique.
9. You Go to Football Games Just to See the Band
The Aggies have this in common with most historically black colleges and universities. During the leaner years on the field, the only reason a lot of fans go to the A&M football games was to see the Aggie Band perform at halftime.
Their succinct, military marching shows has drawn rave reviews from around the world. As an Aggie fan it is not unusual to have opposing fans come up to you and ask if the band is going to travel to their stadium and perform in the fall.
The Aggie Band is renowned for their precision marching and has performed all over the world.
8. You Understand Why a Cemetery for Dead Dogs Needs a Scoreboard
The mascot for Texas A&M is a border collie named "Reveille." There have been many Reveilles over the years, and when one of them passes on, it was buried in a cemetery located in front of the North end of Kyle Field.
The North end of Kyle Field was in a horseshoe like most of the architecture for the stadiums built in those days. There was a tunnel leading from the base of the horseshoe to the top that fans would go through in order to access their seats. If you stood at the cemetery for the Reveilles, you could see through that tunnel.
It was said that the Reveilles who had passed on could always see the scoreboard and see the Aggies outscoring their opponents. When Kyle Field was remodeled in the late 1990's and the horseshoe was torn down, the graveyard for the Reveilles was moved.
The new end zone structure at the north end of the field did not have a corridor that you could view the field from. To fix this, an electronic scoreboard was placed near the new cemetery.
7. You Think Nothing of Standing an Entire Football Game
Texas A&M students stand the entire game during football games to show their willingness to enter the game and help the team if called upon.
In 1922, during a football game against Centre College, all of players on the A&M team were injured except the 11 on the field. E. King Gill was a student at A&M who had quit the football team to concentrate on basketball. He was at the game and changed into an injured player's uniform and stood on the sideline in case any of the other players were injured and he had to go into the game.
The Aggies rallied and won the game. Gill stood on the sideline the entire game and was never asked to go in. To honor the selflessness of Gill and show their readiness if called upon, Aggie students stand during the entire game.
6. You Have Ever Seen a Press Box Move
When the Aggies sing the third verse of the "War Hymn," they interlock arms and sway to the right and left. When the upper decks of Kyle Field were designed, it wasn't taken into account that there would be tens of thousands of fans swaying back and forth on them.
When the Aggies sway back and forth during the "War Hymn," the third deck and press box at Kyle Field move two to three inches to the left and right.
It makes for a very traumatizing experience for visiting media members who have never been to a game at Kyle Field.
5. You Know "Caught and Dropped" Has Multiple Meanings
Dave South is the voice of Aggie sports. If you have ever listened to an A&M sporting event on the radio, then odds are that you have heard South's golden baritone voice.
Some people get frustrated with South's announcing style, but the guy is definitely all Aggie.
During football games Dave South loves to use the term "caught and dropped." That has multiple meanings. It could mean that a wide receiver caught a pass but was not able to hold onto it. It could mean that a wide receiver caught the ball but was then dropped by a tackler. It could mean that an A&M defense player caught an opposing player and dropped him with a tackle.
It takes a lot of experience listening to South to be able to decipher exactly what is going on during a ballgame.
4. You Think Overalls Are a Good Choice for Gameday Attire
Go to any SEC football game during the heat of the day in September and you are just as likely to find a student wearing a shirt and tie as a T-shirt and shorts.
Students at SEC schools, especially members of fraternities and sororities, dress to the nines for football games. Men wearing blazers and ties and women in sundresses are a common site on autumn Saturdays.
At A&M the Yell Leaders have traditionally worn decorative overalls to Yell Practice the Friday before the game. Some students decided that it was a good idea to wear their own decorative overalls to games.
SEC fans should not be surprised to see multiple Aggies wearing overalls with various emblems painted on them during games.
3. You Are a Student and Expect to Have 50 Yard Line Tickets to the Big Game
At most large public universities if you are a student you can only hope to get tickets to a couple of games per season.
At A&M, every student who wants a ticket to a football game can get one. Texas A&M has the largest student allocation of tickets of any school in the country. There are over 31,000 season tickets sold to students for football.
Not only do all of the A&M students who want a ticket get the opportunity to buy one, they are given prime seating at the game. The East side of the stadium is allocated to the students. That means that students can get 50-yard line seats to even the most desired games.
Much like Duke, the A&M administration has recognized that the students are the reason the university is in existence and gives them prime seating to athletic contests.
2. You Know Which Grass You Are Not Supposed to Walk on
There is a common misconception that Aggies do not want anyone to walk on the grass anywhere on campus.
The Memorial Student Center is a living memorial for the A&M students who gave their lives in all of the wars and military conflicts that the United States has participated in since 1876. Because it is a memorial, everyone is asked to remove their hats when they went the building and to refrain from walking on the grass outside the building.
This has been misconstrued to Aggies not wanting anyone to walk on the grass anywhere on campus. The less educated fans of various other schools would delight in telling Aggies stories of how they "dared" to walk on the grass on the A&M campus.
Harvey Updyke aside, I do not think that the Aggies have to worry about SEC fans walking on grass that honors our fallen heroes.
1. You Understand That Football Is Not Life or Death, It Is More Important
Texas A&M will always be a football school. Aggies will always care more about football than any other school. This is the case at most Southern schools. This is especially the case in Texas where football is still king.
A&M is going from a conference where schools like Oklahoma State, Tech, Kansas and ISU routinely struggle to sell out 50,000-60,000 seats for a home game to a conference where 92,000 people show up for a spring game.
The Aggies can relate to the passion that SEC fans have for their football team because they share that same passion. They are not just trying to pass the time until basketball season starts like the fans up in Lawrence, KS.
Saturdays in the fall are important to Aggies, and winning or losing can define your mood for the entire next week. Some people may view this kind of devotion as misplaced priorities, but Aggies, and SEC fans for that matter, know that college football is a major part of the culture that defines this part of the country.