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Are Texas Longhorns Too Scared to Renew Rivalry, Play the Texas A&M Aggies?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 14, 2015

USA Today

Every offseason, the idea of the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M pops up.

Every offseason, the entire college football world gets excited about the thought of the two powers from the Lone Star State renewing their rivalry that's been dormant since 2011.

This time, it's the two head coaches doing the talking to ESPN.com's Chris Low.

"That game is so much a part of this state," Texas head coach Charlie Strong told Low. "Over 100 years, we've played that game. Why stop it now because we're in different conferences? At some point, when it's right for everybody with the different schedules, I would love to play Texas A&M again."

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin
Texas A&M head coach Kevin SumlinJim Lytle/Associated Press

Fourth-year Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin echoed those sentiments.

"Now, moving into Year 4 and listening to our former students and our alumni base and knowing a lot of Texas alums, it's important that we play again," Sumlin said. "I think it will happen somewhere down the road."

Of course the coaches want to play each other. They're competitors, and they want to compete.

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Maybe Strong should have a chat with his athletic director, Steve Patterson, who had this to say to Max Olson of ESPN.com a year ago: "There's a lot of great tradition with Texas A&M. At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don't know. It's not at the top of my list. I'm really more focused on how we grow the footprint of the department."

That's a stance that he reiterated in December to Anwar Richardson of OrangeBloods.com.

What exactly does that mean? 

Texas has out-of-conference games scheduled with Notre Dame, USC, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan and other high-profile Power Five conference teams over the next 15 years, according to FBSchedules.com. As Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com notes, Texas is seemingly more concerned with playing high-profile teams outside of the state:

Zach Barnett @zach_barnett

Don't know about Hyman, but Patterson's reasoning has been, "Texas Exes would rather beat Michigan/Ohio State than A&M." Why not both?

Zach Barnett @zach_barnett

Texas fans constantly bellyache about lame Big 12 schedules. Seems like a simple solution to me, but I'm not the one in the AD suit.

That's a very dangerous, reckless and unnecessary plan for Texas—which is already a national brand to a point where its Longhorn Network and the financial landscape it created in the Big 12 was one of the primary driving forces of the conference realignment craze.

Texas AD Steve Patterson
Texas AD Steve PattersonEric Gay/Associated Press

Texas has been a national brand for a long time, and that won't change. What has changed, though, is the status of Texas A&M.

The former "little brother" of the Longhorns has evolved into more of a cousin over the last four years. Thanks to the move to the SEC, the success of former quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and publicity the school has gained, Texas A&M was the country's 13th-most valuable college football program in 2014, according to Forbes.com.

In other words, it's not exactly the "small sliver of East Texas" that former Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds predicted A&M would have when it moved to the SEC.

Kirk Bohls @kbohls

When it was said SEC expanded its footprint into Texas by adding A&M, Dodds said, "They have a sliver down the East side" of Texas.

On top of that, Sumlin has been recruiting his tail off, notching top-16 classes in each of his four seasons in College Station, including back-to-back classes that ranked in the top 10. Those classes are loaded with talented players from the Lone Star State, including stud defensive end Myles Garrett, wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones and legendary high school quarterback Kyler Murray.

For perspective, the Aggies' average class rank in the three previous seasons prior to Sumlin's arrival was 26.3, according to 247Sports' team rankings.

The move to the SEC matters, and it's only going to matter more as high school and middle school kids relate the SEC—and its success sending people to the NFL—to Texas A&M.

Texas still thinks that it's too good for Texas A&M, but that's false. It needs Texas A&M.

Texas A&M is gaining traction both in the state and nationally, and one way to slow that down is to play it out on the field. Strong knows this, but the administration doesn't seem to want to buy in quite yet.

Is it arrogance? Probably not. It's more likely fear.

After all, if the Longhorns were to get beaten consistently, that would only accelerate the evolution of Texas A&M football.

By avoiding the Aggies, Texas can maintain its sense of superiority, even though the Aggies' trek out on their own has chipped away at some of it while Sumlin and his crew have established a new identity for the program. 

If the Longhorns play the Aggies, and begin to lose on a consistent basis, that sense will be wiped away in a hurry, which would hurt Texas' national brand far more than a few home-and-home matchups against big-time opponents help.

Texas A&M doesn't need Texas. It's doing just fine on its own.

Texas, on the other hand, is scared of Texas A&M for what it is and what it's becoming.

The actions of each administration speak louder than the words of the head coaches.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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