One of the casualties of conference expansion was Texas-Texas A&M, the long-running and heated in-state rivalry that was first played in 1894 and played every year from 1915-2011. Since A&M officially left for the SEC in 2012, neither side has been inclined to reignite the rivalry with a non-conference series.
Hopes were raised, however, when it became clear as the 2014 season moved along that there was the possibility the Aggies and Longhorns could meet up in the postseason. It appears, though, those hopes were a false one.
Citing a pair of sources close to the situation, Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com is reporting that an A&M-UT bowl game this year will not happen because “apparently the Aggies –- or perhaps the SEC on the Aggies’ behalf –- [will make] sure there will be no postseason matchup of two of college football’s most bitter divorcees.” Per the report, the SEC has made it clear to bowl games with SEC-Big 12 tie-ins that the conference “won’t support a Texas vs Texas A&M postseason matchup” because, Brown writes, “A&M has too much to lose from a potential loss.”
As the theory goes, A&M is the top dog in recruiting in the state of Texas and playing UT in a bowl game, with the possibility of a loss, could potentially cause damage to the Aggies on that front.
The SEC has tie-ins to a handful of bowls, including the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, the game most connected to the resumption of the rivalry.
“The regional significance of the bowl is already compelling for fans, and then when you consider a matchup like Texas and Texas A&M, if that does happen, that would really be outstanding for fans, our community and the two schools,” Texas Bowl president Jamey Rootes said Sunday after UT reached six wins. “Fortunately Texas has gotten bowl-eligible to be in the conversation. There are some exciting scenarios coming to light, and certainly Texas and Texas A&M is one.”
One Sir Mix-A-Lot-sized but, however, is that the SEC has the ability to place teams in whichever bowl it wants. If it sees the potential for damage to its brand or one of its members, it can nix the matchup. That, according to Brown, is precisely what the SEC intends to do if such a matchup is put on the table.
Even columnists in the state see the downside of a postseason clash for both sides, but especially for the College Station bunch. From the Dallas Morning News‘ Kevin Sherrington:
As for A&M, a lot of the fizz has gone out of the buzz over the SEC move, but it’s still been an unqualified success. Even with TCU and Baylor in the CFP conversation, the Aggies can still claim #WRTS [We Run This State] if they want. But the proposition becomes infinitely more problematic if Texas beats them. The SEC affiliation doesn’t seem quite so cool if a Big 12 team still rules.
That’s too bad, as a TAMU-UT postseason matchup, in the state of Texas, would have turned any otherwise lower-tier bowl into must-see TV. Instead, we will likely, provided the report is accurate, get something along the lines of UT-Florida or UT-LSU — a couple of nice possibilities featuring “name” programs that don’t carry a fraction of the bitterness an in-state squabble featuring the recent divorcees would.