Del Conte: ‘Us not playing A&M is not good for college football’

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte and Texas A&M’s athletic director Ross Bjork spoke about reinstating the Lone Star Showdown on Friday at a panel during the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival. The teams haven’t faced off since 2011, but Del Conte is adamant about resuming the rivalry. 

“Us not playing A&M is not good for college football … we need to play each other,” Del Conte said. 

The rivalry has been around since 1894, with Texas leading the series 76–37–5. The rivalry has been at a standstill since Texas beat A&M 27-25 courtesy of Justin Tucker’s walk-off kick in College Station in 2011. A&M then moved to the SEC at the start of the 2012 season, resulting in a discontinuation of the Thanksgiving week tradition. But according to Bjork, this is because former UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds halted the rivalry. 

“Chris’s predecessor, (three) predecessors before said, ‘Hey, you know what, we decide when we’ll play A&M,’” Bjork said, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman. “They moved on. (The feeling was) so you know what? Forget ’em. And so that’s pretty deep within the A&M family. Hey, there was an offer made, it was declined and so I think now both programs have moved on.”

The state of Texas has not moved on, however. In November 2018, state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, filed a bill that would allow the teams "play a nonconference, regular-season football game against one another on the fourth Thursday, Friday, or Saturday of November each year.” Gov. Greg Abbott also supported the reinstatement in February.  

In 2018, the Houston Chronicle reported that Del Conte called then-A&M athletic director Scott Woodward about a potential matchup in the 2022-23 season. Woodward declined the offer. The Longhorns are now scheduled to play Alabama in 2022. 

Bjork, who is only in the 82nd day of his job, said the rivalry would have to be reinstated on the Aggies’ terms.

“The sentiment that I get is Texas A&M offered to continue and the University of Texas said no. (A&M was told) it’ll be on our terms,” Bjork said according to the Austin American-Statesman.