Longhorns prepare for final goodbye to A&M

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Texas defensive tackle Kheeston Randall (91) prepares to rush the Texas A&M offensive line in the 2010 matchup. Texas is hoping to avenge last year’s 24-17 loss by winning what could be the last game of the historic rivalry.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

Longhorn fans across the nation will prepare to say a final goodbye to A&M this Thanksgiving, but some say the influence of the rivalry will not end along with the tradition.

The annual football game between UT and Texas A&M, beginning in 1894, created a long-standing ritual of pitting Texans against each other in the name of sport. A&M did not allow female students to attend the college at the time, a custom Bill Little, special assistant to the head football coach for communications from UT, said helped create a family feud, as sometimes the female students of UT would find men from A&M.

“I’ve always felt the rivalry was unique because it was in-state,” Little said. “It blended families, and in Texas, no matter who we play, the two schools will always be linked.”

The 118-year-old family tradition will come to a close this year, at least temporarily, but A&M English junior Molly Livingstone agrees that it will not be forgotten. Livingstone said she was “brainwashed” from the time she was little to dislike burnt orange and can remember choosing maroon T-shirts whenever given an option.

“You can’t grasp the spirit of A&M without going to this game,” said Livingstone, whose parents and brother are also Aggies. “It’s the essence of the school.”

For some, the spirit shown during the UT-A&M matchup was pivotal in making the decision of where to attend college. Radio-television-film junior Ivy Chiu said attending the rival game with her sister during high school made her want to wear burnt orange forever.

“I hadn’t anticipated ending up at UT, but it made me want to be part of a school founded on pride,” Chiu said. “That was one of the best games I’ve ever been to and my first taste of college.”

The school spirit that follows the tradition of the UT-A&M game is something some representatives of both schools do not believe will be easily replaced. Brad Marquardt, spokesman for A&M athletics, said students will have to “simply adjust to the new set of circumstances.”

“You can’t just ‘plug in’ a new rival and expect it to replace the history that was built between Texas A&M and Texas over the last century,” Marquardt said. “But I don’t think there’s any question that new rivalries will be built as time goes on.”

Marquardt said although the tradition of the rivalry will be lost, new traditions will form in addition to new rivalries. He said traditions associated with the game, such as the Aggie Bonfire, formerly brought the entire campus together.

UT traditions such as the Hex Rally are grounded in campus unity as well, Little said, because in the tradition’s first year, all of Austin burned red candles in hopes of hexing the Aggies.

Little said although old traditions must change with the loss of the rivalry, the history will forever stand between the two teams.

“They’ll have to change the school song,” Little added jokingly. “You have to give kudos to the guys who wrote it. I guess they really did mean it when they said ‘goodbye to A&M.'”

Printed on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 as: UT-A&M: End of an era