We all knew Kyle Field would undergo some significant changes this offseason, but I think we've all been shocked by the speed at which the changes have occurred. So as we watch in horror at the ongoing destruction, the Good Bull Hunting contributors reminisce about their favorite memories from what will soon be known as "Old Kyle Field."
My favorite memory of Kyle Field isn't even from a football game. It was my junior year of college (Fall 2003), when my friend and I decided late one night to sneak onto Kyle Field (alcohol may or may not have been involved). Most people I know have snuck onto Kyle and some point (and this wasn't the only time we did it), but this trip sticks out in my mind.
I'm not sure how secure Kyle Field is now, but back then, you just had to be slim enough to fit through a loosely-secured gate at the southeast entrance. Once there, we did the usual running around the field like idiots. We were even able to shimmy our way onto the second deck of the former student side and found an open luxury suite window. That is - to this day - the only time I've been in a luxury suite at Kyle Field (note to future suite holders: lock those windows).
But the most memorable part of this late-night venture into Kyle Field was when we made our way down the tunnel underneath the student section. I'd never been here before, and was amazed with what we found. As you know, that was part of the original horseshoe, so much of the structure was almost 80 years old. You could just feel the history down there. There were old locker rooms, outdated equipment, and even a back entrance to a Read Building basketball court! It was a side of Kyle Field that I'd never seen, one that I imagine many have never seen. You got a sense of the stadium's history, and felt like you were a part of it.
Then again, maybe it was just the whiskey.
With an icy mix accumulating across north Texas, and my mother a bit perturbed that we were skipping out on yet another holiday evening, my father and I set out for Kyle Field around the time that the Cowboys kicked off against the Dolphins on Thanksgiving Day, 1993.
As Brad Sham described the worsening conditions, I remember pulling into the parking lot around the time that Leon Lett went sliding through the snow, and the bewildered looks from everyone that had driven up from the south as we had at least two inches of ice stuck to the front of the family van.
My memories from the game are vague, as young children's will be. I remember Rodney Thomas bouncing off of defenders. I remember vocabulary words from my father that were certainly new to my impressionable ears. And I remember the day ending as it had started in Dallas, with a white sky filled not with snow, but cotton as the Aggies celebrated their ninth win in 10 tries against those lowly Longhorns.
Surely it would always be so.
My favorite memory is the 2007 Texas game. First, some back story. I went to UT Arlington out of high school for some unknown reason and after a year or so decided I wanted out. I had lots of friends at A&M and one day realized that was where I wanted to be.
While it seems blasphemous to say, I should also mention that until that point I didn't care about football. I grew up playing basketball and didn't really understand the appeal of it. It just didn't click to me. I knew touchdowns and field goals and that's about it. But I felt like college wasn't college without football, even though I didn't know anything about it. I mistakenly believed at the time that a school like A&M must have a great football team, right? Welp...
I spent the 2007 season learning about football (as much as one can with Fran at the helm) and being the most redass member of the 12th Man as I could, but it was more because that's what I thought was expected rather than being that emotionally invested in it. The 2007 Texas game changed that. It was my first Texas game. I had learned the War Hymn, but that night we were yelling it at the bastards. It was a windy, chilly night game. That was when it all came together for me. Football wasn't just a game of back and forth with an oddly shaped ball. It's physical and psychological war on the field. You desire for your team to win so much so that you'll stand for hours supporting them and yelling as if your voice could stop the opposing team. Or that waving a small white towel like a helicopter could change the course of the game. It's sharing that passion with tens of thousands of others in the place we call the Hate Barn, no matter how it looks. It was when I felt I really became an Aggie football fan.
You all know the introduction: "Now forming at the North End of Kyle Field, the nationally famous Fightin' Texas Aggie Band." I had watched two of my older brothers progress their way through the Corps of Cadets in A-Battery, Artillery Band - and I had inherited that same college path. My freshman year, I joined A-Battery as well, and my wild, unruly personality clashed with rigid, to-the-letter lifestyle of the paramilitary leadership laboratory known as the Corps of Cadets. It was intense, and it made me one intense, redass fish.
Rewind: I was the snare captain of the drumline in my 5A Texas HS band - we'd won up to the All-State Level in UIL marching band competitions, we'd come in third place at Bands of America - a big deal if you were in band in high school. So, when I arrived at Texas A&M in the fall of 1999 and the pissheads handed me a pair of cymbals, in my mind I scoffed (I was the snare captain last year, dammit), but that little voice in my head told me to just follow orders and it would all work out.
And boy did it. As much as one can, I impressed people by beating the ever-living, everloving hell out of those cymbals. I took a queer (BQ pun intended) joy in being called a "cymbal frick" and wore the lowly position as a badge of pride throughout my fish campaign. I remember upperclassmen looking up and back at me with these goofy grins and a nod as if to say, "Hell yeah, fish! THAT's how you play the cymbals!" Which seems silly in retrospect, but it was damn gratifying at the time.
Nothing could prepare me for stepping onto Kyle Field. If you think it’s neat looking down at the band and watching the formations shift and creep around the field with magnificent precision; you should try to imagine it from the bandsman's perspective: having 160,000 eyeballs (that's 80,000 pairs of eyes) fixated on your every muscle twitch. There is an indescribable amalgam of emotions that flood a fish the first time he approaches the north endzone to form up in "spread formation": apprehension, fulfillment, terror, pride, nausea, smallness, fortitude... Up to that point in my young life, I had never experienced something with such mystery or legacy - for as hard as the upperclassmen pushed us, derided us, and corrected us - there was always this reward awaiting the fish: you get to be one of the lucky few who get to perform on Kyle Field with a rapt audience for 10 minutes of glory. Thus, my most favorite memory of Kyle doesn't really involve football, but a simple feeling of thankfulness to be part of the legacy of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.
However, this same story also leads to my second and third favorite memories at Kyle Field. The second was the very somber Midnight Yell Memorial held before the t.u. game after the Bonfire collapse in 1999. The band was in the bleachers in the south endzone for that yell practice - and if I concentrate (through blurry eyes) I can still see the candles and lighters shining in a darkened Kyle Field like so many little stars in the night sky. I can still hear the Yell Leaders reciting the Last Corps Trip and adding a few lines for the beloved Aggie departed. And I can still here the utter silence in between each volley fired to commemorate the fallen. The third favorite memory came about 14 hours later as Matt Bumgardner caught a 14-yard pass at the back of the endzone to beat the #5 team in the nation, and our chief in-state rival, and begin the healing process for many in our large Aggie Family.
Fall '02 was my freshman year at A&M. Top-ranked Oklahoma was headed to town and so accordingly, we hit Northgate for the pregame. In my rush to meet up with my friends, and like an idiot, I illegally parked. An hour or so later I come back to find my truck is gone. It had obviously been towed. Being young and dumb, I freaked; thinking my parents would be pissed. I made my roommate immediately take me to the impound yard to get it out.
By the time we got to the game and up the third deck, it was the start of the 3rd quarter. We saw the last half of the greatest game/event I've ever attended. Kyle Field was at its greatest that day as Reggie "The Real Deal" McNeal came off the bench as a true freshman and pulled off the upset. Kyle Field was as loud as it's ever been and the third deck was in constant movement, even when we weren't doing the War Hymn. I haven't experienced an atmosphere even remotely close to it since, including Nebraska in 2010 or Texas in 2011. (Due in large part to Douchebag Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman)
Do you remember what a 9-6 game looks like? Hell, a 9-6 quarter would seem ridiculous today. Nebraska 2010. It doesn't get any better. My brother and I bought floor tickets to see Roger Waters on Nov. 20 sometime over the summer. When game week rolled around, we decided to sell our concert tickets at a huge loss to go watch the Aggies tangle with the fighting Pelini brothers. Best decision ever, but I guess it should have been a no-brainer.
My brother works a crazy schedule, so this was a big deal... him being off on a Saturday and getting to watch a game in person. The atmosphere at Kyle Field that night brought to real life the hyperbolic accounts of Aggie football fandom. Bleachers rattling, students yelling and barely stopping to breathe, The Zone yelling on third down (they did, I swear), feeling the concrete shift beneath your feet. When the game was over and the towels rained down on the student section, it was one of the most beautiful things I've seen. Thanks Pepsi.
On Sept. 23, 2006, Texas A&M hosted Louisiana Tech at Kyle Field. Right around kickoff time a torrential downpour hit College Station, and the stadium was evacuated due to lightning. My friends and I decided that the rain delay would be best spent back at our tailgate in Spence Park enjoying a few more adult beverages, so we left the stadium expecting to find a few like-minded souls. What we didn’t anticipate is that Spence Park had turned into a madhouse free-for-all. Everywhere you looked people were playing mud football, mud wrestling or mud binge drinking. The drainage ditch running through the middle of the park was at its maximum capacity and was flowing like the Brazos. While some people were just tackling strangers into the water, a more creative group of Ags had propped a picnic table against a wooden crate and were using it as a ramp to ride bikes down the hill and launch themselves into the water.
For one glorious hour, everyone in that park forgot that they were real adults with real concerns. For one hour we were all 8 years old, invincible, and completely unconcerned about rain, mud, or injury. It was beautiful and I will never forget that day. And of course the Ags won, 45-14.
Kyle Field is hallowed ground. I spent five years at A&M attending every home game witnessing some heart breaking losses and incredible overtime victories. I was always in awe walking out onto the field and leading the stadium in the Spirit. I sang along, but always took the time to look around and actually take in what I was getting to participate in. I'll cherish those memories forever.
My favorite memory of Kyle was a cold Thanksgiving game in 2007. t.u. came to town and we handled them 38-30. The temperature was in the 40s and dropping as the night game ticked on. There isn't much protection from the elements in a short sleeve white uniform on the sideline, but I gladly threw off my shoes and rolled up my pants for the trip to Fish Pond. The Corps fish tossed me in and it was like getting stabbed with 1000 beautiful beautiful victory knives. We led yells in the freezing water before walking over to the YMCA building where I couldn't feel my legs until about half way through yell practice. It was miserably cold, but the water of Fish Pond has never felt better.
I'll enjoy the new Kyle Field for the rest of my life, but I'll never forget the time I spent in the old one.
My favorite Kyle Field memory? Wow, there are way too many to count. Beating Nebraska in '10 brought tears to my eyes. Watching the towels rain down and the students sawing it off on the field was amazing. Seeing our two fourth down stops against OU in '10 was probably about as close to the original Wrecking Crew as those my age have seen in person. Seeing the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band at the last home game still moves me each and every year. There are way too many "favorites" to count, and I know the other guys on here have mentioned theirs.
I'd like to go a different path with this. Instead of "favorite," I'm going to give you one of the most memorable and funny experiences I've had inside Kyle.
The high temperature in College Station on Oct. 1, 2005 was 96 degrees. The Ags and Baylor kicked off that morning at 11:30, and A&M took a 7-3 lead into halftime.
The future Mrs. Spadilly (who was a student at the time) and I had tickets on the very last row of the third deck, which is a great view, but puts you closer to the surface of the sun than the field. We were two people in the middle of a sweaty, hot and sunburned crowd. When the second half started, we realized that it had started to lightly mist, which we thought very strange on a day when there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The light mist continued to come and go, especially when we were on defense and Baylor faced a big third down. It finally dawned on us that the "mist" we were feeling was the sweat flying off of everyone’s 12th Man towel (ours included) when we started to wave them.
Dr. Norris Comacho
I always knew Kyle Field was big, but I didn't realize how big until the first time I stepped inside the building. In fact, I'd never thought of stadiums as buildings before. I think it was riding the elevator that drove this home. I had been on campus for maybe a week as a freshman and went to a fraternity rush event in the Kyle Field press box. It was my first and only visit to the press box to date, but it blew me away. They had just pulled up the artificial surface and installed real grass, which was immaculate, and the view was incredible. And so was the press box. Coming from a 3A football school, I was used to cinder-block press boxes with folding chairs, not luxury offices with modular furniture and banks of TVs. I remember sitting up there and looking down at the field and across it at the massive student section and marveling at the enormity of college football. I was there for Nebraska in '98, which is a close second, but I think my initial encounter was more overwhelming.
Before there was such a thing as the "Risk Management Department", before 9/11, before there was "security" at Kyle Field, I have my fondest memory of Kyle Field. The day was Nov. 7, 1998. I was 14 at the time and my father and I had spent the morning in Austin watching t.u. vs. Okie Lite. Ricky Williams was playing for the Horns and my father knew someone in the Athletic Department that got us tickets, a tour of the facilities, and I even got to put on Ricky's helmet before the game started. A big deal for an impressionable 14 year old who thought he would one day be striking the Heisman pose himself. I remember thinking how nice everything was, it was so shiny and new, the stadium was huge, they had the latest technology, there were over 2,000 mounted TVs in every possible nook and cranny of the place, I was overwhelmed by how much this university had at their disposal. I wondered how A&M would ever compete. The game itself actually had a thrilling end as Texas won on a last-second filed goal. But, I remember thinking how weak the crowd had been, no one stood up, they didn't even cheer, people would golf clap for a touchdown. This was completely foreign to me, having only been to Aggies games at Kyle Field up to that point. In the third quarter I actually remember falling asleep in my seat. My father and I had a great day, but we felt an emptiness inside. It was like we had just watched paint dry instead of college football.
It was at this time that we realized just up the road a night game was about to start at glorious Kyle Field. It was raining outside and we had been up since 6 a.m. that morning, but we knew we had to see some real football to make up for the sad environment we had just endured for four hours. We drove through the rain to try and make it to the Texas A&M game for the second half. We didn't have tickets but we would figure it out when we got there. We arrived at Kyle Field a few minutes before the half. We were able to borrow a couple of stubs from two people who were leaving at the half (I'm sure they were Sooners…no good Ag would leave at half) and we headed into the roar of Kyle.
Our hearts and souls were already filling back up. All the life that t.u had taken out of us, was being pumped back in at full intervals as we entered mighty Kyle Field. My father and I entered at the southwest side of the stadium. As we headed towards the ramp, we could see the South End Zone and part of the field. We strolled over to see how close we could get to the field, just to see if we could view the game for a few minutes before the half ended. As we approached, we noticed that it was wide open and we might be able to just walk onto the track. Everyone was in ponchos, it was just the right amount of mist to blur vision, and we were able to slip onto the OU sidelines. We proceeded to walk at a brisk pace and headed right for the Mascot Corporal and the Officers of the Day so we would be amongst friendlies. We stayed right next to the Mascot Corporal for the the rest of the game and just behind us we could feel the wrath of the the 12th Man rain down upon the opposition, a wall of unrelenting loyalty and love for team and school was being orchestrated by the the yell boys. And just ten feet in front of us was a classic gridiron battle. It made me forget that there was a t.u. football program, much less that just two hours before I had been sitting amongst a larger crowd that did not remotely exemplify the passion, the fever, the fanaticism of the 12th Man. It made all the shiny new training tables, mahogany lockers and leather bound suites at t.u. seem worthless. I knew then how A&M would compete, I knew what made A&M different, I knew what made A&M better. It was through the medium of Kyle Field that the Spirit of Aggieland was channeled every Saturday in the Fall, and it was there that I had the privilege to watch games for 28 years.
What’s your favorite Kyle Field memory? Share it in the comments.