This has been an amazing journey. We've seen unhappy sips in varying states of panic, trails of exhausted defenders in JFF's wake, and more titles than we can count. (Literally. Because we're not very good at counting titles.)
But finally, we've come to the end of the road. Our five favorite A&M sports moments. Before we jump into the individual entries, let me take a minute to
distribute blame if you don't like the results re-visit the process at a high level.
All GBH contributors were given a list of just about every conceivable happy A&M sports moment since 1876, and each picked their top 25. The results were compiled into this five-part series, the first four parts of which you can find below.
Voting was confidential, so there's no way to pick out the individual soul that cost your favorite moment its preferred spot in the sun... you'll have to split your rage equally among all of us.
With that in mind, here are the rankings up to this point.
|T26||The Johnny Loop||Football vs. Arkansas; 2012|
|T26||Pat Henry’s Three-Peat||Men’s/Women’s Track; 2010-2012|
|T26||Bucky’s Throwback TD||Football vs. BYU; 1990 Holiday Bowl|
|T26||The Great Migration||Football vs. Fresno State; 2007|
|25||The First Maroon Out||Football vs. Nebraska; 1998|
|24||The SEC Press Conference||Mike Slive; 2012|
|23||Shark Bait||Football vs. Duke; 2013 Chick Fil A Bowl|
|22||Manziel to Evans||Football vs. Alabama; 2013|
|21||Down Goes Griner||Women’s Basketball vs. Baylor; 2011 Elite Eight|
|20||Sip QB Waits For The 12th Man||Football vs. Texas; 1985|
|19||The Johnny Hop||Football vs. Duke; 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl|
|18||Porter’s TD Catch||Football vs. Oklahoma; 2002|
|17||Toooooooombs||Football vs. Oklahoma; 2000|
|16||The Baptism||Men’s Basketball vs. Baylor; 2008|
|15||Von Steals The Show||Football vs. Oklahoma; 2010|
|14||The Drive||Football vs. Texas; 2006|
|13||Stoning Bo Jackson||Football vs. Auburn; 1986|
|12||Acie’s Dagger in Lawrence||Men’s Basketball vs. Kansas; 2007|
|11||The Shazor||Football vs. Alabama; 2012|
|10||Johnny’s Heisman Ceremony||New York City; 2013|
|9||Johnny’s Encore||Football vs. Oklahoma; Cotton Bowl 2013|
|8||Gary Blair Cuts Down The Nets||Women’s Basketball; 2011 National Title|
|7||He Got A Touchdown!||Football vs. Kansas State; 1998 Big XII Title|
|6||Let There Be Towels||Football vs. Nebraska; 2010|
And here.... we.... go
#5 - Gamble’s Fumble Recovery (Football vs. Texas; 1999)
Quick Note: I strongly recommend 12th Man Productions documentary on this topic - Burning Desire. I couldn't find an active link to buy it, but I'll award one internet to anyone who can provide an update in the comments.
That's what this game was about, really. Relief, and a quick four-hour respite from days of grief-stricken rallies, prayers, and remembrance services for the 12 Aggies that died during the Bonfire collapse of 1999.
For one afternoon, the players/students/former students/faculty/families and all other parties associated with Texas A&M had a chance to look past the events of the past week and focus on football.
And although the word "important" had been drastically redefined, this was a big football game. Sure, the pre-season #6 Aggies had stumbled to a 7-3 start courtesy of Zach Thomas, revenge in Lincoln, and the beginning of the Bob Stoops era... but still. This was #5 Texas, on our turf, on T+1.
The first half went poorly. The Aggies' only touchdown was immediately followed by a PAT error that led to a two point conversion, and Texas ultimately went in to the break leading 16-6.
But oh man.... that halftime. The Longhorn band played a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace and raised an A&M flag with their Longhorn flag before marching off the field. All class. And the Aggie band was stellar, as usual, but finished their performance with a silent block T that still gives me chills. Amazing, amazing stuff.
In the second half the Aggie defense woke up, holding Texas to only two first downs for the remainder of the game. A steady diet of Ja'Mar Toombs ground the horns down and eventually led to his second score of the day, trimming the lead to 16-13.
The horns continued to be ineffective on offense, and the Ags found themselves knocking on the door with a few minutes remaining. At this point we introduced Texas to the original QB/WR roommate combo, as Randy McCown connected with WR Matt Bumgartner to give A&M the lead.
The horns made things interesting late, but a forced fumble by the A&M defense (and the subsequent recovery by Gamble) put the game on ice.
Gamble's reaction was a perfect illustration of the entire Aggie family's thoughts at that moment. We had felt distraught, battered, grief-stricken, and miserable... but for a brief moment, we were happy. As far as I'm concerned, it was the only game in Texas A&M history that they absolutely had to win, and they got it done.
#4 - Four Man Alabama Rush (Football vs. Alabama; 2012)
Verne: Snap from Patrick Lewis. Four man Alabama rush.
Verne: Got him.
Gary: Nooooo they di-
Verne: No they didn't! Oh m- GRACIOUS!
Verne: HOW ABOUT THAT?!
[fifteen second ultra-cut of the raucous A&M sideline + happy KK + stunned bammers]
Gary: You can't teach that, can you? And you can't defend that.
Okay, hands in the air if you read that text without a smile creeping across your face. And be honest. To everyone with your hand up, you're either a) in a business meeting and can't smile but now have your hand in the air, b) a non-Aggie, or c) a soulless demon incapable of feelings.
How can you not love that? Even looking at it in text form, you can hear in the bewilderment in Verne's voice (and the subsequent "I told you so" in Gary's) that accompanied this moment.
This...... was everything. It created the Johnny legend. Before this game, he was just another newfangled fancy offensive quarterback who compiled stats and couldn't beat anybody of merit. But afterwards? He was Johnny F***ing Football.
And he gave final, undeniable proof that Sumlin made the right choice at QB, that the AD made the right choice bringing an Air Raid coach to the SEC, and that the BOR/Loftin made the right choice to jump to the SEC in general. Think about that. Three moves of that magnitude, all justified on the same day. And on top of that; sips, Bears, Sooners, and Raiders had to shelve their SEC jokes. Because they, too, knew it was over. That we were going to be fine.
Johnny has been all over this list. He's jumped over Blue Devils, tap danced around Sooners, circle-looped (honestly don't know what else to call it) through Razorbacks, and accepted a damn Heisman trophy.
But it all paled in comparison to this.
#3 - The Hit (Football vs. TCU; 1991)
I'd like to think that Kyle McPherson had himself a perfectly pleasant morning on November 7th, 1991. Maybe he woke up, snoozed his alarm a few times, and ate Lucky Charms while daydreaming about a famous victory over the Aggies. Watched some cartoons, perhaps. Played some Nintendo. Whatever he did, I hope it was lovely.
My interest in this gentleman's morning stems from the unfortunate incidents of his afternoon, as later that day Mr. McPherson would ran a quick slant into a brick wall named Quentin Coryatt and break his jaw in three places.
After hearing that description you'd be within your rights to think "Wow, I bet Coryatt laid out on that hit. It would probably get flagged in today's game." But nope. He didn't lay out. He didn't target.
He didn't even move.
It's incredible. It is. But I don't want to spend too much time glorifying a play that really did hurt the receiver. To me, this moment's placement at #3 is about more than one hit.
It's about an entire era of Aggie Football. An era where we could walk into a game at Kyle thinking "If the offense scores 14 points and doesn't give up any short fields, we're going to win." Or where we could watch the punt team run onto the field and think "It's no problem, their offense isn't going to score. They just aren't." And they wouldn't.
It's about suffocating defense. Jamming guys at the line, taking blocks on at two hundred miles per hour, and showing blitz on damn near every play because screw you we're blitzing and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
It's about winning. In the 1990's, the Ags compiled a remarkable home record of 55-4-1, which contained two separate winning streaks of 31 (between 1990-1995) and 22 (1996-2000) games.
Perhaps you didn't hear me. I said 31 and 22 games. As in, two separate streaks. Separate.
But that was life back then. We kicked ass, we forced turnovers, we popped people across the middle, and we won football games.
Okay, fine. Here it is again. God bless it, it's great.
#2 - The Shot (Men’s Basketball vs. Texas; 2006)
Earlier this year, I had the unfortunate assignment to re-hash the Aggie Basketball program's fall from grace, and I included my experience for this game as a student.
It's the night before the biggest game in the modern era of Texas A&M Basketball, and we're huddled around a TV in the Reed Arena grass. Someone pops in a DVD of last year's sip beating in College Station. Jokes are made, opponents are researched on a new phenomenon called Facebook, and spirits are incredibly high. Tomorrow we play for our first tournament appearance in 19 years.
I take a look back at the student section, and it's absolutely packed to the rafters. And it's still ninety minutes before game time. As I turn back towards the court it's almost impossible to take in the full scene... but I try. There are hand-made signs everywhere and the Rowdies are reading children's books to PJ Tucker. The arena is at fever pitch, and it is bigger than any enthusiasm Fran managed to garner at Kyle.
"The Shot" from Acie Law drops, and it's absolute pandemonium. I bound out of my seat with thousands of my closest friends, and the court becomes a sea of white. A "let us dance" sign is up somewhere. We're going to the dance. We just know it. We're actually f***ing going.
Here's how it played out.
If you weren't there, I wouldn't expect you to believe me.... but for 2-3 years, Aggie Basketball ran this campus.
I know. I know. Blasphemous, right? But for those of us in our late twenties, it was the absolute truth. Students would begrudgingly fill 75-80% of Kyle for Frantastic option-crud, yet would line up outside Reed for hours on end for conference games and days for big conference games. Seeing the student section at 100% capacity as the season ticket holders started trickling in 90 minutes early was a common occurrence.
I include that quick qualifier to help explain why a basketball moment landed at #2. For an entire wave of students, there was no defining football moment... this was it. This was our sports experience. Now excuse me while I grab some whiskey, ponder the past, and watch happy Reed Arena things on an endless loop.
#1 - Red White and Blue Out (Football vs. Oklahoma State; 2001)
Sadly, I have to tap back into the "amazing moments borne from loss" mindset, but this was nothing short of incredible.
In the first game at Kyle Field after the horrific events of 9/11, the top/middle/bottom decks were coordinated to turn the stadium into a giant USA memorial.
Ok, hands up again. Well, not you, 'person in business meeting,' but everyone else. Hands up if you saw this coming at #1.
I must admit, I was surprised when I compiled the results. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
In my mind, what puts this over the top is its origin. It wasn't a university-driven idea. Trust me, had this been the idea of A&M high-level decision makers, it would have been sterile, corporate, and ultimately poorly delivered. No, what made this so great and so quintessentially Aggie was that the entire thing was student-driven. Driven by the type of committed, effective student leaders that the university continues to churn out on an annual basis. Sure, the University should be credited for not standing in the way of this idea and removing roadblocks where they could... but this sucker ramped up from "random idea among a few people" to "100% participation" on the backs of student participation. In days. Days. Just amazing.
The game itself is secondary. Hell, it doesn't even matter. What mattered was the incredible show of American support that ensures Kyle is part of every "post 9/11 response" compilation ever created.
Well, that's it. The process is over. For those of you who have been here since the beginning, thanks for accompanying me on this journey. And for those who jumped in today, do yourself a favor and check out the past entries. Because nothing can brighten up a workday quite like re-living Aggie sports success.
But enough about that. How do you guys rank the top five? Did anything get shafted? Were any big moments unfairly left out of the process altogether? Hit the comments below.