Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman and others are reporting that Deloss Dodds is set to announce that he will retire in August after 32 years as Texas' athletic director. This news is reviving the debate over whether the Aggies and Longhorns should resume a 119-year-old rivalry. Adding to a history of public disdain for Texas A&M, Deloss Dodds made comments to the Daily Texan last Spring that made fans think the rivalry had been put to bed, at least for a while.
"They’re the ones that decided not to play us. We get to decide when we play again. I think that’s fair. If you did a survey of our fans about playing A&M, they don’t want to. It’s overwhelming. I know. I hear it. Our fans are important to us. I think there’s got to be a period where things get different. I think there’s too many hard feelings."
With Dodds now exiting the picture next summer, two of our authors squared off to discuss the merits of resuming the rivalry or letting it stay dead.
Hell Yes, Play Texas
By ColoradoAg, goodbullhunting.com manager
Over the past two years, one ornery old man has used his microphone to take veiled and not-so-veiled shots at Texas A&M in regard to the continuance of one of college football’s most storied rivalries. The ornery old man who brazenly proclaimed “we are the Joneses” is set to announce the departure from his post as the athletic director of the University of Texas.
In many ways, DeLoss Dodds has been the perfect figurehead for University of Texas Athletics. He’s confident. He loves money. He loves talking about money and telling you how much he has. He likes fancying himself as the Biggest Swinging Dick in any room he occupies. He apologizes for nothing. He seems to revel in rubbing his opponents the wrong way. You could certainly say that these traits were instrumental in his long term, successful tenure as an athletic director of an intercollegiate powerhouse.
When Texas A&M quieted the skeptics and followed through with their intentions of joining the Southeastern Conference in the summer of 2011, Dodds shunned political correctness and diplomacy when expressing his feelings and speaking on behalf of the University of Texas. When asked about the SEC entering the state of Texas market, Dodds said, “They have a sliver down the east side (of Texas).” Dodds was quick to point out that future non-conference schedules were booked. With regard to continuing the rivalry with A&M, Dodds said, “we get to decide when we play again.”
The Texas-Texas A&M divorce can be described in many ways and runs the gamut in terms bias and perspective. It’s labeled as petty, hate-filled, passive aggressive, overtly aggressive, ego-driven, warranted, and the right thing to do. Feelings have been hurt. The finger pointing is incessant. Every Texan is more than happy to give you their ironclad opinion on the matter. This bickering is only exacerbated by the current state of affairs with each school’s football program. Texas A&M is riding an unprecedented surge of momentum on the backs of a charismatic young coach and a Heisman Trophy winner with celebrity status never seen before in college sports. Texas is weathering a prolonged season of underachievement, turmoil, and uncertainty on the heels of a decade-plus run of tremendous success. With Dodds’ departure looming, one can only wonder where the new CEO of University of Texas Athletics will stand in terms of renewing the annual rivalry with A&M.
Should the University of Texas and Texas A&M University play again? Hell yes.
All rivalry and no play makes football a dull boy
One of the finest differentiators of college football in relation to its professional sport counterparts is the prevalence, tradition, and passion of the rivalries. The modern day NFL simply does not have rivalries. If they exist, they’re typically contrived and fleeting. College football rivalries span generations. They divide families. They give life to otherwise sterile, docile work environments. Though the game is played only once per year, the rivalry rolls along for the other 364 days.
Texas and Texas A&M will always be rivals – even if they never play another down. Two proud, football-crazed schools separated by 100 miles fighting over scarce resources (recruits, exposure, etc.) can’t help but measure themselves based on what the other is doing. Contrary to what each fan base would say about the opposing school, neither football program “needs” this game. Both programs have enough power and autonomy in their current situations not to require such a match-up.
Yet haven’t we had enough banter and finger pointing? Rivalries are meant to be played annually if only for the release of tension and hate built up over the course of the year. Strapping on the pads and teeing it up is a therapeutic, four hour exercise to quell all the boisterous talk, if only momentarily, in the name of football.
Hate is fun
Can you imagine the buildup if this game renews after all that has transpired over the past couple years? If the Horn vs. Aggie pride wasn’t already simmering enough with ire, you can now factor in Big 12 vs. SEC pride. This historic, storied rivalry would command even more of the nation’s attention than it already does.
I love college football more than anything mostly because of the hate. There is absolutely nothing like the atmosphere of a rivalry game. And it is just that – a game. Games are supposed to be fun. While I love the new digs over in the SEC, we just don’t have the history of disdain with any of our new annual opponents. While the perpetual self-asskissing in the SEC is a delight, sometimes it’s nice to square off with an opponent you have always loathed. You’re supposed to play the teams you dislike. Isn’t that the point of sports?
This is not some newfangled concept
Plenty of instate rivals competing in different leagues find a way to play annually. Florida-Florida State. Iowa-Iowa State. Georgia-Georgia Tech. South Carolina-Clemson. Hell, the Georgia vs. Georgia Tech game is called “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” and it is beautiful.
I don’t care when the game is slotted on the schedule. It seems as though we’ll be eating Cajun food on Thanksgiving for the foreseeable future, so schedule Texas elsewhere. Point is, not playing this game due to scheduling conflicts is a weak excuse.
College football needs this game
I’m hopeful that the advent of the College Football Playoff will incentivize programs to play more robust non-conference schedules. One loss (or two) doesn’t have to derail a team’s goal of making the four-team playoff (which most certainly will expand).
Realignment has put a strain on many rivalries in college football. Through aggressive and creative scheduling, these rivalries can be preserved to maintain college football’s greatness.
Sure, by scheduling Texas in lieu of say, Sam Houston State, you drop the annual gimme win from the ledger. I get that. I’m also not into pussyfooting around into what would be the most hurdle-free schedule for Texas A&M. If that was A&M’s M.O. it would have joined the American Athletic Conference and gotten fat and giggly on creampuffs.
The current state of Texas and Texas A&M relations is bitter, resentful, accusatory, and spiteful. Feelings have been hurt, momentums have shifted, and the potential stage has never been greater. That sounds like a pretty damn good recipe for an annual football game to me.
So long, DeLoss. With you out of the picture, we’re one step closer to getting this game back.
Stop Letting Your Obsession With Texas Blind You From What's Best For Texas A&M
By OrionHjarvis, goodbullhunting.com podcast host / recruiting analyst
With the news breaking today that University of Texas Athletic Director Deloss Dodds will be stepping down, social media exploded with Aggies discussing this being the first stepping stone to renewing the Lone Star Showdown. I wish I could disagree, but the truth is, that is 100% correct. What I can disagree with, are the Aggies that do want to renew this rivalry. Believe me when I say this: Texas A&M football has nothing to gain by playing the University of Texas any more. Do Aggie fans? Sure. But the value of the game is limited to selfish, individual pride for some fans boasting around the water cooler at work or at family gatherings. With Texas off the schedule, look how the Aggies have benefited on the field.
Increased National Relevance
After all, isn't that why the Fightin' Texas Aggies moved to the SEC in the first place? We didn't care for our position at the table and decided to leave home for greener pastures. Let the Longhorns wallow in the mess they created that is the new Big 12 conference. Take a look at their schedule this year. How many games do you see with any hint of national relevance? I'll give you a hint: ONE. The Aggies however, have rekindled regional rivalries with two old foes in Arkansas and LSU. Not to mention playing in the biggest college football game of the season two years running with new SEC West Division rival, Alabama. Throw in match-ups against historical powerhouses Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee every few years for the Aggies and tell me which school in the Lone Star State will have more exposure on a regional, and much more importantly, a national stage.
For the first time in almost two decades, Texas A&M is winning more recruiting battles with Texas than they're losing. Does winning with the best player in the country, Johnny Manziel, help? Of course, but the main factor in this drastic change in momentum is that the majority of top talent in this state wants to play in the best conference, against the best competition. Now while adding Texas to the schedule wouldn't change the Aggies still playing in the SEC, it would give the Longhorns the chance to dramatically change recruiting momentum in their favor with a couple of victories over A&M on the field. Beating up on the Techs and Baylors of the Big 12, if that even happens this year, is not going to accomplish that.
With the change in conference realignment, the biggest benefit to Texas A&M was the chance to establish a new identity. No longer are Aggies seen as "little brothers" to the Longhorns, but as their own program on a trajectory to join college football's elite. While rivalries are what make this game the best in the world, the Aggies have upgraded by sacrificing their longest and biggest one. The Aggies replaced regional rivalries with match-ups that have a far broader reach than the borders of Texas. Texas A&M has used all of this, in only under two years, to completely seize momentum in this state as the premier program. With only one relevant game each season, the Longhorns need a way to quickly take back some of that momentum. From an Aggie's perspective, I'm not sure it's in our football program's best interest to risk that for simple bragging rights at work. Stop obsessing over beating Texas because it's what you've done you're whole life. We've moved on to bigger and better things and it's time to obsess over new challenges, namely the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers.
The Fightin' Texas Aggies are better off without the Texas Longhorns. The same cannot be said about our former rivals in Austin. Let's keep it that way.