It happened sometime late Sunday morning. It was definitely hours after the final cannon shot had echoed off the walls of Kyle Field, the stands had emptied, the hands had been shook, the suckers had been punched, and eventually the players had gotten some well earned rest. It was after the beat journos toiled late into the night scrambling to write game recaps they had scrapped and started over seven times during the course of play. And it was after the world that had gone to sleep chuckling about the 7.5 million dollar man’s first loss to LSU and then woke up to a basketball score and proceeded to set social media afire to find out what had happened to result in the Game Of The Year. Sometime after that is when the feeling started to set in.
What started as a little spark that morning started to smolder. As Sunday grew older, servers filled to bursting as thousands poured their rage like gasoline on that flame. The first time I saw a blogger claim that Jimbo Fisher’s cousin (sic) had punched Steve Kragthorpe in the pacemaker, suspicion grew into certainty. Still, I didn’t want to name it out loud for fear it might disappear in a strong breeze. Then Aggies - as they are wont to do online - spent millions of man hours, not celebrating one of the most spectacular games in program history, but rather poring over dozens of shaky grainy cell phone videos gathering evidence to exonerate a nobody. That’s when I knew, and felt it with such a certainty that it physically knocked me back in my chair.
This is a rivalry now.
I’ve spent a month discussing with Aggies on Twitter and in the FMI comments about what constitutes a rivalry and if A&M/LSU met those criteria. I discovered that maybe I have the bar for rivalry set a little higher than most, but still the barest of majorities seemed to agree with me that this border battle that may indeed once have been a true rivalry was at best dormant. It wasn’t just that LSU had a win streak dating back to the nineties, although that was certainly part of it. There was just a lack of fire to this game like someone in Plano trying to make gumbo.
But as the sun sets on Day Three of endless trashing, teeth gnashing, referee bashing, and video hashing the heat in this rivalry has finally returned. Tigers online are still writing thought pieces on referees and lashing out at anyone who talks about the A&M win without the proper amount of hedging and asterisking. They have circled the wagons and gone tribal, just as we would have done were our positions reversed (in fact, I’d argue that Aggies as a whole would be much worse). Whatever the reasons, at least this week LSU hates us. Hate alone does not a rivalry make, but it is certainly a key ingredient.
And how do Aggies feel about their bayou counterparts? You don’t need to be old enough to remember LSU tucking tail and running in the 90’s to have a healthy disrespect for LSU. This new rival has been the beneficiary of decades of benefit of the doubt and favorable spots, but now in the face of one game of questionable calls denounces the conference as though they have been beset upon since the first Tiger donned cleats. We are talking about an opponent that whinges every time that they have a game scheduled during the daylight hours, convinced that the SEC is against them for not acquiescing to their assumed birthright to all night games. Does that level of inexplicable entitlement feel familiar? Shit, you couldn’t make the Aggies feel more at home if you lit a flare tower every time you won. The Aggies fit into the role of foil to those antics like an old boot.
No school will ever come close to the level of history, hijinks, and hate that the Longhorns have in Aggieland. To change that would require ripping out the very roots by which the school was born, demolishing the foundation and building anew on native soil. Someday A&M and Texas will play again, and it will be awesome. But while we wait for that day to come we can at least focus that burning desire on a worthy foe, one that we play every year, a perennial football power that will always stand squarely in our path to a conference championship game. And now, one that really, really fucking hates us.
Gig ‘em, and bthoLSU.