October 7th, 2000. The Aggies had won something like 22 consecutive home games. The Colorado Buffaloes were a miserable 0-4, and Gary Barnett was in the throes of coaching desperation: threatening to remove the decals from helmets if his team didn’t win. What ensued was a sloppy game mired in miscues. The weather was miserable. The team was flat, and that influenced the crowd. It seemed almost unthinkable at the time that we could look this bad playing at home against a winless team after not losing a game there in four years. It was alarming.
October 29th, 2005. Losing at home was no longer an aberration. But getting schooled out behind the woodshed by Iowa State was something else altogether. We made a decent receiver on a team in the bottom tier of the Big 12 look like a Heisman winner for a day. People were seeing Todd Blythe hauling in touchdowns in their fevered nightmares for years afterward. Kyle Field’s mystique had been dead for a while. This was the day where its dried and desiccated remains were exhumed and defiled.
October 11th, 2014. This was supposed to be where it started to turn around. This team was capable of brilliant play and had climbed all the way to #6 before getting shitcanned in Starkville by eventual #1-ranked MSU. But we were still ranked 14th after that and hosting #3 Ole Miss. It was the very first SEC game at Kyle Field after the $450 million overhaul. There had been EXPENDITURES, so By God, there’d better be RETURNS. Well, how’s this for returns: Ole Miss scored twice on defense: one interception return and one fumble return. Bo Wallace did the rest as he calmly picked the Aggies apart. It was 21-0 Ole Miss at halftime, but the building was completely deflated well before that. It was an egg-laying of the highest order on the biggest stage when a win was needed the most, and was probably the first nail in Kevin Sumlin’s coffin as Aggie coach.
The harsh reality is that we have been riding the coattails of the mystique of Kyle Field for a very long time. There have been huge and exciting moments: Alabama 2013 was full of them. There have been exciting wins, like Tennessee and UCLA in 2016. There have even been glimpses of the old mystique; fleeting moments: Texas 2007, Nebraska and Oklahoma 2010.
But there hasn’t been anything approaching that aura of surreal magic that used to infuse The Hate Barn in nearly two decades. Nebraska 1998. Texas 1999. These were emotional triumphs where the building seemed to come to life for the entirety of the game, the crowd breathing life into the action. Where there was channeled and focused rage and raw primal energy flowing from the stands into the atmosphere, feeding the players on the field. Electric emotions pulsing through the currents of air that are channeled through the concrete canyon of Kyle Field. There has been something hampering that total kind of supernatural takeover for too many years: the seeds of doubt and uncertainty lurking in the back of the collective mind of the 12th Man. Well-justified doubt created by so many disappointments.
There’s only one way to erase those doubts and begin rebuilding the legacy of the Hate Barn: knock off a perennial powerhouse in a huge night game at home. Get raucous well before kickoff and ride that buzz of excitement all the way through into the small hours of the morning after the final whistle blows. This coach has never had one of those trademark disappointing wins at home. He doesn’t care about our superstitions or our lingering doubts. His job, his very well-compensated job, is to erase all of that. And he’s proven to be very good at his job.
This is our chance to breathe life back into the aura of Kyle Field as a formidable place for opponents to play. Let’s make some noise and give it some kick, folks. Saturday nights were made for this.