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Rice MOB vs. Texas A&M: A Rivalry Renewed?

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The Rice MOB is coming to College Station on Saturday, but will they march?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Rice's MOB scatter band is returning to Kyle Field on Saturday. I don't know the exact year they last visited College Station, but I've never seen the MOB in person. As someone who is into irreverence, I'd watched MOB performances on YouTube and enjoyed a lot of stories on TexAgs. I want to see the MOB do their thing, but alas they will supposedly not perform at halftime, serving instead as a spirit band. If you have different information, let us know.

Update: from aggeek78 in the comments "I have one daughter in The MOB, one in the FTAB. The MOB will be on the field @ half-time tomorrow."

Some of the wounds opened by the MOB seem to still fester among older Aggies, so I felt compelled to dig into the history a bit. Here are some videos and newspaper accounts of the most controversial clashes between the MOB and Texas A&M.

1973

The most infamous incident between the MOB and Aggies occurred on November 17, 1973 in Houston. A halftime performance that involved Nazi goosestepping and Reveille jokes incited the Aggie students on-hand who would trap the MOB in a stadium tunnel for two hours after the game.

Click here to view the script of the 1973 MOB halftime performance.

Halftime History told by Rice Band Director

The Eagle (Nov 20, 1973)

Rice Issues Apology

Texas A&M's band had not yet received a written apology today from Rice for Saturday's halftime debacle at the Rice-A&M football game, but a public apology had been made by the Houston school via the news media.

"We have received no written apology from the Rice band yet," Major Joe T. Haney, director of the Aggie band said Tuesday morning. "But we planned to take no action anyway."

The Rice band, called "The Mob," did an on-the-field imitation of the A&M Marching band Saturday, playing an off-tune version of the Aggie fight song and marched, World War II German-style, but out of time and step.

The Owl band also gave a salute to the Aggie mascot, Reveille, by forming a fire plug on the field. Choice tidbits of explanations over the public address system also incensed the Aggies.

Police had to restrain the Aggie cadet corps from running onto the field to attack the Rice band. Following the game, the Rice band huddled under the south end of the stadium two hours while irate Aggies milled about waiting for the band to leave.

"We certainly did not intend any offense to Aggie traditions last Saturday," said Rice Band Director Bert Roth in an apology. "But if our presentation was offensive to anyone, we wish to extend our a sincere and genuine apology."

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Nov 23, 1973)

The Need to Laugh by Jay Harris

The furor over the antics of the Rice University band may have been just a bit overdone, we think.

The Mob, as the Rice musicians have dubbed themselves, has kept Houston area football fans in stitches, or up in arms as the case may be, this season with some very unorthodox halftime shows.

From a salute to Edna's Chicken Farm, to tossing bananas into the stands and poking fun at Darrell Royal's auto sponsor, the Rice Mob last week really stirred things up.

The Mob made fun of the proud Aggie Marching Band, and worse, its mascot, Reveille.

The Rice bandsmen wore sloppy campaign hats, goosestepped and finally formed a fire hydrant, the latter in "honor" of Reveille.

All of this led to some words, a blow or two and the fact that Houston police had to guard the Rice musicians in their dressing room for two hours after the game to protect them from the irate Aggie students.

Later, the Rice band director and drum major apologized to the Texas A&M band.

Pardon me, but I don't think that was necessary.

First off, one of the highest compliments one can receive is to be copied or parodied. Coach Royal thoroughly got a kick out of the wheels coming off "his car," as depicted by the Rice Mob. The Aggies should have followed his example.

We have said it before and go on record again... We think the Aggie Marching Band is one of the really great musical aggregations in America today.

We get a spine-tingling thrill every time the smartly-stepping bandsmen go into that big Texas A&M "T" and head down the field, playing the stirring Aggie War Hymn.

But, we also think this country – and college football – can use a little humor along the way. It's a pretty scarce and valuable commodity. The Aggies are a great bunch. But they ought to realize that people seldom joke in a good humored way about those they do not genuinely love and respect. Nuff said.

1975

Following rumors that the MOB would stage a funeral for Reveille III, Rice decided not to poke the Aggies again in 1975.

The Eagle (Nov 2, 1975)

Question - I want to know if the Rice Band is still spoofing other schools during its halftime shows. Does it have anything planned for the Rice-A&M game in Houston this Nov. 15?

Action Line checked with two Rice band members who confirmed various rumors that Rice will indeed try to "spoof" A&M again this year. The band earlier this season "spoofed" Texas University at their game in Austin and was embroiled in a controversy in September over its "spoof" of the Domed Stadium during its game with Houston University there.

The two Rice bandsmen wouldn't confirm the rumor that they will stage a "funeral" for Reveille III on Nov. 15, but they would not deny the rumor, either. Whatever they do, the expected crowd of 55,000, mostly Aggies, are less likely to be as restrained as they were two years ago when Rice made fun of American and Aggie traditions by Nazi goose-stepping and playing a poor imitation of the Aggie War Hymn.

The Rice mob did not appear at Kyle Field last year, citing the cost of travel to CS as its excuse.

Associated Press (Nov 14, 1975)

Rice Band to Leave Ags Alone, No Repeat Performance for MOB

Houston (AP) - The Rice University band has decided that poking fun at the Aggies of Texas A&M can be harmful to your health.

Two years ago the band, called the MOB for "Marching Owl Band," provided a show of Aggie satire during halftime of the Texas A&M-Rice football game.

The show caused a near-riot, with members of the Texas A&M cadet corps attacking the bandsmen and holding members of the MOB under siege for two hours. Squads of policemen finally rescued the band.

The Aggies play the Owls Saturday at Rice Stadium, but the MOB has decided not to risk a repeat of the last A&M visit to Houston.

"The band members realized that anything like that would be in bad taste and possibly harmful to their bodies," said drum major Mike Fowler a Rice junior from Canton, Ohio.

Fowler said Rice president Norman Hackerman "suggested" several weeks ago that the Aggies might be a good subject to avoid in MOB's halftime show.

The bite of the MOB's satire was so feared, apparently, that Texas A&M president Jack Williams called Hackerman several weeks ago.

Hackerman said Williams was worried about a rumor that the MOB was planning a spoof of the recent funeral of Reveille, the Aggie mascot.

"I told him it wasn't true," Hackerman said.

MOB director Bert Roth said Hackerman asked him "to be reasonable" in planning the halftime show and Roth reassured him.

"We realize that to spoof A&M would be a very grave mistake," said Roth. "We don't want to provoke an incident."

The Aggies are not the only ones to take offense at the MOB's satirical broadsword.

During a recent Rice game in the Astrodome, the MOB joked about the building now being the "world's smallest enclosed stadium" since the Superdome opened in New Orleans.

The joking so upset Astrodome officials that the script was seized during the middle of the show.

The MOB has presented spoofs during the halftime shows at the University of Texas and at Southern Methodist and received only laughs. There were no incidents either time.

Fowler said the band may not spoof the Aggies, but the MOB will still get the final laugh at Saturday's halftime. The band, he said, will poke fun at itself.

"It will be the exact same satire that we did two years ago (at the Aggie game), except that the roles will be reversed," Fowler said. "In essence, it's a bigger tongue-in-cheek poke at the Aggies because it indicates we have a broader sense of humor than they do."

1981

On October 24, 1981, Texas A&M played Rice in Houston. Rumors abound that during the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band's halftime performance, the MOB blew whistles to distract and disorient the marchers. There are several conflicting accounts of what happened that day.

Associated Press (Oct 28, 1981)

Aggie band mistake fools fans

College Station (AP) - Texas A&M University's band wasn't trying to mimick Rice's MOB when the usually precise marching unit fell into disarray during last weekend's halftime show, a school official says. They just fell out of step.

Many spectators at Saturday's A&M-Rice game thought the Aggies were spoofing Rice's irreverent band, the MOB, while attempting to form the traditional "blocked T." But A&M spokesman Lane Stephenson said it was a real mistake.

"Four men made their turn five yards too soon and because of the intricacies of the drill, the mistake was impossible to correct," Stephenson said. "The exercise ended in a melee."

In 1973 the MOB mocked A&M's drills by goosestepping around the field and angered students and alumni. In an effort to salve ruffled feelings, A&M President Frank Vandiver directed the MOB during its halftime show.

The Waco Citizen (Nov 6, 1981)

AGGIE BAND MIX-UP

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the Aggie Band got out of step... well it happened last week when they played Rice and Aggies and their supporters are very upset.

Someone in "The Mob" (Rice Band) figured out the whistle code signals of the Aggie Band and as the band spread from the 30 to the 30 markers on the field a whistle blew and about twenty marchers in the corner turned and went the wrong way. They discovered they were out of step and tried to rejoin the group but this caused them to run into the other band members. Finally the whole band was out of step and there was utter chaos among the marchers. The drum major was still blowing his whistle for the band to go into the fight song and leave the field not realizing what was happening behind him. Suddenly he turned around and after the initial shock, blew his whistle and the band stopped playing and marching and walked off the field instead of their usual run.

We love the Aggies... but would have liked to have been a witness to this. The Mob has a way of tormenting or mimicking bands in the Southwest Conference.

Jim Melton BQ '82

Well, the semi-official rumors are that the Rice students were blowing whistles in the stands and that messed things up. But (as a bandsman) you should know that most of our drills are simply follow the leader. In this case, one of the Bugle rank (name escapes me at the moment, and I really don't think it is important) started to make the move into block band about 10 yards early. He quickly recovered, but then did it again 5 yards later. This time he took another rank with him. The rest of us tried to make the move to block band at the correct time, but it couldn't be done. Needless to say, the two halves of the band could never come back together.

Gary Merka, B-Co BQ '82

I don't remember hearing a lot of stray whistles from the stands as some have reported hearing. My own personal opinion of what happened (and this is based on watching a replay of the disaster on the video "Recall, The Story of the Fightin Texas Aggie Band") is that someone on the Bugle Rank, for whatever reason, missed an assignment and then everything went to hell from there.

Carl "Doug" Moore B-Co BQ '82

There was lots of speculation at the time that Rice, somewhat notorious for trying to mess up our drills was blowing whistles or something that encouraged the early turn. It could have been that or any number of things, such as a slip in concentration or misreading the yard line or whatever. Anyway, the whole thing happened so fast - I don't even know how long it took the drum majors to realize the problem - it may have been immediate or it may have been 20 seconds or more.

1989

Yell Leaders Apprehend Mocking Owl Mascot

In this video, Rice's mascot starts out on the top of the screen walking back and forth with the Aggie Band.

2011

Texas A&M's SEC Move (MOB at Texas)

So there you have it. If you have any personal stories about the MOB, be sure to drop them in our comments section below.