Monday, September 26, 2011

Your Primer To Understand "Aggie Pride"

Perception is a funny thing in sports. When you are not from a part of a country where a certain team or school is a "big deal" to the locals, you don't get a good feel for what it is like when it comes to "opinions on the ground" in that area.

Like with Texas A&M bolting for the SEC, just because Texas had pushed things too far with the Longhorn Network.

Really? That was the final straw? What were the other straws? And seriously, who DOES Texas A&M think they are?

Well, A&M has a mighty high opinion of themselves as a football power, national irrelevance and lack of championships be damned.

To quote Anchorman: "I don't know how to put this, but I'm kind of a big deal."

Ivan Maisel of does an excellent job of getting the rest of us non-Texans up to speed on just what fuels so-called "Aggie Pride."

Through the lean times and the occasional flush ones, the Aggies always had their pride. Them being so full of themselves may have made Aggie jokes resonate to the rest of us. But Aggie pride also fueled an unconquerable optimism that bordered on braggadocio. Aggie players played better, ran faster and tackled harder, whether they did or not. Their fans believed, no matter what the scoreboard said. As the saying goes, Aggies don't lose, they just run out of time. 
It has been that way pretty much since E. King Gill ran out of the stands at the Dixie Football Classic in January 1922 and became the inspiration for the 12th Man. Bryant discovered that spirit in 1954 when he left Kentucky to become the head coach at Texas A&M. Bryant, in his 1974 autobiography "Bear," recounted a conversation he had with Jack Finney, a member of the A&M Athletic Board, before Bryant agreed to come to College Station. 
Bryant: If we could offer a boy the same scholarship deal Texas does, and there were 20 good prospects, how many would we sign? 
Finney: Ten 
Bryant: You mean we would get half? 
Finney: At least. 
"That impressed me because I knew I could win with that," Bryant wrote. "But I didn't know the Aggies then like I know them now. Old Jack was exaggerating. You couldn't get ten. You would be lucky to get one. The chances were you wouldn't get any. Not then." 
That bravado, only false when shoved under the harsh light of reality, is the spirit of Texas A&M. Bryant said something else. "Ten Aggies," he wrote, "can yell louder than a hundred of anybody else.
R.C. Slocum sustained the longest run of success, leading the Aggies to first-place finishes in the Southwest Conference in four consecutive seasons (1991 to 1994, though they were ineligible in '94). That went over so well that the league dissolved soon after.
And the league will surely crumble and fall soon enough after this move by A&M. It's just a matter of time. Which is a shame, because I quite enjoyed the Big 12 in its 2000's heyday. The Vince Young Era at Texas, the Mike Leach shoot-em-out teams at Texas Tech. Oklahoma's national championship team, and then Adrian Peterson's era.

A&M has done well by this move. Regardless of future record and SEC title game appearances, they are now in the "NFL of College Football." That plays very well on recruiting visits. If you are a kid in Texas, you get to stay in state and play close to home, AND get a chance to visit Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa, Gainesville and the like.

They may not get the 10 out of 20 prospects Bear Bryant was led to believe, but I think the number moves decisively up from "one."


  1. As a husband married to someone from Texas, my wife constantly tells me you don't understand the delusion most Aggie fans have. They feel very ardently that they are only 1 year away from the mythical time when all the rest of the world realizes how awesome TAMU is. That next year has been going on for at least a century.

    An A&M fan is essentially the worst parts of Texas. A huge braggart with an oversided ego without any success, but also a huge inferiority complex with its big brother - UT. This drives most of A&M to be completely delusional.

    Also, every year before school starts freshman are required to attend a week long orientation for school. Seems innocent enough until you realize that orientation is really just code for a week long rally course and indoctrination on the Aggieway.

  2. It is often said, for those that are part of the Aggie Spirit, no explanation is necessary, and for those that are not part, no explanation will suffice. That pretty much sums it up.

    It is also often said that the only happy Aggie is an unhappy Aggie, so it will only be a matter of time until Aggie fans are dissatisfied with the move to the SEC.

    As for Chris' post, my only response is that there is no bigger bunch of blowhards than Texas fans. When they win it's always because they're superior, but when they lose it's always because they got screwed. Aggies might be delusional, but at least we're not whiny little be-atches any time we lose.