Texas Longhorns Football: The case against playing on Thanksgiving

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

A new era of Longhorn Football will debut in 2014 and it is time to do away with a tattered tradition as well.

Around the office here at BC I prefer to think of myself as the patriarch of tradition. The standard bearer of UT heritage and fighter for the historical benchmarks representing the Longhorn Legacy. Don't even get me started on uniform changes.

Others (I'm looking at you vasherized) consider me a fossilized dinosaur that must be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century of Texas Football.

However there is one Longhorn tradition that has to be done away with.

We need to stop playing on Thanksgiving.

Texas A&M has left the building.

Like any other Longhorn fan older than Justin Bieber, the Texas-Texas A&M game is a part of my longhorn memory bank. I also believe that like many of my (older) generation, it was never the game circled on the schedule. That was reserved for OU. My simplest explanation of the hierarchy of Texas rivals is this:

Texas-OU = Michigan-Ohio State

Texas-Texas A&M = Michigan-Michigan State.

But there is a more compelling reason to stop playing on the holiday than just A&M jumping ship.

The Aggies are in the SEC (and enjoying a real media boost, which I will write about tomorrow), but even if there were a suitable replacement for a Thanksgiving game, it is counterproductive to the overall health of the program to continue to play on the holiday. There is no reason to try and manufacture some kind of "rivalry game" to fit into the Thanksgiving slot.

The NFL has made it foolish for any college rivalry involving elite teams to play on Turkey Day. Like just about everything else on the national scene, the NFL has co-opted the holiday and they do not plan to give it back.

The two college games played on Thanksgiving this year were basically watched by family and close friends.

Mississippi State defeated Mississippi 17-10 on ESPN - with 1.64 million viewers tuning in. Texas raced past Texas Tech 41-16 while barely more than 1 million (1.03M) tuned in on Fox Sports 1.

Back in ancient times, the viewing options on Thanksgiving were minimal. The Green Bay Packers would play the Detroit Lions and then later in the day Texas and Texas A&M would take over the airwaves. Then the Dallas Cowboys became "America's Team, " and the NFL added the Cowboys to the afternoon lineup.

Now the NFL has a tripleheader across its three over-the-air partners and they own the day. This year's games pulled in ratings that dwarf anything a college game could pull.

Green Bay vs. Detroit             28.3 Million      CBS

Dallas vs. Oakland                  31.7 Million      FOX

Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore        21.1 Million      NBC

The only college game during the BCS era to have more viewers than the Dallas-Oakland game this year was the Texas-USC championship game.

The idea that Texas needs to have a game on Thanksgiving - and bully the league into making sure that it is always in Austin - is nonsensical.

Next year, in a fit of pique directed at their former neighbor, Texas A&M has pushed for playing LSU on Thanksgiving in College Station. Should they double the audience that tuned into this years SEC game on Turkey Day it will still be a couple million less than watched A&M play Rice this year.

LSU wants no part of this and will schedule the Aggies on the Friday after Thanksgiving at home. It's a smart move, because it is a day that belongs to college football.

Athletics Director Steve Patterson should remove this out-of-date tradition and move into a new era.

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