I want to take the pulse on this. Herman said he’d like to play the Aggies at the recent Big 12 media days. The extent to which that is posturing for the media (generally a coach isn’t going to respond “No, I won’t play Team X, I’m actually quite fearful”) or an actual goal is unknown, but Herman seemed pretty sincere. The question is whether he actively pushes for it with a caretaker Athletic Director.
There are more than a few folks who will need to sign off on it to make it happen. But what about the fans?
On the Longhorn side, the fan perspective was resoundingly “hell no” in the wake of A&M’s departure and their administration’s disingenuous misrepresentations about the whats and whys of why they did so back in 2011. Since then, the SEC’s intrusions into Texas - multi-factorial in origin and predictable as they were - also hasn’t made us too thrilled. The 2017 Thinking Texas Football Longhorn preview has a pretty damn good write up on that point, if I don’t mind saying so myself.
Here’s why the Aggies did it: The SEC was a great deal. Full stop.
Everything else - Texas is mean, revenue sharing fictions, the LHN, a cabal of Burnt Orange media and national sympathizers holding A&M down etc - was self-rationalizing nonsense for a fanbase that embraces martyrdom and breathes victimhood like oxygen, at least as it pertains to Texas.
Since then, I think the Don’t Play A&M stance has softened a bit. At least among some Longhorn faithful. In my experience, there’s a bit of disconnect between larger pocket book alumni (more for it) and the regular folks (more against it). But I don’t know. We’re all susceptible to echo chambers and I’d like to hear different voices.
The Aggies are generally for renewing the game. The game has traditionally formed an integral part of their identity and its absence has made some hearts grow fonder. They’ve lost a shared rallying point and cultural touchstone. And some of the disappointments in the wake of the Manziel bubble have made them cast about for a rallying point.
I argued in 2011 that the SEC move was good for the Aggies. Not just in athletics. Not just because the Big 12 is a bad, futureless conference. Because it allowed them to formulate an identity outside of being reflexively anti-Texas. Part of A&M’s normalization and their transformation from parochial military school to respected state university has been cultivating an Aggie identity that has nothing to with us and everything to do with them. This was a continuation of that evolution. It’s healthy for them.
Maybe bringing back the game is harmless good fun.
Or maybe it confirms Texas as a forgiving, complacent patsy that never wields any of the power it claims to hold and will always sell out its fanbase for a dollar and recasts Texas A&M back in their role as sniping, resentful little brother, a part that they should have long outgrown.