Texas and Texas A&M are college football’s Steve Perry and Journey. The two sides may have gone their separate ways (pun absolutely intended), but they’ll forever be linked.
When the lights go down on the city of College Station Thanksgiving night 2014, Texas A&M will kickoff against SEC West counterpart LSU. ESPN is broadcasting the 6:30 local time contest, which goes directly head-to-head with Texas vs. TCU on Fox Sports 1.
A holiday centered around eating? Big 12 and SEC football at the same time? Any way you want it, college football fans, that’s the way you need it.
“We are excited ESPN has decided to air this game in prime time on Thanksgiving and the atmosphere with 106,000 fans inside Kyle Field will be electric,” Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement on AggieAthletics.com.
Unfortunately, Hyman did not deliver this news while awkwardly lip-syncing on a loading dock. Still, the message comes through loud and clear: the rivalry rages on without an actual football game.
In the Lone Star State, Thanksgiving Day has long started with the Dallas Cowboys before dinner, with Texas vs. Texas A&M for dessert.
When A&M left for the SEC in 2012, the Longhorns had to find a new holiday partner. And as a result of its split from the rivalry, A&M is breaking Texas’ hold on the day.
I guess Texas was right. America did deserve a better game. MT @McMurphyESPN LSU at Texas A&M Thanksgiving night set for 7:30 p.m, ESPN
— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) June 23, 2014
Certainly A&M–and by extension, SEC–supporters have every reason to chalk this up in the win column. Texas doesn’t own any sort of exclusivity rights to Thanksgiving, and horning in on the Horns’ tradition is one way for A&M to tweak its in-state rival.
But tweaking Texas at all is a reminder that these programs are faithfully intertwined.
To wit, on the same day A&M announced its Thanksgiving night showdown with LSU, splashed across the front page of ESPN.com’s college football section was the headline, “How the Horns Lost Texas.”
The subtext is that through the very early phases of the 2015 recruiting cycle, Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M are manhandling new Texas head coach Charlie Strong’s Longhorns. Rivals.com’s Justin Rowland touches on the subject:
Crazy stats. Texas does not have one in-state commit ranked in Top 30 of state rankings. Florida does not have one in-state ranked in Top 50
— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) June 23, 2014
It’s still much too early to accurately assess Strong’s recruiting efforts. Almost half-a-year remains until National Signing Day 2015, and certainly Strong’s first season actually coaching Texas will influence some local recruits. But in the interim, the recruiting trail has been an extensive of the dormant-but-not-really rivalry, evidenced in A&M’s none-too-subtle commitment hashtag #WRTS: We Run This State.
A return of the actual, on-field rivalry is something most all college football fans would welcome with open arms. But no matter how long Texas and Texas A&M go without actually facing, the rivalry will continue–much as Steve Perry continues to shoot down Journey reunion rumors in 2014, nearly three decades after the band’s break-up.