Could UT vs. Texas A&M rivalry game return with student-driven push?

Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller #8 misses a catch as University of Texas cornerback Aaron Williams #4 defends during the first half at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller #8 misses a catch as University of Texas cornerback Aaron Williams #4 defends during the first half at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin Student Government sent out an email to the student body Tuesday morning asking for students to weigh-in on whether they’d like to see an annual rival football game between Texas and Texas A&M reinstated.

Students can share their thoughts through the survey in a university-wide referendum Wednesday. In all, 96.71 percent of 7,509 votes said “yes” to bringing back the rivalry game.

UT student Layton Lockett said beforehand he would gladly take the survey. Lockett recounted in detail watching the 2011 game when UT won over A&M in their last rivalry matchup before A&M left for the SEC.

“Oh yes please bring it back, please bring it back!” he exclaimed.

Student body Vice President Micky Wolf said this idea has been in the works for around seven months. Student leaders have met with both university administration and the athletics department who’ve told SGA that rebooting the game would be a possibility. In fact, some of the questions on the survey came directly from questions university leaders told student government they had for the student body.

“If we really bring people together and show people this is uniting of Aggie and Longhorn students, I think it will go a long way toward making the decision makers kind of finalize it and make the decision,” Wolf said.

Wolf himself is a third-generation Longhorn who ran for student government on a platform of bringing back the rivalry game.

“Football was always something that meant a lot to me, it was my first connection as to why I cared about UT,” he said.

“It will kind of be an official record of the student voice on the issue,” Wolf explained, adding that after the survey results are presented, there will be a larger push from student government in collaboration with alumni and students at Texas A&M.

The data from this survey, Wolf explained, will be presented to UT President Greg Fenves as well as UT Athletic Director Mike Perrin.

Student Government is hoping this game will begin by at least the 2025-2026 school year. For the years ahead, both schools are booked with games so it is unlikely a rivalry game could be scheduled prior to 2021.

John Bianco, a spokesperson for UT’s Athletic Department, explained that in order for the game to be possible, both school’s athletics directors would have to find a way to coordinate a game within both of their schedules.

“Mike Perrin has great memories from the rivalry and recognizes the passion, pride and tradition of the game. He believes it will one day eventually be renewed but he doesn’t know when,” Bianco said in an email. He added that UT Athletics has not had any talks about scheduling that rivalry game at this point.

Texas Head Football Coach Tom Herman said Tuesday that he thinks this student-driven effort is significant, but that ultimately the decision will be up to the administrators

“Do I think it will ever happen? Yeah, I do. When? I don’t know. It’s one of the most historic rivalries in college football history,” Herman said.\

History of the Game

The rivalry between Aggies and Longhorn has a heated history that spans more than a century.

“Texas A&M opened as the A&M College of Texas in 1876 and the University of Texas opened in 1883, and officially per the Texas constitution A&M is a branch of the University of Texas, so it automatically set up this rivalry between the two schools,” explained Jim Nicar, an alumnus and historian of UT. Nicar has been researching UT’s history and leading guided campus historical tours for three decades in what he describes as “a hobby that got out of control.”

Nicar said UT started its football team in 1893 and Texas A&M created their team a year later, so the schools have been playing since 1894. In the early days, A&M didn’t have a stadium, so home games for A&M were played in San Antonio, Dallas or Houston.

“In 1911 at the Houston game, UT won but the rivalry was so heated there were some fights and things that broke out in town, afterwards I think people went out and partied and things got out of control,” Nicar said. “And the presidents of both schools decided to call off the game.”

Nicar said the game returned in 1915 after some negotiations and was played at A&M’s new stadium. The next year the game was played at UT. At that game a steer was brought in at half-time and that steer kicked off the tradition of UT’s mascot “Bevo.”

Many major events throughout UT’s history have been student driven, Nicar explained.

“The Texas Union was student driven by and large,” Nicar said. “The building of the stadium — the stadium where they play now — was entirely student driven. In 1923 and 1924 there was an enormous fundraising drive to build the stadium and it was primarily driven by the students.”

Nicar thinks it is fitting that the students would lead the push for the return of the rivalry game.

“Texas and Texas A&M the rivalry is so embedded, not just into the schools cultures to both universities, but to the state as well, to discontinue the game, people would think there’s part of the state that’s missing, some part of the state’s heritage that’s missing,” Nicar said.

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