The strangest thing is happening to me right now. I want Texas A&M to beat Florida. I’m pulling for the Aggies.
I’m not actively rooting for Texas A&M. I’m not yelling at the screen, arguing with the televised referees or diving on the living room carpet in an attempt to recover fumbles. In fact, I’m not even actively watching the game. I went to the gym and the game was on and then I turned it on while I cleaned up, but now I’m typing this essay at a coffee shop. Though I am tracking the game on an internet scoreboard.
Wait. It might not be clear why this is strange. Or maybe it is. But in case it’s not, I’ll clarify. There is no team, certainly in college football and perhaps in all of sports, that I have despised more over the last 30 years than the Texas A&M Aggies. When they threatened and then carried through with their threat to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, I swore them off. I vowed not to spend a dollar in College Station for the next 10 years.
But I don’t feel that way to today. I’m not going to be heartbroken if the Aggies lose to the Gators. I won’t even be upset. But I still want Texas A&M to win. If you are reading this and you are disgusted by my revelation, I don’t blame you. That’s why it’s so shocking to me.
Here are my three best guesses as to why this is happening:
- I no longer view Texas A&M as a threat or rival, so there’s no basis for wanting the Aggies to lose. Furthermore, because the Aggies are still technically from Texas, I want them to represent our state well, especially in the supposed-God’s-gift-to-football SEC. And I like Kevin Sumlin.
- With everyone (other than the Aggies) in Central Texas predicting disaster for the Aggies in the SEC, I made a bet with two friends. I win if Texas A&M wins more than six games. They win if the Aggies win less than six. If Texas A&M wins six, it’s a push. This is an automatic double for me because there are two of them and one of me. The stakes by the way: a six pack of beer per win or loss over or under six. It should be noted that I made this bet out of a sinking feeling that all the gloomy predictions of the Aggies’ dismal failure in the SEC would back fire.
- Texas A&M has always felt more like an SEC school. Two years ago, I was walking down the street in St Andrews, Scotland, when I bumped into my friend Jack Willoughby on a day when the talk of four schools from the Big 12 splitting for the Pac-10 was at fever pitch. We were probably the only two people who lived in St Andrews at the time who were thinking about this subject so we discussed it. Willoughby didn’t like it. He said he always thought of his Aggies — Willoughby is a Texas A&M graduate and the owner of the best pub in St Andrews, Scotland as mentioned in my book “In The Burn” which is available for purchase by clicking on the link to the right of this essay — as more of an SEC-type school. Well, yeah, obviously. Texas A&M was more like an SEC school even before there was a Big 12. The Aggies probably should have gone to the SEC with Arkansas. So I guess watching the Aggies play Florida is like watching a labrador retriever swim. It’s an animal in its natural element.
Decide for yourself which reason is the real one, but here’s what I suspect. No. 1 is probably the most true even though No. 2 seems the most likely, but I hope No. 3 is the real reason, because it’s the most positive reflection of my inner motivation.
Photo via Jessica Frey Photography.