Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Battle of the Brazos goes out with a bang
By David Ubben
For the main characters in the final chapter of the Battle of the Brazos on Saturday, perhaps it just hasn't set in yet.
Texas A&M and Baylor have played 107 times, dating back to the first meeting in 1899.
Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman has been involved in 11 of them in some form or another. For him, at least one name immediately came to mind.
"I go back when [former Bears linebacker] James Francis was there and all the Baylor greats. We seem to play them every single year and they have some more right now with their quarterback and some of their other players," Sherman said. "It’s always been a great rivalry for A&M and Baylor, I believe. It’s a game we look forward to."
Terrance Ganaway is limited as a receiver but still has something to offer.
"When I graduate from here and have kids and keep up with it, which I will, and come back, it will be a rivalry to me," he said. "But right now it’s a one-game series with Baylor and A&M. That’s what I’m excited about. My family will come back. Then it’s a rivalry."
Except for the fact that these long-time rivals located 90 miles apart from one another may not meet again for a long, long time.
Factor 1: Texas A&M is leaving for the SEC.
Factor 2: Baylor tried to do any and everything to stop it.
The Aggies looked on their way out. The Big 12 was crumbling with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech weighing a move to the Pac-12.
Baylor went into self-preservation mode.
The SEC's presidents met in early September and voted to accept Texas A&M. An announcement would follow shortly after.
That is, if not for that message. Before the meeting, Baylor notified the SEC that it wouldn't be waiving its right to legal action.
Translation: "Life is going to get difficult for us if you leave and the Big 12 breaks up. So, if you leave, we're suing for damages."
Weeks later, the Big 12 stabilized. The Pac-12 elected not to expand, and TCU joined the Big 12. The Horned Frogs joined eight other teams in the league, sans Missouri, to commit their Tier I and Tier II media rights to the league for six years.
Texas A&M officially announced their move for the SEC in late September. The Bears never officially stood down, but the Big 12's stabilization significantly lowered the probability that the Aggies' exit would be closely followed by a lawsuit.
The boiling anger between Highway 6 that separates Waco and Texas A&M has simmered.
But only a little. Two-plus weeks of frustration and angst over when the move would be official gets under the skin easily.
"We’re just, we’re going to play a football game," Baylor coach Art Briles said.
Maybe so. But it's a lot more, too. If Briles or his players forget, I trust the Aggie faithful at Kyle Field on Saturday will remind them.
And for this rivalry's end, you couldn't ask for a better matchup.
The Battle of the Brazos has been played 100 times without two ranked teams. This is the seventh time both will be inside the Top 25.