Saying goodbye to two great Big 12 rivalries
November, 23, 2011
By David Ubben | ESPNDallas.com
Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty ImagesAfter their 118th meeting, Texas A&M is running away from Texas to the SEC.
Texas says, "Sorry, our schedule's booked up."
Turner Gill says the rivalry belongs in the Big 12.
Thursday night, Texas and Texas A&M will play for the 118th time. Only two rivalries have been played more.
It might be the last time. It will be the last time for the foreseeable future.
On Saturday, Missouri and Kansas will meet for the 119th time. Minnesota and Wisconsin are the only teams that have met on more occasions.
Realignment will claim two more victims upon Missouri and Texas A&M's exits to the SEC: Two of the nation's best rivalries.
"It’ll be difficult to ignore. Everybody knows what’s out there," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "It’s all part of it. I think there’s enough things on the table to motivate them. It’s certainly something everybody’s aware of."
That includes players. Here's thoughts from a few that grew up around the rivalry think about the rivalries' existence and ending.
Additional reporting by Carter Strickland of HornsNation.
What's your best memory in this rivalry, whether you played in the game or watched it?
Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M: Growing up as a Longhorn, I just remember how intense these games were. It didn't matter, the rankings didn't play a factor. Every game was just a battle. It was hard-nosed football. So much tradition involved in the game, and that's the main thing.
Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas: Most recently, the one in '08 when Todd Reesing hit Kerry Meier at the end to win the game. I was redshirting, but I was at the game and it was just a crazy, crazy game. One of the better games I've witnessed.
There's quite a bit of hatred between the two schools going back to the Civil War and the battles between the Jayhawkers and Missouri. There's just a lot of hatred between the two schools.
T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri: The one in '07, the big one, was when I started watching because (former MU corner) Carl Gettis was playing and he was my high school teammate. Everybody knows what kind of game that was. That was kind of the start of, when both teams had great seasons, they started calling it the Border Showdown. That was a big game and a fight for No. 1. We got that safety in the end zone on Todd Reesing, and in 2008 they came back and got us, and thats how rivalry's supposed to be, back and forth like that. The '09 game was great, too. We had to win on a last-second field goal.
Are you for or against Texas A&M leaving for the SEC?
Blake Gideon, S, Texas: Against.
Does it matter that they're leaving?
Gideon: It doesn’t matter to me. This is my last year playing them anyway. It’s definitely one of those deals kind of like Nebraska last year that we want to send them off the right way. At Missouri we failed to do that this year.
What did you think when you heard it was probably ending?
Hawkinson: It's something that's gone on for a ton of years now, I'm not even sure how many. Obviously, it's disappointing. I wish it could go on, but we wish them well. It's something I feel like should stay in the Big 12, and they're going to the SEC, so, it's something they're going to just have to deal with if they're not in the Big 12 anymore.
Moe: I don't have any control over that. As far as players go, I think both sides would love to play each other. I can't speak for the administration. I think the administration over there keeps saying it's done if you're not going to be in the Big 12 anymore, but I'm sure players on both sides would love to continue the rivalry and we hope to do that.
Swope: There's so much tradition and history involved, it's going to be tough not to see Texas on the schedule, but it's a fun game. We're going to enjoy this one and we want to go out the right way.
Where you're from [Gilmer, Texas], are there a lot of Aggies?
David Snow, OL, Texas: Let’s just be honest — I’m the only one in my top 10 percent that came here. Everybody else is at A&M. Once they went to the dark side, I haven’t really stayed in that much contact with them. Changing my phone number and stuff.
Is there more pressure to win because it is the last one?
Snow: We have a lot of pressure every week to win, hell we’re Texas. You don’t expect to lose and you don’t want to lose.
Would you call it a nasty rivalry?
Snow: Yeah. I mean certain things happen there. When you hate two people certain cheap shots go on, especially on the other side. Never by us.
What's this rivalry mean to you?
Swope: It's a very personal game for me. I've got a lot of friends that are graduated from Texas or at Texas right now. Growing up in Austin, growing up a Longhorns fan, it's going to be real personal. My dad graduated from Texas. I have friends that go to school there and friends that are players for the other team.
Hawkinson: It's a great sense of pride for not only the university, but for the state of Kansas. It'd be a huge win not only for the university, but for the people that live in Kansas.
Moe: I didn't watch a whole lot of college football growing up, but when I did, it was Missouri-Kansas. It's a pretty special thing. It's been so close. It's almost tied up for the 100-something years we've been playing. It's just fun and something you look forward to. It doesn't matter if either team is bowl-eligible. We might have both gone winless and this game would still be special. It goes back to the Civil War days when it was a lot more serious than it is now.
What will you miss most about it?
Hawkinson: Getting prepared. The week leading up to it, this week, guys come in to practice and they're already excited. It's kind of an easy week to get pumped up for and practice hard for. Especially going up and playing at Arrowhead, it's a great environment, especially with two teams playing against each other with all the hatred toward each other. All that leading up to the game and one you get to the game, just playing in that atmosphere.
Swope: All the tradition and the history in this game. It goes back to the Bonfire and how big this game is and how much history it holds. It's one of those things. Everyone pulls tickets for this game. It's on Thanksgiving. It's a very traditional game being played and they've been doing it for so long, I think I'm just going to miss almost everything about the game.
Moe: If I miss a year of it, that's pretty sad. It's your rival. We had Nebraska, we lost them and we had Kansas. Those were our two big rivals. Now, of course, we'll move to the SEC and we'll kind of have A&M maybe as our new rival or whatever, but I don't know if it's ever going to be the same without Kansas because it has such deep roots, especially the guys on the team from Kansas City. They live in the war zone over there and it's pretty special to them.
I did my best to answer your questions. I've been more or less banned from speaking about Kansas this year, so I couldn't have a whole lot of fun.