COLLEGE STATION, Texas – It has been said that all good things must come to an end, and that reigned especially true Thursday night in Texas – a place where football is considered a religion by many. The long-standing Texas (Longhorns)-Texas A&M (Aggies) rivalry came to end with a thrilling, last-second field goal by the Longhorns to seal the deal on bragging rights for many years to come with a 27-25 win over the Aggies in College Station.
One of the oldest rivalries in college football, the two teams met for the 118th time on Thanksgiving; the rivalry dates back to 1894, with Texas holding the winning record at 76-37-5.
The end of the era comes as the Aggies sought out and accepted an invitation to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in 2012, after the Longhorns landed a $300 million deal from ESPN to launch the Longhorn Network.
Though the very essence of rivalry is one of hatred and angst, a rare, but beautiful moment was had between the two teams during the 1999 season when the two teams became brothers, if only for a short time. On November 18, 1999, 59-foot logs that were set up in College Station for the annual bonfire held before each Texas-Texas A&M game collapsed, killing 12 A&M students.
On the A&M campus, a bonfire memorial service was held both at the site of the collapse, and at the A&M Reed Arena. Meanwhile, 100 miles west, the Longhorns canceled their annual Aggie Hex Rally and instead held a tribute to the fallen Aggies at the Texas State Capitol. The bells on the school tower rang out in tribute, and the Longhorn band played The Spirit of Aggieland.
Eight days after the tragedy, the two schools met in College Station to play ball. Before the game, 12 white doves were released and four F-16 jets, piloted by A&M graduates, did a flyover in the missing-man formation. The Longhorn band played Amazing Grace at halftime, allowing a time of remembrance. A&M flags flew high, alongside UT’s – a moment of unity rarely seen between the two schools. The Aggies would go on to win 20-16 in incredible, last-minute fashion.
So while many fans across the state, and the country, are saddened by the end of the most storied rivalry in Texas’ history, we can look back at a time when the two teams joined together and remember the brotherhood that only sports can bring.
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