The Battle Of The Brazos
October 13, 2011 6:25 am, CST

By: C.T. Steckel

The all male yell-leaders taking a break from push-ups during Midnight Yell.

Longstanding Series Could See It’s Final Game On Saturday

To say that the Baylor Bears don’t like the Texas A&M Aggies would be a gross understatement of epic proportions.   To acknowledge that the Aggies don’t like the Bears would be accurate, but the A&M faithful will always believe that a win over the University of Texas means much more.  But despite the difference in disdain, the end of an era could be upon us, and neither side may realize exactly what’s at stake.

Perhaps it started way back in 1926, when Texas A&M cadets mounted a cannon on a train with the intent of marching on and bombarding Baylor. That’s when an A&M cadet, Charles M. Sessums, died from injuries incurred in a fight at halftime of the Aggies and Bears game in Waco.  Members of the Corps of Cadets were so upset, they returned to College Station, mounted a cannon on a flatbed rail car, commandeered an engine and were going to attack the Baylor campus. However, as the story goes, the Texas Rangers caught wind of the event and sent a Ranger to confiscate the cannon just outside of College Station.  Maybe that unsuccessful mission is why the Bears have always referred to the A&M Corps as a fake army.

Or maybe it’s because back in the day A&M was an all-male school, and the closest college institution with females was Baylor. Many an Aggie dated a Baylor coed. Nothing says feud like stealing women from a bunch of young, primed for life college men (albeit ones saving themselves for marriage).  Leave it to legendary Baylor football coach Grant Teaff to sum up the times, “There was a great deal of resentment from Baylor boys on campus because they weren’t any girls at A&M. The Aggies would come here and grab the Baylor beauties. That has something to do with the feud.”

And Baylor wins the cheerleading competition.

Sure, Baylor students annually covered A&M’s statue of Sul Ross with green paint.  Even former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was expelled from Baylor after he was in part found painting one of A&M’s buildings green.  As history tells us, that wasn’t the first or last time he would be entangled in controversy.

But no prank compares to the story of the stolen Bears’ mascot deciding he didn’t want to reside in College Station. During the 1950s, two Aggies captured the mascot, having driven from College Station to Waco in the family car of one of the students. But on the way back, they had to set the mascot free when the bear became terrified inside the vehicle, which had a leather interior. “They made it to Marlin (about 20 miles from Waco) when that little bear completely ripped the inside out of the car, which was brand new,” Baylor archivist Tommy Turner Sr., said. “That’s how the two were caught. They had to take the car to get the inside redone.”  I’m still not sure who had the last laugh.

On the surface the schools are only separated by 90 miles, but the Brothers on the Brazos share more than the just the river they sit on, they’ve always been the redheaded stepchildren when it comes to the University of Texas.  In more than a century, that hasn’t changed.  Rather than gang up against UT, they’ve chosen to beat each other up instead.

I sampled some friends who went to both A&M and Baylor this week to get a taste of how the fan bases really felt about each other.  Asked to describe the other in one word or phrase that was publishable, here are the responses that flowed in via text:

Baylor fans on A&M: obnoxious, hyper traditionalists, delusional, dudes that wear starched and pressed pleated jeans, adult boy scouts… and finally… ‘male yell leaders – that says it all.’

A&M fans on Baylor: overrated, whipping boys, goody two-shoes, bottom feeders, dudes that tailgate in a closet… and finally this little nugget that was almost too long to count as a phrase… ‘hope you enjoyed that 16-year wait – for the Houston Bowl.’

So, as you can see, the disrespect runs deep.

Baylor must find a way to slow down Christine Michael and fellow RB Cyrus Gray. AP Photo/Brandon Wade

Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 and headed to compete in the SEC next year.  It’s interesting move, set in motion by the newly created Longhorn Network, a television deal that will bring $300 million and exposure that the Aggies simply can’t compete with.  On the flip side, Baylor has been trying desperately for the last six months to hold the Big 12 together, going as far as threatening to sue the Aggies for breach of contract.  It was a desperate move in a desperate moment, but now that the dust has settled, and the Aggies are gone despite the fact the Big 12 will live on, reality has arrived.  This could be the final time the two teams ever meet on the gridiron.

The 108th edition of the Battle of the Brazos has plenty of intriguing storylines. Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1), which has won 18 of 20 from Baylor since the teams played to a tie back in1990, will be tested all day in the secondary. The Aggies are surrendering an FBS-worst 347.6 passing yards per game, and face Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin III, who has completed a nation-leading 80.3 percent of his passes and ranks second in country with a 212.9 passer efficiency rating.  Not to mention, Griffin has rolled up 1,520 yards through the air while completing 19 touchdowns, offset by just one interception.

The Bears (4-1, 1-1), who are the only school in the FBS averaging at least 300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards,  got healthy last week by defeating Iowa State 49-26 after a heartbreaking loss on the road at Kansas State.  Griffin threw for a season-low 212 yards and one touchdown but ran for a season-best 107 yards and another score. Fifth-year senior Terrance Ganaway was a man on a mission, compiling a career-high 200 yards on the ground and three scores.

Texas A&M is also coming off its first conference victory of the season, defeating Texas Tech 45-40 on the road last Saturday as Ryan Tannehill threw for 188 yards and accounted for three touchdowns – two on the ground. Senior Cyrus Gray posted the 13th 100-yard game of his career, compiling 116 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Christine Michael added 52 and another score.

But perhaps the biggest number in the game is this: since defeating the Aggies 20-16 on Oct. 20, 1984, Baylor has gone 0-11-1 at College Station. Kyle Field is notorious for its raucous crowd and energy. Baylor would love nothing more then to win in what could be it’s last ever trip down Highway 6 since the series began back in 1899.

Regardless of the outcome, I’m not sure either side knows exactly how much they’ll miss the other.  Sometimes that happens in life, when you wake up one day and realize that neighbor who drove you crazy, is suddenly gone.

Follow C.T. Steckel on twitter @ctsteckel

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