Tag Archives: Austin

Thanksgiving No Longer a Texas Tradition

In the midst of all the Super Bowl pageantry last week, it was announced that the University of Texas will no longer play football on Thanksgiving Day.

Ok, so maybe it’s just this upcoming season that they are moving the game, for now; but in my opinion, it should be a permanent move. Texas fans have mixed emotions about having the game moved, and there are valid points on either side.

Ever since the game with A&M ended, attendance has gone down and TV ratings have followed. Part of that has to do with the Longhorns not being a very good team, but another part is because the NFL has taken over.

Texas and A&M arguably had the best rivalry in college football and dominated the state on Thanksgiving Day. Even the Dallas Cowboys were put to the back burner at times, depending on whom you talked to. But now, Texas plays either TCU or Texas Tech on the big day.

Who. Cares.

Aside from the loyal fans from each school, who do you expect to watch those games? With the NFL trying to take over Thanksgiving by scheduling big matchups on that day, it was time for Texas to move out.

They will still have a chance to be in the spotlight for a Friday afternoon game, though. You can expect the attendance to rise, especially from the students, and the ratings to increase as well. Texas may be a powerhouse for ratings, but even they can’t compete with the NFL without the help of A&M on Thanksgiving.

Texas Athletic Director Mike Perrin indicated that the move to play on Friday is essentially a trial, and that the game could move back to Thanksgiving Day soon. What a big mistake that would be.

The only way Texas or A&M will be relevant on Thanksgiving Day is if they played each other. That rivalry itself is enough to garner the attention of a big audience, no matter how bad both teams are.

But let’s look at some possibilities that could make the game relevant again, in the event that Texas does still want to play on Thanksgiving Day in the future:

  • Play against A&M. The schools aren’t close to playing each other at this time, but it’s really the best way to make the game on Thanksgiving relevant again.
  • Play a high quality non-conference opponent other than A&M. What if Texas played Notre Dame or Michigan or some other traditional powerhouse on Thanksgiving Day? That’s a game that people would tune in to.
  • Create a rivalry within the current conference. Outside of Oklahoma, Texas really doesn’t have a hated rival. And considering rivalries create themselves, you can’t put your finger on a team and declare a rivalry. That’s what Texas has tried to do with the Tech and TCU experimet, and it hasn’t worked.

So what do all of these have in common? The answer is tradition, or lack of.

People will show up and watch a traditional matchup between storied programs. Tech and TCU don’t do that for Texas. Just like LSU doesn’t do it for A&M. Thanksgiving Day is a tradition itself, so it would only make sense to play the game on that day if it was between two teams rich in tradition.

Considering it may be more likely to have Texas play against A&M again rather than a program like Notre Dame, we might as well shelve the discussion.

With all due respect to Tech and TCU, they just aren’t natural rivals right now and it just doesn’t feel right. It will take at least a decade of both teams being relevant nationally in order for the rivalry to bud naturally. But considering that none of the teams have been consistent lately, we are still at least a decade away from that happening.

The only logical way that you can “create” a traditional game is by playing it the way Texas and A&M did. Alternate playing each other home and away. If Texas wants to do that with TCU, great. Same with Tech or even Baylor.

Give people something to look forward to every year. If fans from TCU know they play Texas on Thanksgiving weekend every year, then the process of a natural rivalry budding will increase drastically.

But, we all know that Texas is arrogant and wants the spotlight on them, so expect them to keep the game at home on that weekend in the near future.

There’s still a long way to go before the Thanksgiving weekend game is relevant again, but not playing on Thanksgiving Day is at least a step in the right direction.

Who’s The Better Fit: Charlie Strong or Kevin Sumlin?

Texas and Texas A&M used to have one of the best rivalries in college football. Since they have been in separate conferences for the past four years, it has turned into more of a “hashtag rivalry.” Since there’s no game being played between the two, both sides are forced to trade jabs on social media to keep the fire burning.

Can we just get these teams playing against each other again?

That’s a whole separate discussion; because the reality is that we won’t see them play each other on the field in the foreseeable future.

Both programs have their issues right now, but which head coach is the better fit at their respective school? Let’s start with Kevin Sumlin.

Sumlin is an offensive guru that has worked his way up the ranks and has turned average programs into good ones. A&M is no exception. The Aggies were an average team in the Big XII, but since leaving for the SEC in 2011, they have hit resurgence.

Sumlin’s offense has redefined SEC football in some ways. They caught the entire conference off guard with their high-flying offense in year one 1Having a certain Johnny Football at quarterback didn’t hurt either.

He forced teams to adapt defensively to his style, and the good teams did exactly that. It seems like Sumlin has realized that he won’t be able to win the SEC with offense alone. Defense wins championships in the SEC.

A&M is not far away from contending for a national championship. John Chavis was an outstanding hire for Defensive Coordinator this offseason, and Sumlin had to hit a homerun with that one. With the recruiting talent that Sumlin is bringing in, don’t be surprised if A&M flirts with the College Football Playoff in the next couple seasons.

Switching gears now to Charlie Strong. Strong is a defensive-minded head coach in a conference that is loaded with offense. Like Sumlin’s offense, Strong surprised some teams with how well his defense played in year one with the Longhorns. The only difference is that it didn’t translate to wins.

Through almost two seasons with Texas, their offense still hasn’t been able to give the defense any support. Hence, Texas has been losing, and losing bad at times.

Questions are circulating about whether Strong is the right fit for Texas. His track record indicates that he is a solid head coach, but that doesn’t mean that he is the perfect fit for any particular program.

Strong is doing some great things at Texas by building a foundation to succeed. However, his tenure at Texas may be short-lived if he doesn’t change his coaching philosophy to adapt to the conference that he chose to be in.

He is in a similar situation as Gary Patterson at TCU was when that program entered the Big XII. Patterson hired two outstanding offensive coordinators that made TCU successful virtually overnight. He had to swallow his pride and realize that his philosophy had to change in order to succeed, and Strong may have to do the same before it’s too late.

Texas and Texas A&M are proud programs that will succeed on a national level eventually. However, it seems like the head coaches will only be recognized as legends if they have the right coordinators with them. Sumlin has his offense and Strong has his defense. Sumlin is a little bit ahead of Strong right now, but it took him a few years to find what seems to be a great fit in College Station at Defensive Coordinator.

At this point in time, A&M is clearly in a better position than Texas because they have had the momentum in recruiting and have the talent to be coached up. Texas is getting to that point, but it is clear that they are still a couple of years away from being relevant again.

If Strong and Sumlin are both able to turn their respective programs around and get some national respect, then we could see a big shift in getting the two teams back on the field against each other. Right now, though, we will have to suffer through the bickering back-and-forth between the fan bases over social media that never really has any substance2Unless, of course, we can get these two teams together for a bowl game, which it seems at least one conference is trying to avoid.

Strong and Sumlin are good coaches, but they will only go as far as their coordinators take them. Sumlin looks like he took that step forward. Now Strong must do the same.

It may be the only chance we have to see the two programs square off against each other on the field in the near future3In the College Football Playoff. We assume it doesn’t happen any other way.

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1. Having a certain Johnny Football at quarterback didn’t hurt either
2. Unless, of course, we can get these two teams together for a bowl game, which it seems at least one conference is trying to avoid
3. In the College Football Playoff. We assume it doesn’t happen any other way