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New kind of throwback

Change in opponents but not passion as A&M and LSU resume historic rivalry

Published: Friday, October 19, 2012

Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 21:10

As rumors of A&M’s move to the SEC surfaced, pundits cried bloody murder about the Aggies leaving behind their greatest in-state rivals. Media attacked A&M, blaming the University for trashing tradition and “abandoning” regional rivals Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas.

Perhaps those disgruntled pundits should take a trip Saturday to Kyle Field. They’ll receive a taste of why A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference.

Yes, Texas was the team every Aggie loved to hate. The rivalry with the Longhorns was one of the nation’s oldest and longest-standing traditions. It was a family rivalry pitting brother against brother, father against son and husband against wife.

Though as long as Big 12 Conference commissioner — excuse me — Texas athletic director Deloss Dodds remains in his burnt-orange pulpit, it seems the beloved Texas rivalry will be in for a sizable hiatus.

In speaking with ol’ Ags, I learned something that piqued my interest. In a discussion about heated historic rivalries, I heard a school name I hadn’t necessarily expected. Of course, there’s always Texas. But the second team to appear in conversation wasn’t Baylor or Tech or even Arkansas.

It was LSU.

Yes, A&M hasn’t played the Tigers in the regular season since 1995, but the bad blood still runs deep. With A&M in the SEC West, that hatred and tension should only continue to grow.

The A&M-LSU rivalry dates back to 1899, and Saturday’s game will mark the 51st meeting between the two teams. The rivalry was likely at its apex from 1986 to 1995, a 10-year home-and-home series in which the Aggies edged the Tigers 6-4 and rattled off five consecutive victories from 1991 to 1995.

The rivalry goes beyond the gridiron into the recruiting realm. Great players from both Texas and Louisiana went on to become impactful players for both programs in the opposite state.

Former quarterback and A&M football legend Bucky Richardson was famously recruited out of Baton Rouge, La. Richardson would guide the Aggies to two Southwest Conference titles and deliver a 45-7 walloping of the Tigers in 1991 at Kyle Field.

Former LSU running back Harvey Williams grew up in Hempstead, Texas, a few miles away from College Station. Once considered a definite A&M commitment in 1986, he abruptly switched to the Tigers on national signing day to the disdain of the Aggies. Williams’ decision added fuel to an already intense rivalry fire. He would run for more than 2,800 yards in his four years at LSU and lead the Tigers to three victories over A&M.

“The young kids today don’t know the depth and the tradition and how heated up things used to be,” Williams told the Houston Chronicle. “I’m anxious to see how things develop.”

Given the shared passion of the two schools, the proximity of the states and the glory of each team’s respective football stadiums, it’s not hard to see how this rivalry could soon become one of the conference’s best. It’s “Death Valley” versus Kyle Field, it’s “Gig ‘Em” versus “Geaux Tigers.” It will be one of the grandest spectacles in college football.

Come Saturday morning at Kyle Field, an age-old rivalry will be renewed before the Aggies’ eyes — perhaps bigger and better than ever.

Sorry Red Raiders, Bears and Longhorns.

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