In college football there are many sorts of rivalries: There are the life and death struggles for state supremacy- your Michigan/Ohio State, your Texas/Oklahoma, etc., there are the in-state showdowns for bragging rights with your workmates, often where one side has a bit of an inferiority complex to another- Texas/A&M, Iowa/Iowa State, Alabama/Auburn, and then there are the one-sided "rivalries" that have a lot of history, but not much else to them- Michigan/Minnesota (since 1968, Minnesota has won three times), Notre Dame-Navy (Until 2007 Notre Dame won 43 straight in the annual series) and the like. TCU is in the state of Texas, which holds so many universities that play football at the highest level that we have experience with each sort of rivalry (I consider Waco not a part of Texas) without ever leaving the state. When I started this series I wasn't really anticipating TCU would ever be thrown back into direct conference competition with our old SWC mates (maybe one or the other of Tech or Baylor if the expansion game did them wrong), but to rekindle three of the four rivalries we haven't played in conference since the SWC's demise was almost unthinkable. But to serve the purpose of studying TCU's history, this bye week we'll be looking at the one SWC foe who has been conspicuous by their absence on TCU's schedules ever since the SWC's demise: and sadly for the froggy faithful, it's the rival with whom we fall into the last category of rivalry I mentioned. The Texas A&M Aggies are after the jump!
If you're a university in Texas that plays football, you have a hand sign- the famous Hook 'em Horns, the much nicer Horned Frog hand sign, getting your guns out for Tech or pony ears for SMU or even the eagle claw up at North Texas: A&M's was the first, and it was inspired by us way back in 1930 when an Aggie Board of Regents member answered his own question of "What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?" with "Gig 'em, Aggies!" borrowing a term from frog hunting and thrusting his thumb straight up for emphasis. In true A&M tradition, they decided that this was such a great idea that they adopted it as their go to handsign for every opponent (Aggies don't often get good ideas, so when they think one is clever: Like singing "Goodbye to Texas University" they use it all the time), whether anyone had ever heard of "gig"ging a Razorback or not (and this is certainly not an activity that anyone other than an Aggie would recommend trying). Well they didn't Gig us in 1930 (TCU 3, A&M 0) which shouldn't surprise anyone as TCU had its most successful decade against the Aggies in the 30s: 7-2-1. That is where the happy part of our tale ends, however, as A&M improved to 6-4 in the 40s and wouldn't lose another decade series to the frogs- and as you look back on the series one thing is perfectly clear: When A&M was good/decent, TCU lost. What was special about 1945 that wasn't World War II related? It was the last time TCU beat an A&M team with a winning record. Part of this is that TCU simply wasn't very good at football for most of the 70s and 80s, but A&M is a monkey on TCU's back without compare, as they are the only Texas team (as well as the only former SWC or current Big 12 team) that TCU has never beaten during my lifetime (since 1984).
Despite this lack of success against the aggies (or perhaps because of it?), TCU has approached A&M about scheduling a series with the Aggies again and again since the demise of the SWC, and from all reports each conversation is shorter than the last- to the point where I expect that at this point all our fearless AD is able to utter is "Bill? This is Chris Del..." before the other end hangs up. This is a fairly unique circumstance- Every other team in the SWC has scheduled TCU since the demise of the conference save Arkansas (who it must be noted has a home and home scheduled with the frogs for 2015 and 2016) and we can't really give A&M full credit for showing up to the Galleryfurniture.com bowl, so why the lack of interest from A&M? First of all, though we have to thank him vigorously for not only rescuing us from the gutter of the college football world- but also bringing Gary Patterson along with him- Coach Fran played a big part in shooting down a renewal of the series when he decided he no longer wanted to be an Alabama Man and took on the job of attempting to get A&M back to its glory days of the 90s- and to do that he loaded up the A&M non-conference schedule with as many cream puffs as possible: and attempted to squirm his way out of scheduled return visits to Utah and Clemson. With TCU on the definite upswing, what would Fran gain by scheduling his old employers? Just another hard game, no matter how much the history favored the Aggies. And the fairly strict policy A&M has adopted of not playing true road games in non conference (the Aggies have made one non-conference visit to an opposing teams stadium since 2006) flies straight in the face of TCU's strict policy of no one-and-dones (Unless it's Ohio State. Which is hilarious). And the fact is over the last decade TCU has been quite good and A&M has been quite bad/average, and A&M has little to gain from playing TCU- they have an annual game in the metroplex with Arkansas, so the appeal of coming to D/FW for a game is minimal, and they have no incentive to play us just so we can break their streak (I imagine it's a point of pride for the Aggies). That said, TCU is somewhat in debt to A&M for leaving the Big 12 in the lurch to the point where the conference decided that we were the ideal replacements for the departing Aggies, so the schools maintain the strange connection they've developed in some way, even if we are unlikely to ever meet the Aggies again in non-conference. Hopefully the Big 12/SEC bowl bids will align one day and we'll get another shot at the men of Kyle Field, but in the meantime... we'll always have the Aggie jokes.