I really didn’t envision this topic requiring multiple attempts to adequately cover, but in writing Part I earlier this month, I realized I had too much to say for one post. After all, this isn’t Grantland – you don’t have the time to read a novel, and I don’t have the talent to write one.
We already covered the fact that the administration (if someone else should be held responsible for the video embedded in Part I, let me know) made us look like pushover "just happy to be here" pushovers. Next week I plan on addressing the football team in Part III, so be looking for that.
So what, then, is Part II going to be about?
You. Me. Us.
The fan base.
I vaguely remember having a discussion with someone a few years ago, when Texas A&M hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers, about which fan base was ‘nicer’, and which campus was ‘friendlier’. I honestly cannot recollect a single aspect of that game other than that conversation. I am quite sure neither of us had ever visited Lincoln, much less encountered the Husker faithful on the Nebraska campus for a football game. But somehow we heard that A&M and Nebraska were considered the two “friendliest” campuses in the Big 12, and quite possibly the country.
But as we know, friendliness doesn’t win football games.
According to aggietraditions.com, “‘Howdy’ is the official greeting of Texas A&M University. It is our way of ensuring that no one feels like a stranger. The exact origin on this tradition is not known. However, ‘Howdy’ is what sets us apart as the friendliest campus in the world.”
That’s nice. Really, it is.
Let me preface this by first saying that I love Texas A&M University. Did hearing an extremely awkward and forced “Howdy” from a Corps freshman in a quiet, deserted hallway of the Wehner building make me cringe? Yes, absolutely. But I have grown to appreciate “Howdy” and what it stands for.
I recall loving the friendly atmosphere at Texas A&M when I visited in high school. The welcoming vibes made for a great day-to-day college experience. But I never quite understood why Texas A&M would bend over backwards to accommodate fans of the Aggies’ opponents. For example, the other schools’ tailgate location was closer to Kyle Field than the Greeks’. (Clearly, I’m not bitter at all.)
That attitude is why I believe the majority of the Aggie faithful is in for a rude awakening when experiencing a true SEC gameday experience. We won’t be met with abundant high-fives, instead we very well might be met with condescending stares. Stares that say, “thanks for joining the SEC Mr. Texas A&M fan; now please stand aside while we walk on top of you for a couple years.”
Most of us can probably attest to being ridiculed by friends who attended Arkansas or LSU the past few years. We deserved it after the embarrassing losses at Cowboys Stadium. But I believe any fan base is going to be 10 times more intense when they are at their home stadium. People tend to be milder at a neutral site, so I don’t think the 12th Man has really seen just what the fans of the SEC are capable of.
There won’t be a lot of free beer at the Auburn tailgate for us. The women at the Alabama games won’t be interested in where your wife got her rhinestone-embroidered Aggie flip-flops. The fraternity boys in Oxford won’t be looking for a “howdy”. When we play LSU, you’ll become very familiar with “tiger bait”.
This isn’t to say that Texas A&M needs to all of a sudden change its friendly ways overnight as a result of joining an intense conference. However, if we are going to be taken seriously by the fan bases of the SEC, a certain amount of growing up needs to happen. We are officially in the big-time now, and it’s time we embrace it.
They don’t give out free servings of respect in the SEC. That takes wins… lots of them.