Last Updated on June 5, 2014
Last week I told Texas A&M fans what to expect in the SEC. After spending a couple of days in College Station and attending the Texas A&M vs. SMU game, I want to tell SEC fans what they can expect when they head west.
Is all this premature given the SEC hasn’t announced an invite to Texas A&M? No. There’s no doubt in my mind A&M is headed to the SEC.
In no particular order, here’s what SEC fans need to know:
- The festivities start Friday evening for a Saturday game. Tailgates begin to spring up around Kyle Field and to the east and west. Hang around until midnight and attend Midnight Yell. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Midnight Yell experience because I was traveling from the Ole Miss game, but you better bet I’ll be there next time. Midnight Yell can trace its roots back as far as the early 1900s. It’s held at midnight the night before a home game, Thursday night for away games and even at a planned location at all away games the night before the game. The Yell Leaders (explained below) lead the crowd in practicing the various yells and discuss how A&M is going to beat their opponent. Afterwards the lights go out and everyone kisses their date.
- The Aggies don’t have cheerleaders for football, they have Yell Leaders. Three seniors and two juniors are elected each year (in an election I’m told draws more voters than student body elections) to be part of this group. They lead the ENTIRE crowd in yells, not cheers. It’s loud, y’all. The football program details twelve yells, complete with hand signals. I spent the second half of the game on the field and those yells reverberate around the entire stadium. I can’t imagine what it would be like if Kyle Field was a full bowl and the noise was contained. One of many reasons the athletic department should reconsider their renovation plans and make them expansion plans now that they’re changing conferences.
- To say Texas A&M is steeped in tradition is the understatement of the century. Basically, the entire second half of the football program is spent explaining all of their traditions from Midnight Yell to the Aggie Ring to what they call “Aggie jargon.”
- They have their own language here. A full-page in the football program details “Aggie jargon.” For example, they all University of Texas “t.u.” A “Red Ass” is a person/activity full of Aggie spirit. There’s also the “wildcat,” which is a yell that is specific to class year. The list goes on and on. I recommend buying a program so you can fully understand what’s happening around you while you’re in College Station.
- The stands shake. When the Aggies sway, Kyle Field sways. Be prepared a kickoff and between the third and fourth quarters. I was warned the press box would shake. I’m pretty sure it was at least a 3.0 magnitude earthquake in there. I got my feet on solid ground down on the field for the third and fourth quarters.
- You’ll hear a lot about the Twelfth Man. Who is he? Look around you when you’re in Kyle Field – you’ll be surrounded. All Aggies are the Twelfth Man. In a 1922 game against Centre College, A&M went through all their reserve players in a tough fought battle. They found out a former player, who was playing basketball at the time, was in the press box helping reporters identify players. They asked him to come down and suit up. He never entered the game, but he accepted the call to help his team. According to the football program:
He came to be known as the “Twelfth Man” because he stood ready in case the eleven men on the gridiron needed him. That spirit of readiness for service, desire to support, and enthusiasm helped kindle a flame of devotion among the entire student body; a spirit that has grown vigorously throughout the years. the entire student body at A&M is the Twelfth Man, and they stand during the entire game to show their support. The Twelfth Man is always in the stands waiting to be called upon if needed.
- A&M’s military roots run deep. You might have gotten a sense of that from the story above. To understand more about this aspect and how it makes them a great fit for the SEC, read my significant other’s account of our visit. Here’s a sneak preview:
For roughly 80 years Texas A&M was an all-male school with compulsory membership in the Corps of Cadets. This was essentially a military academy. West Point in East Texas. While women and minorities are now welcome on campus and participation in the Corps is voluntary, Texas A&M remains a university with a military soul. The fundamental doctrines of military life – sacrifice, commitment, unity – remain a way of life here. Aggie fans never found that in the Big 12.
- They’re extremely hospitable! Chadd and I were invited to dozens of tailgates, and I feel confident we could have walked up to any tailgate we passed and joined in. Be prepared for lots of barbecue straight from the smoker, beer, margaritas and even vodka-soaked cherries and watermelon. I’m told tailgating is only about 6-8 years old at A&M, but they’ve figured it out pretty quickly. It’s more spread out than some of the SEC games I’ve been to (SC and Ole Miss come to mind), but that’s because buildings are spaced pretty far apart on this enormous campus. If you’d told me I was at an SEC school while tailgating, I would have believed you. SEC fans will love coming and being a part of the gameday atmosphere in College Station and will be welcomed.
I haven’t even come close to covering everything I witnessed in College Station. SEC fans, you’ll just have to make your own trip and experience it for yourself!
I leave you with a slideshow of pictures I took on gameday. If you can’t see my face for my hair, it’s because winds were 25-40 MPH all day (not typical for College Station I’m told, but due to a tropical storm):
Big 12SECTexas A&M
Brett BroskiSeptember 6, 2011
JohnSeptember 6, 2011
Thanks for stopping by our tailgate and for the great conversation. Hope that margarita went down easy and the trip home the same. You are welcome back anytime so don’t be a stranger.
John Jakubik ’89
Steve from Cow BayouSeptember 6, 2011
A great report! We just love football at A&M, and we’re fielding a team to match our enthusiasm and fan support.
If we end up in the SEC, we’ll welcome any and all SEC fans to College Station.
r2d2jshSeptember 6, 2011
Kristi, thanks to you and Chadd both for your lovely words. I’m so glad y’all had a good experience in College Station, and fully expect all future SEC visitors to have the same experience. As a first generation Aggie (Class of ’00) with SEC roots (Go Dawgs!), who grew up with an SEC mentality, I could never figure out why my native Texan husband (also Class of ’00) looked at me like I was NUTS when I explained that of COURSE one roots for the teams in one’s own conference when they are playing out of conference games…but that just hasn’t been how things have been done, either in the SWC or the Big 12. Many Big 12 fans didn’t even pull for Texas when they were playing in the national championship–because the hate runs back and forth all ways. It may take Aggies some time to adjust the the new atmosphere, based on our conditioned responses to prior experience, but I know that everyone will be so happy once they realize how great it is to be part of the SEC family.
AggieYaleSeptember 6, 2011
Great write up. I love it when people come to Aggieland for the first time and really get how special it really is. Keep writing and coming back.
Something else to mention is that the school was founded and presided over by former CSA generals (Sul Ross is still a huge deal at TAMU) and Jeff Davis was once a candidate to become president. Our band plays “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” regularly which is relic from the War Between the States
We are Southerners to our core, and anyone who says “Texas A&M just doesn’t seem SEC to me” is missing a history and geography lesson. Texas is a big state with diverse cultures and history. Gig’em, SECede, and BTHO Idaho.
BrianSeptember 6, 2011
Great article. Thankful to have some unbiased reporting on our school/traditions and how we would be a great fit for the SEC.
Thanks & Gig ’em!
Josh Wood (@joshwoodtx)September 6, 2011
Great post. Glad you enjoyed!
JeanneSeptember 6, 2011
I was so happy to read your post and totally agree with you! I’ve long thought A&M was the step-child of the great SEC. My brother played football at University of Alabama and my father played at Texas A&M, hence my loyalty to both schools. Change can be hard but I truly feel this will be a great fit…hope it becomes a reality!
Amy KSeptember 6, 2011
Good job, with one minor bit of amplification regarding the origin of the 12th Man: At the time, Centre College was the top-ranked team in the country, and Texas A&M very much the underdog. The game was the Dixie Classic, forerunner to the Cotton Bowl.
Jose '11September 6, 2011
Hey Kristi thanks for visiting Aggieland! Hopefully you had a great time, and I’m glad you got treated well. Thats just how Aggies roll, but hopefully you come out to another game this year! Very nice write up.
KenSeptember 6, 2011
Great article. Aggie lore would take days of reading to cover. Glad you had a good experience. More lore – while the Aggies were losing many of the games in the lop-sided series with tu, they were producing military officers. Mandatory military in the Corps of Cadets for all students for the first two years of school was removed only in 1964. A&M produced more officers in WWII than all the service academies combined. Fortunately, the series with tu has turned around of late and the Aggies lead 18-17 over the last 35 years. We’re still looking for a National Championship and hoping the SEC will help us along the way.
RaulSeptember 6, 2011
You also could have mentioned the greatest band on the land, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band!!! I hope you enjoyed it at halftime.
SEC fans will love it at first sight.
Bill Zemanek '69September 6, 2011
Great write up!
Next time at Kyle for Gameday drop by the ZOB Tailgate at Reed Arena. Join Bill Z and friends along with the Class of ’69 for some great food, super cold beverages and good old Aggie hospitality.
Bill Z ’69
email@example.comSeptember 8, 2011
I went to a Miami game there a few years ago and it was one of the best road games i have ever gone to. The A.m. fans are the best that we have run across in years SEC is very lucky to get them.
AlexSeptember 10, 2011
Like in the SEC, get your hotel room early or you’ll likely wind up staying in Houston.
Than you for a great write up.
Julie '97September 14, 2011
Until I moved out of Texas in 1998, I had never been exposed to anything but the Aggie Way. Since then I’ve lived in several college towns across the US, and though each area possesses its own unique charm, I haven’t seen one with the good-hearted team spirit and true friendliness to opposing fans as in Bryan/College Station. I realize I’m biased because I grew up ‘bleeding maroon’ and have a degree from A&M, but my opinion is reinforced every time I read an article or hear a story such as this. I LOVE hearing when opposing teams’ fans can’t wait to come back! If Aggies can be proud of nothing else, let us take ultimate pride in knowing that we are the classiest fans in college athletics. I hope that is one tradition that NEVER DIES…Gig ‘Em!!!!