COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Maybe it was the 11 a.m. kickoff. Maybe it was the sub-60 degree chill that snuck its way down to College Station this weekend. Maybe it was the anticipation for avenging a home loss to Missouri last season.
Regardless, Texas A&M fans did not hold their tongues Saturday morning before the Aggies' football game against Missouri. Discussing their loyalties to the Aggies, the move to the Southeastern Conference and their hatred for the University of Texas, they were adamant and proud.
Nathan Hines treated traveling Missouri fans as well as anyone on Saturday, often hollering across the parking lot at any gold-adorning guests to ask if they wanted a beer. Asked about the Longhorns, though, he became testy. He wondered why anyone would be upset with Texas A&M for fleeing the Big 12, in which the University of Texas has financial control.
“Texas doesn’t want to share, so we’re taking our toys and playing in another sandbox,” Hines said. “They are arrogant ..., and we are happy to get away from them.”
What’s his beef with Bevo, exactly? Hines, a 1980 graduate of A&M, said UT’s liberal inclinations “go against 95 percent of what Texas stands for.” He also disdains the widespread, commercial popularity the Longhorns have.
“You see someone wearing an A&M T-shirt, and you know they’ve been to College Station,” Hines said. “You see someone wearing a UT shirt, and you know they’ve been to Walmart.”
Hines pointed out that Texas A&M was founded in 1876, seven years before the University of Texas. It’s well known, he said, that the people who founded Texas were parents who realized their children were “too big of wussies” to handle Texas A&M. He challenged a quick Google search to tell him otherwise.
“At least, that’s how I see it,” he said.
Hines isn’t alone in his fierce loyalty to Texas A&M. Standing outside Kyle Field, Gus Milburn begrudgingly held up two tickets. He does not usually scalp, and he wanted to join his family’s tailgate. But when you are a holder of 13 season tickets, you have a few to get rid of every now and then. Sometimes, his friends can’t make it to College Station. Things come up.
Practically nothing can come up for Milburn and his wife, Mary, to miss a Texas A&M home game. They have attended every single one the past 39 years.
“If there was a conflict, we just avoided it,” he said.
Milburn, 79 and a 1960 graduate of Texas A&M, said he even likes to joke with his wife that if she dies on a Friday during football season, he will take care of her on Monday.
“That’s a joke, of course. I would never do that,” he said.
The Milburns travel to two to three road games every season, and Gus Milburn said they are looking forward to Texas A&M’s move to the SEC so that he can visit places he has either never been to, like Ole Miss, or places he would like to go back to, like LSU and Alabama.
He’s happy Missouri’s coming along for the ride, too. He and Mary never did get up to Columbia.
“Now, we probably will,” he said.
One city he does not plan to visit again for a football game is Austin. He said that Aggies fans are mistreated there and that the 117-year-old rivalry isn’t worth dealing with the University of Texas. Asked if he would miss the rivalry, Milburn said, “Hell, no.”
“We’ve been treated like stepchildren by those ... all these years,” he said. “I’m not going to miss them at all.”
Keith Meadows demonstrated his Aggies pride another way. Waiting to see the Corps of Cadets marching band Saturday morning, he described the Big 12 Conference baseball tournament championship game in Oklahoma City last May.
In the 10th inning, Texas A&M hit a home run off Missouri pitcher Dusty Ross, giving the Aggies a 10-9 victory. Ross happens to be Meadows’ nephew.
“His mom is crying, and his two aunts start crying,” Meadows said. “I thought it was pretty cool. The Aggies won.”
Meadows, a 1984 graduate who lives in Wichita Falls, Texas, said he is ambivalent about the move to the SEC. He did not want to lose the rivalry with Texas, and he wasn’t sure how well A&M and Missouri would be able to compete.
But he said he recognized the change was probably necessary.
“You’ve got to be constantly changing or adjusting or you’ll get left behind,” he said.