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Columbia Missourian

TIGER KICKOFF: Ten things you didn't know about Texas A&M

By Richard Fernandez
November 23, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST
Texas A&M students cheer for their team during the Aggies game against Alabama Nov. 10 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Outside of the U.S. military academies, Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets is the largest uniformed institution in the country.

COLUMBIA — Yes, Missouri is plenty familiar with Texas A&M.

The Tigers have played at College Station, Texas, the past two seasons, winning both of those games against the Aggies. But the tradition is so rich at Texas A&M that there is still a lot to see.

Missouri has heard all about Johnny Manziel and his quest for the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman, but Saturday will be the Tigers' time to see him in person. He looks like an upgrade over his predecessor, Ryan Tannehill, who was the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft and currently the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback.

Manziel will make it difficult for Missouri to come out of this game with a victory. But at least the Tigers get another chance to play in front of the devoted Texas A&M fan base at Kyle Field.

Here are 10 things you didn't know about Texas A&M:

10. Outside of the U.S. military academies, Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets is the largest uniformed institution in the country. In the late 1800s, Texas A&M began as a military school and admitted only white males. They were all required to undergo military training. The Corps of Cadets has been voluntary since 1965, but it continues to carry out many of the school's cherished traditions, including the "Midnight Yell."

9. Aggie yells are divided by class. Freshman express their approval during a game by yelling "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Once they are sophomores, they can go, "A-A-A-A-A!" But it's the upperclassmen who have all the fun. Juniors get to yell, "A-A-A-WHOOP," while seniors go, "A-WHOOP!"

8. The term "Aggies" simply refers to Texas A&M students. The students used to be called "farmers" until the term Aggies came into use in the 1920s.

7. Texas A&M students and alumni often say "Gig 'em" as they hold their thumbs up on one hand, displaying their Aggie rings. What does "Gig 'em," mean? A "gig" is a sharp-pronged frog-hunting tool. "Gig 'em" was a saying referring to the TCU Horned Frogs before Texas A&M played them in 1930. The phrase caught on and is still used.

6. The "A" & "M" don't actually stand for anything anymore. In 1876, the school opened as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. When it became a university in 1963, the school changed its name to Texas A&M University. While the "A&M" provides a link to the school's past, the letters don't officially stand for anything.

5. In 1922, the Texas A&M football team had so many injuries in a game that it was down to 11 players. E. King Gill was called out of the stands and put on a football uniform. He was the 12th man, ready to play in the game if he was called upon. He never went in, but his readiness and willingness to support the team started a tradition of fan devotion.

4. Texas A&M doesn't have cheerleaders, but "Yell Leaders." The tradition started when the school was an all-male institution. Dressed in all white, the group of three seniors and two juniors leads the crowd in yells.

3. In Texas, Aggies are often the butt of jokes. If you've seen the Yell Leaders,  it's not hard to imagine why. It might also be the false perception that any Texan would choose Longhorns over Aggies if they could get into UT. Either way, Aggies jokes are nearly as prevalent as "yo mama" jokes. How does an Aggie tie his shoe? He steps his right foot up on a step, then he bends over and ties the shoe on his left foot. When you badly miss a shot in basketball and the ball only grazes the net, someone might say, "Aggie swish."

2. Aggies kiss their dates after touchdowns. It is also tradition for them to kiss their date when the lights go out after a Midnight Yell. If one doesn't have a date, all he or she has to do is hold up a lighter to find a partner to kiss. Word is that yelling "A-A-A-WHOOP," is less successful.

1. The Texas A&M mascot has the power to cancel class. Reveille, the Collie who represents the Aggies, is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. It is tradition for Reveille to attend classes at Texas A&M. Though it is rare, if the dog barks while a professor is teaching, the class is dismissed immediately.