What’s So Bad About Texas A&M?

Normally, this first article of the season here at HSJ Central is reserved for either some rah-rah piece about how A&M might be good this year if things go well or some schticky piece about a few of us sitting around talking about how drunk we are going to get after Tech hangs half-a-hundred on us, but I decided to take a bit of a different approach to the season this year. Granted, just about every Aggie I know is beaten down to a pulp by the last six years of football that slides from “Well, At Least We Beat t.u.” to “Sumbitch, We Lost to Arkansas State?!?” on what we call the “Pathetic Continuum”. Of course, there are still the Redass few that look and act like they just stepped out of a jokebook who will tell you that nothing is wrong with the program, but those are the same folks who fall asleep at night to the plantive sounds of bleating sheep on a reel-to-reel. Don’t ask where they got the recording.

But what about the rest of us? What about the vast majority of Texas A&M graduates, fans, and whatever else we are supposed to call ourselves who enjoyed a couple of decades of not just football dominance but a place at the table where the big kids sit? Now, we are relagated to discussions in coffee circles and bloated football magazines on whether or not we will either win a game in the Big XII or finish above last in the division. That’s not acceptable, however it’s reality right now.

It didn’t take us overnight to get to this point, and despite the rather convincing arguments from our sisters from schools like Texas or Texas Tech, we aren’t destined to be at the bottom forever. At some point, A&M football will bounce back, Tech will fall back to where they belong, and Baylor will go back to being the school that got into the Big XII over TCU only because Ann Richards was a cunt.

So, what’s wrong with Texas A&M? Why is it that the Aggie jokes that we endured thru the 1900’s about changing a lightbulb or knowing where to put your glasses suddenly turned into an incredibly vitriolic stampede? How is it that a school like Baylor who hadn’t won a Big XII conference game EVER until a few years ago has any room to talk shit about A&M, who they’ve only beaten TWICE since the 80’s? They’ve beaten Texas more than that, but somehow they think that they can whip up on A&M now. How is it that we’ve gone from denying that Texas Tech was a rival to suddenly having Tech being annoyed and insulted that A&M would be considered on their level? They haven’t won an outright conference championship since before Kennedy was assassinated.

Let’s look at a few things. According to indystar.com, A&M leads all Big XII schools in football ticket sales at $21mil, even more than Texas (third overall behind Ohio State and Michigan). In total budget, A&M ranks 8th overall with $64mil. Texas is the only Big XII team ahead of us, and they clock in at 2nd with $89mil. I can keep going with these numbers, but they are all going to show that A&M spends money like a top 15 team.

Ok, so it’s not money. Let’s look at recent football success. In the last ten years, A&M has a record that ranks around 40th overall, and that includes two years of 4-8, a 5-6, and a 6-6. All things considered, that’s not too bad. However, in the last 15 years, we have two bowl wins. Two. Bowl. Wins. That’s a problem. We won the Big XII South Division twice in ’97 and ’98 and since have been behind Texas and OU every year. Against our division rivals like Baylor and OSU, we’ve done pretty good. However, we are 3-10 in the last 13 meetings w/Tech, allowing them to almost even the series overall. We haven’t won in Lubbock since 1993. We haven’t beaten OU since Reggie’s miracle game in 2002. Although we took 2 straight games against the sips, the other 10 years before that only netted two wins total.

This is a chicken vs. egg argument. Which comes first, winning or popularity? In the early 90’s, you couldn’t go anywhere in the state w/o finding tons of A&M gear everywhere. As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember going to Wal-Mart (I’m pedigree white trash) and seeing nothing but TAMU shirts (back when that was a popular moniker for A&M, for who knows what terrible reason). On the off chance that I saw a Texas shirt, I’d cover it up w/a TAMU shirt, but I didn’t have to do that very often since other people did it, too. And for GOD’S sake, there weren’t any OU shirts in there. From time to time, you could find a Tech shirt, but that was usually over near the little kid section.

Check this out.

This is a picture from a random sporting goods store in Texas. I’m not going to name any names or call stores out, but it’s a rather prominent store in a high traffic area and it’s not indicative of any one line of stores.  If you look really closely at the bottom right, you’ll see a maroon football, the only A&M product on the display rack that greets you when you walk in the door.  I might add that this display was under a giant Texas canopy.  Ok, so I go to a different part of the store to see what sort of A&M stuff I can find.

Excuse the blurriness, but I think you get the point.  The entire rack is full, there are only two A&M hats and neither one is the same maroon that we use.  Hell, one looks like a pair of boxer shorts that’s been cut up. Let’s look at the rest of the college apparel section:

Ok, so nothing in the aisles.  How about the rest of the store?

I wasn’t being selective on this…there wasn’t a gawdamn Aggie t-shirt in the entire butt-fucking store.  They had the “Keep Austin Weird” shirts, but not one A&M shirt.  If you look really closely at the end of the rack on the last picture, you can see a maroon shirt.  I got kinda excited there, and realized it was for a local high school.

Not an Aggie t-shirt in the entire place.  No Aggie chairs or canopies, only two hats and a single football, and I found a pair of Aggie flipflops in the shoe department.  Not to be swayed, I went to another location of the same store in a different city and it was the same.  So I went to a different sporting goods store so that our HSJ brethren wouldn’t think I was being selective in my research.  From a totally different store in a totally different town, this is the collegiate apparel section:

There are two A&M hats and some A&M car flags.  The selection of Duke hats at this sporting good store in Texas was only one style fewer than the A&M hats available.  Reeeeeeeload, Ags. 

I did, however, find one A&M t-shirt at the new place. 

You’ll notice that it has the schedule from last year on it.  I’m sure that will be a top seller this fall, especially with the incredibly effective marketing slogan “Bring It” at the bottom.  Christ almighty.

By chance, I had to stop by a home improvement store and guess what I found:

No other schools were represented in the area rug section, which is just one more thing that longhorn fans can gloat over. 

According to the Collegiate Licensing Corp who is the larger of two entities who handles product licensing for colleges, UT ranks #1 overall and has for the last four years in collegiate licensing.   A&M just signed on with CLC this past August, so the rankings will not include Texas A&M (just want to make sure we are fair here).   We’ll revisit after A&M is included in the quarterly report, but if Tech is top 25, then A&M should be, right?


Now that I’ve bitched about the fact that I can’t find an A&M t-shirt like I could in 1992, let’s talk about the ramifications.  This isn’t a singular phenomenon for one particular area.  This is happening all over the entire state.  You go to any sporting goods store and you’ll see a shitload (no pun intended) of t-sip gear.  The stores that have substantial marketing departments will also probably carry Texas Tech and OU stuff for no other reason than the fact that they are winning right now, and winning sells.  Now, Aggies will buy anything that has the block aTm on it, so I know that A&M stuff sells.  But one has to realize that selling to the alumni of a school is easy.  It’s the other schlubs on the street wearing sports gear that make/break the bank.  To those buyers, it has nothing to do with Kirk Herbstreit’s Gameday Atmosphere rankings or how we stack up against Harvard or Yale in our research department.  It’s only about the winning team, and a team that doesn’t win doesn’t automatically market itself without some sort of effort.  Anyone in their right minds who could get into Texas, A&M, or OU are not going to go to Lubbock or Stillwater.  That’s why those places have as many students as UofNorth Texas.  So why the hell are those schools, with less than 30k students, able to outsell Texas A&M?  No one even wants to go to school there, but people want to buy their shirts?!?  At least OSU has a wacky shitbird billionaire who is trying to build a championship  a la Tom Hicks.  Funny that they both are staring down the snotty end of a balance sheet right now, but I digress.

In other words, A&M does NOT sell itself.  You hearin’ me, Bill Byrne? A&M does NOT sell itself to anyone but people who already like A&M, and unfortunately we’ll still like A&M regardless of the shit you put on the football field.

A&M’s problem in football is easy to figure out. RC Slocum let the game pass him over and was outrecruited by Mack Brown and Bob Stoops for the best talent in Texas. Dennis Dickhead Franchione came in as the savior of our failing program and decided that he wanted to reinvent the wheel, recruiting players that would either never see the field or who would fit his convoluted offense that basically was the triple-option veer while completely forgetting that we have to play defense every once in a while.  At a time when the A&M brass needed to go out and make a splash hire to energize the program, they hired a head coach that no one else wanted as a head coach and who was, up to that point, most famous for falling asleep while scouting players.  That’s recruiting prowess if I’ve ever seen it, and he was taken to the woodshed in his first 15 months as coach.  Sherman has turned on the gas this season and has recruited to suit more of a pro-style offense, however he’s going to need some time to restock the lack of talent that RC and Fran left behind.  He’s taking a good, healthy approach to the program and will probably get us back on track, however it’s going to take some time.  Meanwhile, we are the laughing stock of college football.

Now we are back to the chicken-egg situation.  Chances are we won’t be winning anything significant this year (and that means division championship and above) and if the pundits are correct, will be at the bottom of the barrel again clawing to pass Baylor, a school that is only rivaled in its lameness by the city it resides in.  Texas A&M is the sixth largest school in the nation, a school with the largest amount of ticket sales in the Big XII (third highest overall), second in the Big XII in total AD budget and 8th overall, and we can’t find a damn shirt to buy at the local sporting good store?

The Dallas Cowboys know how to market as do the longhorns.  You have to saturate the market, regardless if you are winning.  Winning will cure it all, but you’ve got to make it cool to like A&M again in the meantime.  That starts and ends with inundating the market with A&M gear.  Every gas station from Van Alstyne to Hearne should have as much Aggie stuff as you can force down their throats.  Any Wal-Mart in Texas that has more OU stuff than A&M stuff should be burned to the ground.  Don’t try to make a profit on t-shirts like you do football tickets, Byrne.  This is a fundamental investment.  Partnering w/CLC is a step in the right direction, but the university needs to be completely behind this and should not accept failure on this venture because you have to be in the faces and minds of the general public until we can start winning again.  The Spirit of Aggieland is dying on the vine, so Aggies must support this.

Unlike they do with our university presidents.



24 comments on “What’s So Bad About Texas A&M?

  1. Pingback: EDSBS » Archive » CURIOUS INDEX, 9/2/2009

  2. Nice write up. Couple of quick comments from a Longhorn.

    You’re not the laughing stock of college football. You’re irrevelant. Kids don’t know about your brand anymore.

    The main problem you have is not just winning on the field but a cultrual problem of aggie farmer crap. All people know of aggies are nut squezzing farming male cheerleading military wannabees.

    I’m not meaning that as a put down but as a reality check to show how the average American understands aggies.

  3. I live in Houston, but am from Nebraska and a die-hard Husker fan. Bill Byrne was great for hiring coaches at NU – but horrible at creating a NATIONAL brand for recruiting and exposure. So we have felt your pain; even though we never shared the state with 3 other BCS teams it would have been nice to see our product somewhere other than the Lincoln Wal-Mart and JC Penny.

    As for the actual football – dude I share your pain. While I wish I could offer comfort in the ‘you have a coach with NFL experience so everything will be good’…..I can’t. Bill Callahan was a human donkey for Nebraska cause he never embraced the culture. I know that Sherman has more affinity with A&M so that’s a good start, but hopefully we are both putting our 5-6 years behind us.

    To close, after having visited most of the Big XII schools for games – I think A&M has one of the top atmospheres on gameday, if not the top. So even if Nebraska and A&M never win another championship…..you can always bet that our stadium will be full and the fans will carry on the tradition.

  4. Orson,

    You’ve got it all wrong. Irrelevance in football has nothing to do with the School, Traditions, Farmers or the Corps of Cadets. You’ve simply taken your distaste for all things Aggie and spouted off your typical nutless bovine talking points. Winning makes everything cool. When A&M was winning, everyone was walking around with buzz cuts, Ray Ban Aviators and wanting to be Top Gun. Everyone wants to be associated with winners. Now that we’re not, nobody wants to do that. Right now, everyone wants to be a maggot infested hippie bongo player that looks and smells like they haven’t showered in 5 weeks. Why? Because that is what’s cool. t.u. is tasting success, so everyone wants to be, smell and look like a typical t-sip. Long hair, tattoos and smelly. You just got to hate when people make generalizations, don’t you?

    Nutless bovine can’t stay on top forever, although your hubris makes you think you can. You are who you are and if you don’t ride for the brand, then you’re just a passing flake who will simply move with the masses to whatever is cool next. What we do is what we do and that makes us different from every other generic State University (K-Suck, chOkie Lite, or Sam Houston State). A&M can and will win and when they do, every douche bag t-shirt sip and Texas Techtard in the State will be pimping maroon around like you dickheads do now and like we did at one time 10-20 years ago.

  5. [quote]On the off chance that I saw a Texas shirt, I’d cover it up w/a TAMU shirt[/quote]

    I was walking from the condo to the lift in Vail last season and unbelievably spied both t.u. and A&M merchandise displayed side-by-side on an outdoor rack. I did exactly the same thing.

    • Haha…I live in Austin and I do the same thing all the time…not like it’ll help that much. There’s way too much burnt orange

  6. NEW SHIRT JUST OUT! I saw a maroon Aggie shirt that said – (on front left pocket height TEXAS A & M). On back it said – Those that wear Aggie Shirts go to Texas A & M. Those that wear (in orange) TEXAS shirts go to (in blue) WALMART!!

  7. Ok, I really could care less if someone wear a UT or TAMU shirt. Honestly, it is a stupid thing to argue about. And honestly, basing a school of its football team rather than the academics is a horrible way to choose a school. I’m afraid alot of you Aggies are brainwashed.

    I go to Tarleton (which is a sister school of Texas A&M), & let me tell you, people give A&M more credit than it deserves.

    Let me start:
    1. Class sizes are can be up 900+ students. Good luck asking question to the professor when you can’t even see him lol.

    2. A&M is NOT the best school in engineering. UT of Austin is ranked #6 in the nation’s best engineering-computer science-physics. Even the school I’m going to offers farther broader program than you guys. What’s your excuse Aggies?

    3. All the snobs from my high school go to that school. Snobs as in, really shallow preppy (fake) people. You guys know who you are.

    4. I could care less how crappy a football team is in a college, A&M sucks because they don’t have everything for everyone. I hate spirit day because there is no other activities people do there than just stupid football. Other social events are postponed on these days. I fucking HATE sports. Period! Football, basketball, etc.—they are all gay & boring as hell. Spirits days are so boring.

    5. Aggies are unsportsmanlike. Their basketball fans take the college games as if it meant their lives. Are sports fans so fucking desperate that they are willing to killing their own blood over a stupid game? Get a life Aggies.

    6. Many A&M Aggies have transfered to my school because the A&M system is just too big. Still I consider UT a better school for logical reasons.

    Just because a school is popular, doesn’t make it great. Many of my friends who went to A&M ended up going through hell. Thank goodness they have sister school.

    • Hey Tarted mouth-breather…go have your boyfriend give you the shocker while you rest his balls in your mouth, but whatever you do, stop talking/writing…all of your points make you look like a big ass hat…

    • Hrm. Tarleton: great in computer science, apparently… but not worth two shits and a sack of flour in English.

      Just a couple of quick questions, for you:

      First of all, I’m curious to know why a guy who doesn’t give a damn about athletics, much less Texas A&M athletics, is even perusing this site.

      Second, based on the fact that your post reads like something that would be seen at Engrish.com, I simply have to know: did you forsake life in Pakistan or some such place and come to the United States just to go to TARLETON? You DO realize that would be like selling your house, packing up the wife and kids and moving to Moscow just so you can have lunch at the McDonald’s in Red Square, right?

    • Tarleton: Your very first point is completely wrong. I researched this and the average class size for every department is between 25 and 45 students. I attend A&M and the largest class size I have ever seen was 270, and that’s unusually high. Most of my classes had 40 students at most.
      Your fourth point is absurd. A&M has over 800 different groups and clubs. Aggies obviously do many things other than “stupid football.” Also, just because you don’t like sports doesn’t mean they suck. If the majority of people at a school like football (which they do at A&M), then football will be a big deal there.
      As to your fifth point, Aggies don’t have bad sportsmanship, they have school spirit. No one ever has “killed their own blood” over a basketball game, ergo they are not that “desperate.” Duh. So what if we like to cheer and support our team? That’s a good thing! After the game is over, we congratulate our opponents for a good game and go on with the lives which, yes, we do actually have.
      Finally, I know this is nit picking, but it’s a huge pet peeve of mine. You say “I could care less” twice in your comment. The correct expression is “couldn’t care less.” If you could care less than you do, you clearly must care at least a little. Misusing a common expression like this (in addition to your grammatical errors) makes you look like an uneducated simpleton.

  8. Wait, you don’t like A&M because it is too big, but you prefer texas which is larger? Do I have that right?

    Also, you don’t like sports? So you are just a “engineering-computer-physics” nerd of some sort? Of course you consider all the people that went to A&M snobs, because you were obviously some dork in high school who didn’t have any friends. What makes that really sad is you are some computer dork who doesn’t like sports….yet you could only get in to Tarleton hahaha…so you aren’t even one of the smart nerds. That is really, really sad.

  9. Yeah, I stopped reading at “I go to Tarleton”. I suppose your manager at McDonald’s gave you a break from the griddle to write that drivel but I suggest you get back to it. Who knows, with that Tarleton degree you just might make Assistant Manager this year! Fingers crossed!

    Leave the university talk to those of us with degrees from actual schools and not ones received through mail orders.

  10. I thought Tarleton was a type of cigarette. Was the school named after the cigarette or the cigarette after the school? Either way – I love history, cool stuff.

  11. Just reading this post explains all I need to know about you. You are pissed that you didn’t get accepted to A&M because you obviously couldn’t make the grade, and you don’t have an athletic bone in your body hence your hatred towards sports. Our sports fans are some of the best fans in the nation, but you wouldn’t know this because you hate sports, right? Next time get your facts straight.

    Best Universities
    Top Engineering Colleges
    Ranking by graduateshotline.com 2009

    1 Massachusetts Inst of Technology
    2 Stanford University
    3 University of California-Berkeley
    4 California Institute Technology
    5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    6 Georgia Institute of Technology
    7 University of Michigan
    8 Cornell University
    9 Carnegie Mellon University
    10 University of Texas at Austin
    11 Purdue University
    12 University of California- San Diego
    13 University of California- Los Angeles
    14 Texas A&M University

  12. My brother named his dick Tarleton because he said it’s always limp and hasn’t come close to the promised land.

  13. A few people have pointed out most of your inconsistancies. My question referes to you last paragraph.

    “Many of my friends who went to A&M ended up going through hell.”

    Could this be because they were pushed and challenged far more than anything you could see at Tarleton? I am an aggie engineer. I suffered through it and am better off for it. A lot of my reward comes through my financial compensation and job responsibilities. Whats funny about the real world is that there is a definate correlation between what school an individual went to, their intelligence and their potential for success. An A&M degree is a strong indicator that the individual who earned it is a smart person who isn’t afraid of a challenge.

    Students who come to A&M had their choice of schools and the winning % of the football team probably didn’t factor into their decision process that much.

    To bring this back to point, there is nothing wrong with demanding excellence. The most successful people in the world didn’t get to where they are through mediocraty.

  14. Pingback: The Elephant(walk) in the Room –or- How The Hell To Get the Damn Ags On TV « Hellspawned Javelinas

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