From Texas A&M Athletics…
COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Texas A&M University and the University of Arkansas, along with the Dallas Cowboys’ organization, have agreed to a new long-term series to play the annual football game between the two schools at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington beginning in 2014 and continuing through the 2024 season.
Texas A&M and Arkansas had played the Southwest Classic three times in a 10-year neutral site non-conference series beginning in 2009 at Cowboys Stadium. With the Aggies’ move to the Southeastern Conference, the game is now a Western Division contest and the 2012 game will be played at Kyle Field, with the 2013 contest scheduled for the Razorbacks’ home stadium.
“We appreciate Jerry Jones and everyone in the Cowboys’ organization working with us over the past year concerning the future of the Arkansas series at Cowboys Stadium. This was a significant, unresolved issue as part of our transition to the SEC, and it was imperative for Texas A&M to play Arkansas at Kyle Field this season – our first as a member of the conference,” said Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. “Having a game annually in the MetroPlex is very advantageous for Texas A&M from a visibility and recruiting standpoint, and we have an annual opportunity for our student-athletes to experience one of the country’s finest football stadiums.”
The last meeting at Kyle Field between the two schools was Nov. 16, 1991 as part of the Southwest Conference, with Texas A&M winning, 13-3, in a game nationally televised by ESPN. The Razorbacks came out in the wishbone formation on offense that day, but the Wrecking Crew held the Hogs to 121 yards of total offense.
The two schools first met on the gridiron in 1903 with Texas A&M winning, 6-0. Texas A&M and Arkansas were part of the inaugural group of eight schools that formed the Southwest Conference in 1915. From 1934 through 1991, the teams met every season as part of the Southwest Conference. Arkansas withdrew from the league in 1991 to join the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M was part of the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996 and has joined the SEC in 2012.
First, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. A&M wanted to play in College Station this season, but they were under contract to play Arkansas in Dallas for at least six more seasons. Strapped for home games because of the difficulty of scheduling their first SEC season, Arkansas agreed to a one time home-and-home set of games between the two, but it was no secret that the Razorback administration wanted to keep this game in Dallas.
However, over time, this game could grow to become one of the nation’s premier annual contests, and it helps with the exposure of both Arkansas and Texas A&M in the metroplex. With A&M and LSU on either side of Houston, it’s not very likely that A&M’s popularity will wane in that city, but exposure in the metroplex could have been a problem for the Aggies without playing games in that area (and not playing other teams from Texas.)
Imagine if you’re an elite high school prospect playing the weekend of the Arkansas and A&M game in Dallas and you see one of those coaches on your sideline on Friday Night. If this game grows to the heights the two schools hope it will, it could grow into a big recruiting tool for both schools.
The downside of course is that the Aggies lose a home game every other year against one of their biggest rivals in the SEC. However, annual neutral site rivalry games like Texas and Oklahoma and Georgia and Florida have become staples of College Football season. I think the longterm positive outweighs what might be a short term negative for this event. Over time,A&M fans will get used to the annual game in Dallas, and if the A&M football team can become a perennial contender this game could be one of the biggest of the football slate each year.