Disclaimer: Before I get started, I think everyone needs a little background. I lived in College Station for 7 years. My wife and I both have degrees from A&M. My daughter was born in College Station. Both of my dogs are from College Station. I’ve got good memories from my time in Texas.
I have several close Aggie friends. They are some of the best people I’ve met, and they love A&M like I love Clemson. In fact, most of them are casual Clemson fans because they made the trip in 2005. You’ll find Aggies to be some of the most accommodating and friendly people you’ll ever meet.
With that said, if you’re one of my Aggie friends, I suggest you stop reading right now. Just close up the old browser and check my article next week. If you continue reading after this point, it’s on you. Consider yourself warned, and remember, it’s all in good fun.
I’ve lived numerous places over the years. I grew up in Aiken, spent 5 glorious years at Clemson, did a 3 year stint in Knoxville, enjoyed the low country life for 3 seafood filled years in Beaufort, and I currently reside in Manhattan, KS.
College Station is by far the worst place I’ve lived; it’s not even close. The town is a charmless series of strip malls, high rise student apartments, and concrete lots. I’ve sat here for the last 20 minutes trying to come up with one redeeming feature of that God awful town, and all I could come up with is the joy in knowing I’ll never have to live there again.
There are so few trees in College Station that the bigger ones have names. If you check out the A&M campus, you’ll hear talk of “The Century Tree.” It’s nothing special, just a live oak someone forgot to cut down until it got too big and became a “tradition.” In Aiken we call trees like “The Century Tree” “That live oak in the side yard that keeps dropping branches.” Locals might point at something and call it a tree, but what they’re really describing is a tall bush. You would think trees would be a valued commodity in a town where the summer temperatures continually sit above the century mark and the wind feels like a hot blow dryer, but as soon as a tree gets tall enough to provide the tiniest spec of shade, it gets immediately cut down.
There are no zoning ordinances in College Station, so it’s a free for all when it comes to housing. I lived next to an area of town called “the historic district” near campus. I watched as developers bought up every “historic” house, brought in the bulldozer and replaced them with student housing mini-mansion abominations. The street that was designated a “bike route” when I moved into my house was nothing more than a parking lot for bro-trucks by the time I moved out. Aggies are all about “history” and “tradition” unless there is a buck to be made by bulldozing “history” and “tradition.”
I mentioned the weather in College Station already, but it’s so miserable that I need to come back around and hit it one more time. The summers in College Station are like living in a convection oven, and the summers last from April to October. I grew up in Aiken. I thought I was ready for the heat, and I was wrong. You’re never dry. You wake up sweating and go to bed sweating, and in between you hope you don’t run out of Gold Bond, because swamp ass is relentless. In fact, if you’re heading out to the game on Saturday, go ahead and pack the industrial bottle of Gold Bond and a change of underwear. Chafing is real and will ruin your day.
Finally, lets talk about College Station traffic. I’m still trying to adjust my departure times after serving my 7 year stint. If I need to be across town at 5, I still catch my self leaving at 4:00, even if I’m only driving 3 miles. Texas A&M has an enrollment of 63,293 students at the main campus, 95% of them drive trucks, and 100% are terrible drivers. While Texas A&M has continually increased admissions, College Station has done nothing to improve the surrounding infrastructure. Roads that were designed to handle the roughly 40,000 students that attended A&M in 2000 are the same roads trying to handle the 63,292 students in 2018. It’s an absolute nightmare. Do yourself a favor. If you’re planning on doing anything in College Station on Friday. Avoid driving between the hours of 7 - 10 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. You’re not going to get anywhere and your chances of getting rear ended by an 5’2, 18 year old girl driving an F-350 are about 50%.
Needless to say, I hate College Station.
The Land of Bro Country
Have you ever stopped and wondered how Florida/Georgia Line and Luke Bryan sell so many records while being totally devoid of any discernible musical talent? You can go ahead and blame most of that on Texas A&M. You see, Texas A&M is the home of bro country and cowboy posers.
These cowbros and cowbroettes might walk around in a Johnny Cash shirt because they think it adds to their country cred, but if you press them, they might be able to hum the chorus of Ring of Fire. If, however, you are so inclined, go ahead and whisper “baby you a song” and you’ll have an entire corps of Aggies belting out the lyrics to Cruise. If they’re really feeling country that day, a few of them might even rap the Nelly part from the remix (note: I had to look this up on my computer, I put chrome in incognito mode). These kids might claim Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson in public, but if you look through their iTunes account, the closest thing you’re going to find to classic country is Rascal Flatts.
You know, it’s sad that this new generation of Aggies have fallen so far from their country roots. Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett both graduated from A&M in 1980, and wrote “The Front Porch Song” together. If you listen to the song, and end up heading to the game, you can head over to downtown Bryan and get a sweet tea at the La Salle hotel (or a good drink at the bar if you’re so inclined). Sadly, you’re just as likely to hear Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett coming out of an Aggie’s stereo as you are to see a load of brush in the back of their pickup truck, and I hate that.
I’ll tell you what, Jimbo might not be able to put together a competent coaching staff or offensive line, but the man knows how to pick an agent. Jimbo’s agent turned an abysmal 6-6 season at Florida State into a guaranteed 75 million dollars at Texas A&M, and I can respect that. If someone’s willing to pay you more than you’re worth, I see no moral issues with taking them for every penny they’re willing to give you. Good on Jimbo and good on his agent.
Let’s go ahead and plainly say what happened to Jimbo at Florida State though. Dabo drove Jimbo out of Florida like St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Jimbo knew that even with all the built in advantages of coaching in Florida, and all the history of Florida State football, he just wasn’t good enough to compete with the juggernaut Dabo has at Clemson. Instead of staying in the ACC and fighting it out with NC. State and Louisville for second in the division, Jimbo drug his Christmas tree to the curb and skipped town at his earliest opportunity.
This is how I imagine Jimbo’s agent working Texas A&M:
Agent: Look here fellas, I’ve got something special for you today. I’ve got a coach with a National Championship and I’m willing to let him sign with you today.
A&M (with wide eyes): You’ve got a coach with a National Championship, and you’re willing to let him sign with us?
Agent: Yes sir, let me tell you, 5 years ago he was the finest coach in the game. Took his boys all the way to top. Yes sir, he’s one hell of a coach!
A&M (with a hint of suspicion): What’s been going on the last 4 years? Why would a coach with a National Championship want to leave his job?
Agent: Let’s not worry about the last 4 years right now, at least not until you meet him. Jimbo, come on out here and meet Texas A&M.
Jimbo (walking out in a 10 gallon hat, maroon pearl snap shirt, skin tight wranglers, and snake skin cowboy boots): Howdy!
A&M: Howdy Jimbo!
Jimbo (speaking in fast forward): Boys, I tell you what. I’d love to coach at your fine school, it’s like I always say, now I had some problems last year, but problems aren’t always problems, sometimes problems are solutions, and I want to be your solution, because solutions are just problems turned on their head and I just had problems and now I’m a solution, you boys see how that works?
A&M (looking at the agent): What did he say?
Agent: Jimbo said he’d love to coach your team.
A&M: Coach, let me ask you something. What happened last year at FSU?
Jimbo (speaking even faster): Now let me tell you about last year, sometimes you lose your quarterback and then your facilities are run down, and you know, you can’t win em all and other teams are good and sometimes the sun gets in your eyes just right and you can’t see, and listen, have you even been constipated because I was constipated for an entire year and when you can’t poop you can’t win, but I’m pooping fine now, yes sir, I just did some fine pooping in your bathroom and I probably wouldn’t go in there for a little while because I ate some tasty Mexican food last night, you know, I couldn’t get decent Mexican food in Tallahassee and it’s just tough because you want Mexican food and you can’t get any and then you can’t win football games and you can’t poop because your quarterback got hurt and your facilities aren’t up to snuff, but then you go someplace else and they have Mexican food and facilities and your quarterback doesn’t get hurt and you’re popping good, and the other teams aren’t as good and you rise to your own occasion not your opponents occasion and then the sun isn’t in your eyes and you win a National Championship at the new school.
A&M (looking at the agent): What did he say?
Agent: He said things just didn’t break right for him last year, but he’s ready to take A&M to a National Championship.
Agent (looking at Jimbo): Jimbo, why don’t you get on out of here and let me handle the business end of this deal.
Jimbo: Nods, his hat falls, off, he picks it up and exits stage right
A&M: How much?
Agent: Since he’s coming off a tough year, you can have him for 100 million over 10 years.
A&M: 100 million seems like a lot of money.
Agent: Can you really put a price tag on a National Championship? I was hoping to make a deal, but if you don’t want him, we’ll go somewhere else. I was told you guys had unlimited resources, but I guess I heard wrong.
A&M: Now, hold on a second. We can’t do 100 right now, but we’re willing to do 75.
Agent (unable to control the grin on his face): 75 million, that’s tough, we really wanted 100, but I’ll tell you what, because Jimbo likes you, and really likes cowboy hats, we’ll do it for 75 million (pauses) fully guaranteed.
A&M: That sounds like a deal. Where do we sign?
Jimbo’s agent could smell Texas A&M’s desperation from all the way in Tallahassee, and really, I kind of hate desperation.
Texas A&M Football (Seriously Aggie fans, don’t read this part)
Now it’s time to take aim at Aggie football, and honestly, it’s a huge target. I feel just like an Aggie out “hunting” on a high fence game ranch in South Texas. There are plenty of targets standing around the feeder but you only have so many bullets.
When you think about it, Texas A&M is just like our feathered friends in Columbia. Granted, unlike South Carolina, the A&M trophy case is littered with a few dusty trophies, but just like South Carolina, Texas A&M left a conference it helped found to escape the shadow of a more prestigious in-state program, only to become cannon fodder in the SEC.
In fact, Texas A&M is going to make me do something that I’ve never done before. I’m going to compliment South Carolina football. You see, while South Carolina slunk off to the SEC to escape Clemson’s shadow, at least they had the stones to keep Clemson on the schedule. Sure, South Carolina knows they’ve got an annual beating scheduled for Thanksgiving, but at least they take their beating and come back for more, if nothing else (and I assure you, there is nothing else to respect), you’ve got to respect their tenacity. Texas A&M left the Big 12 to escape the shadow of Texas, and now they refuse to play Texas for...reasons.
Think about this folks, in 2011 Texas walked into College Station, beat the Aggies and walked out with eternal bragging rights. Could you imagine living in a world where your biggest rival, a school you specifically mention in your fight song, can perpetually point at the scoreboard and laugh? I honestly can’t even fathom it.
Texas A&M will tell you all about traditions, but if you’re looking to hit a sore spot, ask them about their traditional Thanksgiving game with Texas. They’ll look down, mumble something about recruiting, and then tell you how much money their football program makes. Of course, you and I know better than to buy any of that bad bull.
Deep in their hearts, they know that even though they’re a middle of the road team in the prestigious S-E-C! and Texas can’t figure out how to win football games in the Big 12, they’re still in the Longhorns’ shadow, and they’re scared that they’re going to keep losing, so they won’t play Texas, because if you don’t play Texas, you can’t lose to Texas.
I’ll tolerate a lot of things, but I hate fear, and Texas A&M, despite all their talk about “sawing em’ off” is afraid to play Texas.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Honestly, I love my Texas A&M folks, and my years in College Station, although trying at times, provided me with some of the best moments in my life. If you’re lucky enough to make it to College Station this weekend. I can guarantee you’re going to have a good time. You won’t find a more accommodating fan base in the nation. I just hope they’ll let me in at my normal tailgate. You know me, I’m just really good at pushing buttons. This was all in good fun.