Texas A&M vs. South Carolina: A historic rivalry in the works

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The SEC has some of the best cross-divisional rivalries in college football. Florida-LSU, Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia are great rivalries that have made their mark on the SEC football culture over the years.

When the SEC expanded back in 2012, the SEC had to wrestle with new scheduling dynamics as it worked to preserve existing rivalries while integrating two new football teams into the conference.

The new rivalry of Texas A&M vs. South Carolina, which began with the first meeting in 2014, was one of the byproducts of conference expansion.

The permanent cross-divisional rivalry means that under the current scheduling framework, Texas A&M will play South Carolina every year, even though the Aggies only play two SEC East teams per year. Each SEC team plays 8 conference games (6 within its own division, 1 permanent cross-divisional team and 1 rotating cross-divisional team).

Perhaps the best part of the permanent nature of such a rivalry is that the fan bases really get to know each other.

South Carolina vs. Texas A&M began with a bang when South Carolina welcomed its new rival, Texas A&M, to town back in 2014. Aggies from all over the southeast converged onto Columbia, S.C., and even held their historic “Yell Practice” on the steps of the South Carolina state house the night before the game.

What a great moment of college football showcasing an awesome tradition to a new group of fans.

Similarly, one of South Carolina’s traditions for home games is the line of tailgating cabooses adjacent to Williams-Brice Stadium.

Back in 1990, local businessman Ed Robinson bought 22 cabooses from Illinois Central Railroad and had them placed right along Williams-Brice. The cars sit and fans tailgate in and around them on game day. It’s one of the most unique setups in all of college football.

Not long ago, our Saturday Down South correspondent had the opportunity to visit one of these “Cockabooses” firsthand:

Football, fans, food … it all factors into the overall experience (don’t forget the Bud Light). When you combine two new fan bases like South Carolina and Texas A&M year after year, you create a new dynamic … a new rivalry with its own characteristics.

But like any new rivalry, there’s quite a bit of history lacking. The history is what provides the anchors from which fan experiences and memories hang. Auburn and Georgia fans can all recall when Georgia won on a 4th-and-15 play in the final moments of the 2002 game. Florida and LSU fans can recall the crazy fake field goals and wild finishes over the years.

Cross-divisional rivalries take time to mature and grow. As the years pass, these moments will also happen for South Carolina vs. Texas A&M both on the field and off.

However, even though South Carolina and Texas A&M have only met twice, the first meeting of the teams and fan bases provided quite a launching point for a great rivalry moving forward. Fans of both programs will recall the moments in Columbia, S.C., back in 2014 surrounding the first game.

It might be another decade (or two) before we start to call this a great SEC rivalry, but we expect that it will, in fact, become a great SEC rivalry.

As for our friends at Bud Light, they continue the Bud Light Down South tour this week in Columbia. Since it’s expected to be sunny and near 90 on Saturday, we’d suggest you keep a couple cold ones with you at all times!

If you’re in Columbia, don’t forget to check them out at the tailgate on the corner of Garland and Bluff starting at noon.

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COMMENTS

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  • That awkward moment when A&M students do not care about SC in the slightest.

  • Rubbish. The Old School rivalries may always stand. Just can’t ax AL-TN or the like. But expansion created rivalries are expendable. When AR joined in 92 SC and TN were their permanent cross divs with one rotating. Iconinc matches such as the “stumble fumble” and the “redemption” meant nothing when the SEC changed the rotation from 1 rotator to 2. The tradition AR established of dragging Lou Holtz to LR every other year so the faithful could have a closed bowl in which to scream at him was seemingly not considered to count for much during the last expansion when SC was given to A&M and replaced with MO on the Hogs permanent Schedule. The Battle for the Boot which had became a staple day after Thanksgiving event was pi$$ed away in favor of the ARMOgeddon game. So, while yes, I agree new rivalries do develop behind expansion (although Saturday’s game my not see SC cross the 50 until A&M has their third string D on the field) don’t think for a minute any credence will be given any but the ancient cross divs mentioned in your first paragraph. If and when the SEC expands to 16 teams, realignment will take precedence over any rivalry established post 1992.

  • There is no rivalry between A&M and USCe. Just a trophy that was invented to force-inject some meaning in to this game. If they wanted a good rivalry, they should have matched TAM -Mizz. Been going on for decades, and is cross divisional.