elephants, never forget.
Rice band mischief in '73 was a day to live in A&M infamy--
but only one of a number of fowl deeds visited on cadets
by the Institute boys over the years.
It was 1973. The Rice band had only
initiated its "scatter band" approach a couple of years earlier--it was a
pioneer in that regard, along with Stanford, Dartmouth and Princeton. This
was a time of political polarization, and the bizarre behavior of the obviously
left-leaning Rice minions were looked upon with much suspicion by A&M faithful.
There was unrest afoot on the gridiron, as well, as a late-60s Aggie Cotton Bowl win had
been followed by disappointing results despite high hopes in A&M's new coach Emory
Bellard, the inventor of the wishbone offense.
The events of the day have been talked about--mostly
exaggerated and complained about--for the last 25 years. Here's
1957 Owl Win Knocks Aggies from "Sure-Thing" National
Coming off probation, and in the wake of a 9-0-1 1956
season, the Bear Bryant-led Texas Aggies bowled through the first eight games of the 1957
season, taking over the number-one spot in the polls after beating Maryland, 28-12, in
late September. By mid-November, the Aggies were undefeated in 15 straight games and
only two more separated them from a national championship: the first, in Houston, with
Rice, and then, on Thanksgiving, in College Station, against Texas. Rice was a
question mark: not considered a strong contender, pre-season, they had fallen to a
mediocre Texas team but managed to slip by the rest of their conference opponents.
Two Owls shared the quarterback spot, King Hill and Frank Ryan. The Owls had no answer for
A&M's Heisman Trophy-winning John David Crow.
Confidence was high among the A&M
faithful as 72,000 packed Rice Stadium. But Rice took a 7-0 lead early and held
on. A&M scored late, but missed the extra point. Owl QB King Hill scored
the TD, kicked the extra point and had a key interception. 7-6 was the final score.
A&M's national championship hopes were dashed. The next week, a demoralized Ag team
lost at home to rookie coach Darrell Royal, 9-7, and thus the Aggies missed even a chance
to go to the Cotton Bowl (which instead went to the Owls), settling for a loss in the
Gator Bowl, and finishing 8-3.
That weekend in Houston was a bad one for the Ags. Bear
Bryant had met secretly at the Rice Hotel with University of Alabama representatives.
Minutes after the Texas game, the Bear announced he was returning home to Alabama. The
Aggies continued on to only one winning season in the next 16 years, their worst drought
in school history. If A&M had beaten Rice and won out, would Bryant have stayed
and established the dynasty he was to go on and create at Alabama?