|MOB Pearl Harbor Day, Rice
vs. Texas A&M, November 17, 1973
A&M-Rice game was played on a gray, mid-November day in Houston. Led by
sophomore QB Tommy Kramer in his career break-out game, the Owls stunned the Aggies by
rolling to a 17-0 halftime lead. The natives were restless. Then out came the
Rice band. They had in mind what their leaders thought a gentle parody of A&M and its
traditions--much the same as a spoof which was cheered on by University of Texas fans
earlier in the year at Memorial Stadium.
In Austin, the band had come out banging the
"world's smallest drum"--a parody of UT's Big Bertha. The cum-Texas-Cowboy
"flag bearers" bore rag mops. The crowd loved it. This time, the
band's parody featured a dastardly bill of particulars:
- The Rice drum major wore rubber boots, in parody of A&M's cadet
- The band formed a fireplug, in reference to A&M's collie
mascot, Reveille, while a twirler paraded with an empty leash and the band played, "Where,
oh Where has my Little Dog Gone?"
- The band wore an unmilitary motley assortment of headgear, at at
one time actually (gasp!) goose-stepped down the field.
- The band formed a ragged A&M block-T, to the tune, not of the War
Hymn, but to the March of the Wooden Soldiers.
End of show. Silly Joe-College humor.
The kind of stuff Ivy League bands did every week. But fighting words, apparently, to a
raft of A&M fans-- cadet corps and middle-aged ladies in maroon pantsuits as
well. The Aggie Band pushed through the Rice group back into the stands.
Ice, epithets and not a few fists flew. The mood remained ugly throughout the second
half. The fired-up Aggies came storming back With a minute or so left in the
game, they scored, to take a 20-17 lead. ("We've got 'em now. That'll show
those g-d COMMUNISTS!!").
But Rice deep man Carl Swierc took the ensuing kickoff, bounced
through a hole and raced 100 yards for a Rice touchdown! Victory literally was
snatched from the jaws of defeat. And then things turned really nasty, as the game
ended. A crowd of perhaps a thousand Aggies charged the Rice band. The band
members collectively ducked for the tunnel beneath the south end zone. There they
held, Aggies furiously pounding at the doors. And they stayed. And
stayed. Hours and hours.
The whole story
of the day, with its anticlimactical denouement, is told first-hand by then-Rice Thresher
editor and Mob member Steve Jackson. It's an interesting read. But perhaps the main
story of the event lay in its retelling over the years. In A&M lore, the actions
of the MOB became more and more heinous as the years went on: It was told that they
had made fun specifically of a recently- deceased mascot. That they had descrated
the memory of Aggie war dead. That an American flag was burnt during the
The truth, of course, is much more tame. But the unpleasant
developments were reflective of the fact that the behavior of the irreverent
Owlies had been a major irritant to the Aggies for years--one which apparently continues
to this day.
The Steve Jackson-Dana Blankenhorn Thresher
A Houston Post
column by Mickey Herskowitz on the event
John Gladu letter to
the Houston Post editor, October, 1993, recounting the A&M rumors
(For more details on the incident, see Fedora, the Online Magazine of the
Marching Owl Band)