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Aggies, like 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.

mobgw.jpg (13587 bytes)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 what happened.look.gif (907 bytes)

1957 Owl Win Knocks Aggies from "Sure-Thing" National
Championship

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.

riceam57.jpg (10278 bytes)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?

 

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