Scooter Hobbs column: Hate to lose budding A&M rivalry

Published 10:00 am Friday, November 26, 2021

So this comes just when things were looking so promising, too …

Just when it looked like LSU had finally found a true, mutually hated rival it could count on to be there year after year.

After years as a true-rival bridesmaid — No. 2 on Alabama’s hate list to Auburn; always runner-up to Ole Miss’ Egg Bowl thing with Mississippi State — Texas A&M was starting to catch on.

It was checking all the boxes.

It even had a nice ring to it — LSU-A&M. Or A&M-LSU if you prefer.

They even go after enough of the same players to keep the recruiting degenerates occupied.

There’s probably as much fan base overlap geographically as with any LSU opponent.

The oil patch probably had something to do with it.

Les Miles, as I recall, even tried to get a trophy thing going with some sort of oversized, rusty, lug wrench from offshore.

Never really materialized, probably would have been trying too hard anyway.

I always figured the silliness of “The Boot,” complete with giggling, killed any chance LSU and Arkansas had of getting any real animosity rolling.

But with LSU and Texas A&M, there’s enough ancient history that they needed no introduction, dating to 1899.

So they were getting there honestly, with malice, even if most of the recent games have been afterthoughts taking a back seat to full-blown coaching rumors.

LSU dominated early after the Aggies joined the SEC, even solving the early Johnny “Football” Manziel dilemma that baffled the rest of the conference.

The really bizarre stuff started in 2015, when the Aggies were in Baton Rouge to witness Tiger Stadium — knowingly or unknowingly, on purpose or unintended consequences — saved Miles’ job, all but forcing a hastily called third-quarter LSU Board of Supervisors meeting.

Some later reported remorse and it didn’t take, so the crazy scene shifted to College Station the next year, where interim LSU coach Ed Orgeron was coaching his butt off to get the full-time gig — even as LSU wheeled and dealed with Jimbo Fisher, ultimately got turned down and then got outbid by Texas for Tom Herman.

Somehow a game was played even as this was going on in the smoke-filled rooms at the exact same moment, and LSU’s 54-39 victory was enough for Coach to win the consolation prize.

It was the next year before Texas A&M, of all folks, finally won the Jimbo Sweepstakes, which caused some hard feelings on this side of the Sabine.

In fact, it was current LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward, then doing a toe-tap at A&M, who finally landed the Jumbo Jimbo Fish.

This is the kind of petty stuff of which rivalries are made, but at some point something memorable has to happen ON THE FIELD, preferably with hard feelings involved.

Right on schedule came 2018 and the Aggies’ first SEC win in the series— a controversial seven-overtime marathon in which the Tigers are glad to point out at least seven clear instances in which they were robbed.

The Tigers’ national championship team drew 50-7 worth of revenge the following season and last year was an ugly all-around Aggies victory.

So, of course, the stage is set Saturday with another lame-duck LSU coach and a Tigers fan base that still has visions of Jimbo dancing in their heads.

Rumor has it A&M may leave Fisher at home for fear of him being kidnapped and stuffed with hundreds of millions of Louisiana dollars.

If that’s not the kind of thing to seal a blood rivalry with, I don’t know what is.

But if it sounds too good to be true …

Oh, ye Tigers, don’t get too attached to the Aggies.

Asks around. Check with their friends.

You can’t really depend on them to make you No. 1 on the hate list, to get them to focus solely on you.

It will seem like bliss. But they will, the word is, get those wandering eyes.

And probably sooner than later.

Oh, the LSU-A&M thing can carry on for a couple or three more years.

Probably be some great games.

But don’t count on a longtime love-to-hate relationship.

Maybe you heard, but the University of Texas is scheduled to join the SEC at its earliest convenience.

As soon as Texas is an option, the Aggies will drop LSU like a hot boudin.

But enjoy it while it lasts.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com