HOOVER, Ala. — Texas A&M’s rivalry plate is pretty full right now.
The Aggies’ monster schedule this season includes what likely will be the nation’s top three-ranked teams — in some order — Clemson, Alabama and Georgia.
But the idle chatter about renewing the long-standing rivalry with the Texas Longhorns appears to be just a product of the summer “talking season.”
“Only if it benefits Texas A&M,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said Tuesday. “I know we’re scheduled out right now for ten years.”
LSU is another matter, and both sides seem to be jockeying for position, particularly in last season’s somewhat controversial 7-overtime thriller that the Aggies won 74-72.
“I think it was huge for our team to be able to get through that,” Fisher said. “I think that was very big for our program. It helped us establish something.”
It was the Aggies’ first win over LSU in seven tries in the series since joining the SEC in 2012.
So of course the budding rivalry flared up on twitter Tuesday.
At SEC Media Days A&M quarterback Kellen Mond said that “You could see a lot of the LSU players were cramping. And obviously we were standing tall on both sides of the ball.”
Former Tiger Tre-Davious White, who was already a Buffalo Bill when the game was played last November, was quick to respond:
“Stop it!!,” he said to Mond via twitter. “Boy, that was y’all first time beating us since y’all joined SEC!! Then stormed the field like y’all won the Natty (national championship).”
So the rivalry stage may be set, particularly after LSU recently hired native son Scott Woodward as its athletic director — away from Texas A&M, where among other things he hired Fisher.
Fisher was a rarity, a popular offensive coordinator at LSU under both Nick Saban and the first two years of Les Miles. Rumors swirled that he was coming back to Baton Rouge each of the two seasons before Woodward hired him as the Aggies’ prize catch.
The two were close during Fisher’s LSU days when Woodward worked in school’s administration. Now Woodward is back at LSU, which should add some spice.
“If I can get Scott coaching (the game), that would be better,” Fisher said with laugh. “No, it is. That used to be a rivalry, and I think it is. We’re so close.
“You had one of the epic games in college football history. It was very unique,and I think it will bud into rivalries.”
Last year’s game might be the catalyst for what seems like a natural.
The game finally ended when A&M got a mulligan on a 2-point conversion following a controversial pass interference penalty on the Tigers.
It was the last in a series of late calls that went against the Tigers, though most of the others were more bad luck than bad calls.
“I had the pick that wasn’t, the fumble that wasn’t,” LSU’s Grant Delpit remembered. Either would have ended the game. But his interception was overturned when it was ruled that Mond’s knee was down before throwing the pick; on his fumble recovery the pass was ruled incomplete on a bang-bang play. But Delpit paused and chose his words carefully when asked if the best team didn’t win.
“The ... team that made the fewest mistakes won,” he said with a tight lip.
“They got us last year,” he continued. “It’s definitely going to mean more to me, and we’ve got them at home. We’re definitely going to be hyped up.”
“I think the way last year’s game ended added something to the rivalry,” he said. “I think it’s a game that I’m going to be looking forward to, our players are looking forward to. Obviously, we felt that we should have won that game three or four times, but that’s done.”
But a full-blown rivalry?
“Rivalries come when both teams are good,” Fisher said. “ I think we are building our program to be good. LSU is established as a great program. I think that’s how rivalries are made.
“Just like everybody talks about the LSU-Alabama rivalry. That wasn’t a rivalry when we first went to LSU years ago. Then it evolved. Then Alabama came back. Two good programs evolved into that. I think that is what is happening here.”
“It will make it fun.”