Texas Monthly Tries to Get Clever about Texas A&M Football; Fails Miserably
It has become something of a fad recently to point out things that everyone has known about Texas A&M football for quite some time—usually things of a genus shared by almost every other tradition-rich college football program—and pretend they are novel and particularly worthy of ridicule. This doubtless is due to the downturn of the Texas A&M football team over the past couple of years—not to draw yet another comparison between Texas A&M football and Clemson, but people weren’t making fun of the Tigers jogging down a hill and releasing a bunch of balloons as their entrance when they were playing really well.
Presumably hoping to capitalize on this trend, someone over at Texas Monthly decided to write… something. It’s hard to say what this actually is.
It’s not hard to say what it’s going for: a cheeky, old-fashioned ribbing of an in-state program; creatively, from the viewpoint of an interview with an entity that is as close to a mascot that can speak as the school has: Ol’ Sarge. A joke; a jape, even.
The plain fact is that whoever wrote this (it is attributed simply to “Texas Monthly” in the article), put as charitably as possible, did so in the most patently un-funny way possible.
It is tough to slog through this whole thing due to the sheer second-hand embarrassment one feels when reading several of the lines. I myself had to click away just to be spared of the experience midway through multiple lines. It’s a similar sensation to seeing a first-time stand up comic, brimming with confidence, take the stage and begin to read zingers from Clean Jokes for Kids with all the self-assured airs of one who is clearly convinced they are absolutely slaying.
Let’s take a look at some of this comedy gold.
"Texas Monthly: Hello, Ol’ Sarge. Thanks for chatting with us. What are your thoughts on the controversy at the journalism school?Ol’ Sarge: Beats the hell outta Ol’ Sarge. Talk about your hullabaloos! Caneck! Caneck! Whoop! TM: And that pharmacy professor who was temporarily suspended?OS: Hoo boy. Can Ol’ Sarge get a whoop!?"
I’m tempted to make all of my interstitials simply a link to this image, but I will not do that.
For those of you not quite aware of what the writer is referencing, they are a couple of university-level controversies that were inevitably made into political ones. That’s about all there is to them. Not much to do with Texas A&M football.
"TM: Surely an old gridiron fan like you has something to say about the football team’s troubles?OS: It’s some bad bull, indeed, as we say here in Aggieland. Whoop! Farmers fight!"
Hey, I get it! He keeps doing the yells! Guys, the yells. From Texas A&M football, remember? Do you remember the yells
"TM: You know, Ol’ Sarge, it feels like you’re not really engaging with my questions. Don’t you have anything substantial to say about any of this?OS: Whoop! Caneck! Caneck! Hullaba—aw, heck, yer right. The truth is, Ol’ Sarge is distraught about what’s been going on here in College Station, and it’s not always easy for him to be honest about his feelings. He wasn’t raised by the most emotionally available people, you know?"
2) From what I can tell, the main joke here—and throughout the rest of the article—is an attempted juxtaposition of the Ol’ Sarge character’s perceived persona (via his drawings, I guess, as he is not a real person with a real personality) and the types of things that someone quite different might say, like “emotionally available.” Isn’t that funny? Aren’t you laughing? Why aren’t you laughing?
"TM: Consider this interview a safe space where you can speak your truth."
I read this and fist pumped so hard it jostled a cable loose from my monitor and I had to spend the next ten minutes trying to get everything plugged back in.
"OS: The fact is, Ol’ Sarge has been so dismayed by the doings here in Aggieland that he’s been thinking of looking for work at a different school.TM: Whoa! A&M-Commerce? A&M-Kingsville? West Texas A&M?OS: UT-Austin.TM: Wait, what? Ol’ Sarge, you’ve spent nearly a century mocking the Longhorns! You can’t just pick up and switch sides.OS: You don’t think it would go over too well?TM: No.OS: Well, do you know of any school that has an opening in its comp lit department? Ol’ Sarge wouldn’t mind trying his hand at exposing impressionable undergrads to the novels of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Nathalie Sarraute.TM: Wait, Ol’ Sarge is a scholar of Nouveau Roman literature?"
This is a point where I found myself, fingers tented in front of my face, staring off into the middle distance, considering not only what sorts of life choices the author made that would drag him or her into writing something like this, but what sort of life choices I have made that have led me to reading it. Something, somewhere up the line, must have gone horribly wrong.
"OS: Just because I’m a career soldier you think I can’t appreciate the stylings of mid-twentieth-century European avant-garde fiction? Maybe you should check your privilege, young man!TM: At ease, Ol’ Sarge. You’re getting pretty worked up.OS: My apologies. It’s just brutal witnessing the deterioration of the institution I’ve devoted my entire life to. Also, Ol’ Sarge forgot to stop by the CBD store yesterday. Can’t get through the week without his gummies, you know?"
These few lines evoked a very particular kind of horror: the type when you see someone on a trash reality TV show who likes eating sand, or considers themselves in a relationship with a Ferris wheel, or whatever. Is there really someone out there like this? I think to myself. Does someone out there really think this is funny?
This goes on for a little longer. It’s not worth continued comment. It’s just… mystifying.
Look, I once again am not much for the “the media is out to get Texas A&M football” thing. It is true that perception of a program does matter in the world of recruiting, which is the lifeblood of a program. However, the perception of the Texas A&M football program under Jimbo near the end was kind of in the toilet—but he was able to recruit well anyway.
It does say something, though, when derision of a program is apparently so lucrative that a column of this quality is put out by a periodical like Texas Monthly. That goes beyond simple “hey, these guys are strange, right?”
Just my opinion.