Why Texas A&M football playing the Longhorns on Thanksgiving 2024 is a bad idea

The Longhorns never lobby for something like this unless it will materially benefit them. Here's why Texas A&M football should be cautious about this idea.
Nov 24, 2011; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Jeff Fuller (8) catches a
Nov 24, 2011; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Jeff Fuller (8) catches a / Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Texas lobbying for Thanksgiving date with Texas A&M football: why this benefits the Longhorns and harms the Aggies

Texas A&M football fans knew this would happen. The Longhorns aren’t even in the conference yet, and they’re already playing the PR and underhanded politicking game.

Recently, Texas held a media availability session where their athletic director, Chris Del Conte, spoke about the future of their athletic programs. One of the chief things they discussed was the rivalry with Texas A&M football.

Among several other things, the Longhorns said that the game will be annual. This was assumed by most who follow the conference; despite the “1-7” model the SEC has adopted for 2024, it appears that they will move to a “3-6” model moving forward, or something similar that can preserve multiple rivalries on a yearly basis.

The other thing that the Longhorns said at this point is that they want to play the rivalry on Thanksgiving day, rather than that weekend. The game has been on Thanksgiving day in the most recent installations of the rivalry, but it is not a “traditional” day for the game in the sense of it having always been played on the Thursday holiday.

This seems benign at first. What issue would there be with returning the game to Thursday rather than having it on Saturday, especially when that has been the recent pattern?

In a vacuum, that wouldn’t be an issue. However, there’s more context that needs to be explored. Any Texas A&M football fan who has followed the program for some time can tell you that the Austinites don’t do things like this without there being some benefit in it for them.

That is again the case here. The week before the rivalry is renewed, the Aggies travel to Auburn. The Longhorns host Kentucky. Neither of these teams are projected to be conference title contenders, of course, but one is certainly more of a headache than the other, and it is the one on A&M’s schedule. Who, then, does a short week benefit more? Clearly, the answer is the team in burnt orange.

This is a game with massive narrative implications going forward. Both sides understand this. Therefore, while such a decision doesn’t necessarily advantage the Horns every single year—we don’t have the schedule for 2025 or beyond yet settled—winning this first game is important enough for them to try and get every advantage they can.

However, the Aggies should not abide this chicanery. This is a game that should be played on Texas A&M football’s terms: the Longhorns were the ones who childishly cut off the rivalry in the first place. This was, of course, prior to them eventually awakening to their own foolishness and begging to follow the Aggies to greener pastures. They should not get to dictate any terms here.

If the game does end up shifting to Thanksgiving, it will represent a small win for the Horns. However, they may end up biting off more than they can chew, here: as I’ve written, the grind of an SEC schedule is no joke, and Texas is not a program acclimated at all to the demands it will place upon them. When all is said and done, they may come to regret stumping for this date being moved.