Sports Take: Ags miss irony in their own message

This billboard on I-35 just south of Valley Mills Drive went up on Monday. It was paid for by a group of Texas A&M supporters know as Texans for Conference Choice.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Tyler Alley
Sports Editor

Drive down Interstate 35 heading southbound and you will see an interesting new billboard. It’s in the ugliest strangest color too: maroon.

A group of Aggie fans bought the billboard space and now have the message, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s conference deal.” The billboard comes in response to Baylor choosing to not waive its right to pursue legal action against Texas A&M and the SEC should the Aggies leave the conference.

Luke Jalbert, a civil engineering graduate who lives in Amarillo, says he came up with the idea for the billboard. He found about 100 loyal Aggie fans and collected the $2,750 needed to buy the billboard space for one month.

Jalbert said the billboard was meant all in good fun and for a laugh. Well, just so the Aggie fans know, they succeeded—sort of.

I mean, I am laughing. The problem is that I am laughing at the billboard and at the Aggies for taking the time and money to put up the sign.

Do the Aggies and their fans really think the reason Baylor, along with other schools in the Big 12, chose not to waive their legal rights was because of jealousy? My understanding was that Baylor was more like that guy who warns someone that they are about to do something stupid.

“Dude, are you sure you want to fight that guy?”

“Leave me alone, man, I got this.”

“Really? Because you’re like 5-foot-9 and that guy plays offensive line for Alabama.”

Baylor is merely telling the Aggies to slow down and think about their decision to enter a conference that has won the national championship the past few years because it will probably not turn out well for them.

What is Texas A&M’s response? Well president R. Bowen Loftin lashed out at “a certain Big 12 school” because he felt that A&M was “being held hostage.”

“Essentially, we’re being told that you must stay here against your will, and we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans for example and makes us free people,” Loftin said.

No offense to Mr. Loftin, but I feel that is a bit of a hyperbole. The Aggies are not being held hostage because they cannot even go anywhere yet. Baylor is merely disrupting their future plans.

In another interview, Loftin said, “These actions go against the commitment that was made by this university and the Big 12 on Sept. 2.”

Hold on. The school that is leaving the conference is questioning someone else’s commitment?

That is the equivalent of if I was in a committed relationship with a girl, and then she started talking to another guy about leaving me and then questioned my commitment when I threatened to punch the guy in the face.

Another issue with the potential conference exit for Texas A&M is their fight song; they will have to change it. I always thought it was stupid strange that the Aggies sang about beating Texas when they were playing Baylor. At first I felt bad for them, thinking they might be confused and not know where they are. Bless their maroon hearts.

At least Texas A&M plays Texas once a season at the moment. But by moving to a different conference altogether, whether Texas stays in the Big 12 or not, how can they continue with those same lyrics?

I wanted to make a joke about the Aggie fans feeding the Waco-Temple economy, but Baylor has beat me to the punch.

“We haven’t seen the billboard, but we’re absolutely supportive of the right to free speech,” university spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said. “Our most sincere hope is that this effort contributed in some way to our local economy.”

I will say that I am happy the Aggie fans raised $475 more than what was needed to buy the billboard and donated that to wildfire relief efforts. A sincere kudos to the group for that, but why not just give all of that money to wildfire relief efforts? It would serve a much better purpose than this billboard.

The headline in The Eagle, the Bryan-College Station newspaper, reads, “Aggie-bought billboard shalt send a message in Waco.” As demonstrated, the message does not worry me nearly as much as the safety risk involved. I have this terrible image of Baylor students crashing their cars because they cannot stop laughing at absurdity of the billboard.

Jalbert also said in the article that he does not expect a retaliatory billboard in College Station. If anyone is planning to make one, I first ask that money would be spent in better ways, but I do have a recommendation should one get made.

“Thou shalt not covet thy rival’s television deal before thou reverts to thee tactics of an infant.”

Tyler Alley is a senior journalism major from Houston and the sports editor for the Lariat.