Texas is hosting old friend TCU for a Thanksgiving night football game. In 2013, the Longhorns are hosting Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night.
Turns out, the end of the Texas A&M rivalry is working out nicely for UT. The Longhorns are getting to stay home every Thanksgiving instead of gobbling down some turkey in a College Station hotel.
The UT-A&M spat over the Aggies leaving the Big 12 has ended, for now, all Longhorn-Aggie athletic competition. The Thanksgiving tradition was the major blow.
With only occasional exceptions, UT and A&M played Thanksgiving night or Thanksgiving Friday morning for almost a century.
UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds repeatedly has said he wants to keep alive Texas' Thanksgiving tradition and even wants to host every year, preferably against one of UT's old rivals from the Southwest Conference.
Most schools would prefer not to host a Thanksgiving Day game, so the Big 12 was glad to accommodate the Longhorns.
“It creates a dynamic in the schedule that's a challenge,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “It's easy to make it so they play every Thanksgiving. It's not easy to make it so they play every Thanksgiving at home, which is what they want. So that requires other accommodations.
“But at least in the near term, we think we have it done.”
Bowlsby said most schools don't mind hosting a game on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, but “there aren't a lot of schools that want to host on the (Thanksgiving) day.”
In the NFL, hosting a Thanksgiving game every year — like Dallas and Detroit — is a huge advantage. It gives those teams an annual 10-day break late in the season, which is beneficial for injury recovery, and it doesn't require a road trip for the short week on the front end.
But in college football, those factors don't come into play. Both TCU and Texas were off last week, and UT and Tech will be off next year the week before Thanksgiving.
TCU coach Gary Patterson is glad to be a holiday guest of the Longhorns.
“I've been watching the A&M-Texas game forever,” said Patterson. “For TCU to be part of that game is what we wanted it to be.”
TCU hasn't played a Thanksgiving game since 1928. But the Frogs, only one year removed from the low profile of the Mountain West Conference and less than 20 years removed from being left behind in the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, join Texas in having the college football stage to themselves on Thanksgiving night.