The Aggies fell on hard times, fumbling through the end of the R.C. Slocum era, then stumbling through nearly a decade with Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman. Even though the Aggies still beat the Longhorns during those struggles, the game lost some of its luster.
Still, it was a huge deal.
So, too, was its end.
“For most of my life, the A&M game was the big rivalry,” Rushing said. “That was the game.
“We'd rather eat rocks than lose to the Aggies.”
DeLoss Dodds doesn't exactly agree. Or at least that's what the Texas athletic director said. A year ago when conference realignment was bucking and taking college football for a ride, he contended that OU had always been the chief rival, not Texas A&M.
Of course, he said, the Texas A&M game had been great. Sure, the Longhorns might agree to play the Aggies again some day.
But playing the Sooners?
That was something the Longhorns had to do.
Megan McKibben remembers feeling that way. While she was at Texas getting her degree, the OU game always felt way important than the A&M game. Maybe it was because the A&M game fell over Thanksgiving break when students were scattered while the OU game was smack in the middle of the semester.
“You're thinking about this game all week,” she said of the Red River Rivalry. “This is a week you marked on your calendar before school started.”
Like Rushing, McKibben now lives and works on the north side of the Red River. She's used to grief from Sooner fans. She's accustomed to awkward stares when she wears her burnt orange cowboy boots, complete with the Longhorn insignia.
But she insists the OU rivalry holds no added significance than it did before Texas A&M's departure to the SEC.
It was already her team's biggest game.
How could biggest get bigger?
“This rivalry was already important,” she said. “It will just stand and be important all by itself now.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. You can also like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.