A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: Is UT vs. A&M a real possibility?

Could the Longhorns be coming to Houston to face the Aggies? Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

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The closer it gets, the more we wonder.

Could we see the state’s biggest rivalry renewed in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl?

Yes, we’re talking Texas versus Texas A&M.

Have your attention?

Inquiring minds have been turning this one over for a while now, but we can thank USA TODAY for throwing it out there as an honest-to-gosh prediction for the Dec. 27 matchup in NRG Stadium.

The prognosticators have been working overtime this week, trying to come up with their best logical matchups for the holiday bowl games – even the College Football Playoffs which hang on this weekend’s games, including the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12 Championships.

So many possibilities, so many upset-minded teams. It’s been that kind of season. Just look at Alabama’s fall from the top last week or Miami’s tumble from No. 2.

A number of teams in the state of Texas will be playing in bowls, but could that possible Texas-A&M matchup in Houston be more than just an interesting thought?

The Texas Bowl, after all, matches a Big 12 team against a Southeastern Conference team. Texas and A&M fill those spots and are right down the road from Houston.

“We would certainly welcome the chance to host these 2 great institutions if the opportunity presented itself,’’ said David Fletcher, Executive Director of the Texas Bowl.

“That’s a game that resonates well beyond the football field and would really be outstanding for the fans and for our community.” 

The rivalry that lasted 118 years, the one that’s incorporated into the Aggie War Hymn, ended in 2011 when Texas’ Justin Tucker, now the Baltimore Ravens’ kicker, nailed a 40-yard field goal as time ran out to give Texas a 27-25 wild win in College Station.

It was a fitting end to a rivalry that began in 1894 in Austin with a 38-0 Texas win and became a Thanksgiving tradition. But even though A&M headed off to the SEC, the talk of renewing the rivalry that spanned decades in the Southwest Conference and the Big 12 never really died.

Both teams had disappointing seasons. The 6-6 Longhorns lost four games they could have won in Tom Herman’s first year, while the 7-5 Aggies ended their season by firing Kevin Sumlin and are searching for a coach.

If they do wind up meeting in the Texas Bowl, the Longhorns and Aggies could be playing in front of a record crowd. The two schools have the two largest alumni totals in the city and Herman went 22-4 in two seasons as the Houston Cougars’ head coach before heading to Austin.

It’s a great thought, but, honestly, it’s doubtful it will happen.

The athletic departments at the two schools haven’t tried to revive the rivalry in the regular season, so the idea they would agree to play each other in a bowl is, well, just one of those intriguing thoughts that meander through our brains. USA TODAY’s prediction just made us think a little harder.

It’s much more likely that if Texas is chosen to go against an SEC team, the Longhorns’ opponent would be an LSU or Mississippi State. And A&M? The Aggies might be headed to Nashville for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

Then again, everything could change with this weekend’s games.

But it was fun to think about that rivalry matchup for a few minutes, wasn’t it?


Today is the last day for the public to submit nominations for the inaugural Houston Sports Awards. You can nominate in any of 10 categories, including Athlete of the Year, High School Athlete of the Year, Moment of the Year, Coach of the Year and Event of the Year. Go to www.houstonsportsawards.com

Also, you can now purchase tickets for the 2018 Houston Sports Awards Golden Ticket Raffle. Each ticket gives you a chance to win a pair of season tickets to all Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Rodeo Houston & Houston Open home games/events during the 2018-19 season. In addition, the winner receives tickets for two Houston Texans home games, the 2018 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff and the 2018 Texas Bowl. Information is available at www.houstonsportsawards.com


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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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