Aggie Football Traditions 101

Texas A&M is loaded down with traditions.  Quite a few of them make outsiders scratch their heads.   In order to understand the mindset of Aggies everywhere, it helps to have a little bit of understanding of these traditions.  There are many of them that all Aggies hold near and dear to their hearts and these are the events that make Texas A&M stand out from the rest.  In many Aggies eyes, it is what makes us better than the rest — and that it has nothing to do with what happens on the football field.

Aggies are a different bred.  I get to see a lot of firsthand accounts of staff/alumni from other schools experiencing life here in College Station through my day job, and most always leave with a sense of awe – there tends to be some amazement when they actually see what it is that happens around here.

I have gone through the Texas A&M website (www.tamu.edu) and the Traditions Council website (http://traditions.tamu.edu/) and copy/pasted the different history’s of our traditions and then added a little **commentary of my own. **

There are traditions that revolve around football – and traditions that stand alone.  Here I will go through the football related ones only. 

Kyle Field:

  • Recently rated by Sports Illustrated as the nation’s best game day stadium: ‘…few venues are more hostile to opponents than the maroon bowl of Kyle Field, where the eardrums of visiting players are under constant assault from the Aggies’ 12th Man – the nation’s best-drilled student body.’
  • Regarded as one of the nation’s most intimidating road venues, Texas A&M’s Kyle Field has been the home of the Aggie football team since 1905.

**If you ever get a chance to experience game day at Kyle Field, you should jump at it.  It truly is an amazing day.  And after this fall’s football season, the redevelopment of Kyle will begin.  When that is all done, Kyle Field will truly be the football stadium that stands above the rest.  See video of the plans here:  http://kylefield.com**

12th Man

The tradition of the 12th Man was born January 2nd, 1922, when an underdog Aggie team was playing Centre College, the nation’s top ranked team at the time.  As the hard fought game wore on, the Aggies were forced to dig deep into their limited reserves because of injuries. Coach Dana X Bible remembered that a former squad member, who was playing basketball at the time, was in the press box. His name was E. King Gill.  Gill was called from the stands, suited up, and stood ready throughout the rest of the game…which A&M finally won 22-14. When the game ended, E. King Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies. Gill later said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I didn’t. I simply got ready and waited — just in case I was needed.”

This gesture was more than enough for the Aggie Team. Although Gill did not play in the game, he had accepted the call to help his team. He came to be known as the “Twelfth Man” because he stood ready for in case the eleven men on the gridiron needed him. That spirit of readiness for service, desire to support, and enthusiasm helped kindle a flame of devotion among the entire student body; a spirit that has grown vigorously throughout the years. The entire student body at A&M is the Twelfth Man, and they stand during the entire game to show their support. The 12th Man is always in the stands waiting to be called upon if needed.

This tradition took on a new look in the 1980’s when Coach Jackie Sherrill started the 12th Man Kick-Off Team, composed of regular students through open tryouts. This 12th Man team performed very well and held opponents to one of the lowest yards per return averages in the league. Later, Head Coach R.C. Slocum changed the team to allow only one representative of the 12th Man on the kick-off team. The 12th Man tradition exists also in musical form; the student body sings “The Twelfth Man” after each game in which the Aggies are outscored.

**many stadiums have student ‘sections’ – We have a student “side.” The entire east side of Kyle Field (all 3 decks) is filled with students and they all stand the entire game.  And they are LOUD. **

Midnight Yell

Midnight Yell is held the night before a home game in Kyle Field and at the Arches on Thursday nights before away games – at midnight, of course! Also for an away game, a site is designated for a Midnight Yell in the city of our opponent the night before the game.

For a yell at Kyle Field, yell leaders lead the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band and the Twelfth Man into the stadium. The yell leaders lead the crowd in old army yells, the school’s songs, and tell fables of how the Aggies are going to beat the everlivin’ hell out of our opponent. Finally, the lights go out, and Aggies kiss their dates. If they don’t have a date, all they have to do is “flick their Bic.” As the story goes, the flames make it easier for two dateless people to find a kiss!

The purpose of Midnight Yell is to pump up the Twelfth Man for the next day’s big game!

**Yell is one of my favorite traditions. It brings more than 25,000 students and fans to Kyle late at night and is always a fun atmosphere.  If you make a trip to College Station for a game, be sure to be there Friday night by midnight to get a full Aggie Football experience**

Yell Leaders

When people want to know where the cheerleaders are during Aggie games, they quickly learn Aggies don’t cheer — they yell. Instead of cheerleaders, yell leaders walk the sidelines. Yell leaders are a team of upperclassmen — three seniors and two juniors — elected each year by the student body.

The tradition of yell leaders dates back to 1907 when Texas A&M was still an all-male institution. Ladies were invited to campus to attend football games, and during one game, the upperclassmen ordered the freshmen to find a way to entertain their guests. The freshmen found white coveralls and began leading the crowd in yells. They had so much fun and received so much attention from the ladies that it was decided that only upperclassmen would be allowed to participate in leading yells in the future.

Aggie Yell Leaders still wear white during games and attend all home and away football games, all home basketball, volleyball and soccer games, as well as post-season football, basketball and volleyball games. They can always be found on the sidelines of the playing field in front of the student section, encouraging the Aggies to show their Aggie Spirit.

**I have to say, I am not the least bit sad that we don’t have cheerleaders. I am sure the male population would enjoy it, but it really is too reminiscent of high school for me.  I love that we are different and that the Yell Leaders are a part of making the 12th Man so loud on game days.**

Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band

All members of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band — the largest military marching band in the United States — are members of the Corps of Cadets. The band was formed in 1894 to coincide with the first Aggie football game and remains a source of great pride to the entire Aggie family.

The nationally acclaimed band is known for military precision and style. In fact, some of the band’s maneuvers — such as the famous block T — are so complex that a computer says they can’t be done because they require two people to be in the same place at the same time. It’s been said that the band has never lost a halftime, so when the band steps off on the heavy beat of the “Aggie War Hymn” during halftime, Aggies respond with a resounding “Whoop!”

The band performs at all university football games, in inaugural parades for presidents and governors and at numerous other special events, making it one of the most traveled collegiate marching bands in the nation.

**love love love the Aggie Band.  Once again, one of those components to game day that makes us different then everyone else.  No cute little baton girls, no frilly flags, no 60’s styled music.  Just uniformed cadets marching in straight lines to military tunes.  Very precise. Very unique. Very amazing to watch.  Most Aggies will agree, the first few notes of the “Aggie War Hymn” always provides a rush of goose bumps!**

Maroon Out

Each football season, one game is specially designated for Maroon Out as a way to build unity among the Aggie community. The Maroon Out tradition began in 1998 when tens of thousands of Aggies attending the Texas A&M vs. Nebraska game were encouraged to wear their Aggie colors and create a sea of maroon in Kyle Field. So many maroon shirts were purchased that it led to a temporary national shortage of maroon T-shirts.

Even the Nebraska fans acknowledged after the game that the intensity of the Maroon Out spirit made a difference in the game leading to A&M’s 28-21 victory. As The Daily Nebraskan expressed on October 12, 1998: “A game that was dubbed a ‘maroon-out’ for Texas A&M fans proved to be a lights out for Nebraska. The fans dressed themselves in maroon T-shirts in an attempt to wash out the red and white that opponents have gotten used to. It worked.”

**We still have an “official” Maroon Out game every season.  But, for the most part, everyone wears maroon to all the games now. **

So there are the main football traditions.  Next up will be the Non-football related traditions. (and there are just as many!)

Follow me on twitter:  Jen99ag

Thanks and Gig ‘Em!

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