Legislature to force Texas-Texas A&M rivalry?

They say football is a religion in Texas. It’s also politics, too, as evidenced by a recent bill in the state legislature that would require the University of Texas and Texas A&M to play every year in football.

State representative Ryan Guillen, a Democrat from Rio Grande City and Texas A&M alum, introduced the bill Monday night, according to report on The Dallas Morning News’ website.

The bill states that “The intercollegiate football teams of The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University shall annually play a non-conference, regular-season football game against one another.”

The bill goes on to stipulate that if either university refuses to play the game, then that school cannot offer football scholarships funded with state money.

Texas and Texas A&M did play each other since 1894, but the rivalry was halted in 2012 when A&M left the Big 12 Conference to join the Southeastern Conference.

When Texas A&M departed, Texas officials declared that they could not fit the Aggies on their schedules. The ban has so far applied to all sports, but most notably in football, where the Longhorns hold a 76-37-5 series edge.

Until last season, the Aggies and Longhorns met every year on the gridiron since 1914, in what had become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition.

“This game is as much a Texas tradition as cowboy boots and barbeque,” Guillen said to the Texas Tribune. “The purpose of the bill is to put the eyes of Texas upon our two greatest universities to restore this sacred Texas tradition.

“I think the people of Texas want a game, and we’re trying to get them one.”

With the state facing more serious issues, it’s doubtful the bill will get anywhere. Not only will Guillen have to lobby support from across party lines – and across school loyalties – its passage could hinge on the all-important Texas Tech alum vote.

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire