TCU, Texas start new Thanksgiving tradition

Some Thanksgiving traditions are no more.

Black Friday is now really Black Thursday for most retailers. And the annual showdown between Texas and Texas A&M has gone away thanks to the Aggies’ move to the SEC.

But for the Longhorns, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a new Thanksgiving tradition that includes a game against TCU. That starts Thursday night when the two former Southwest Conference rivals meet as Big 12 foes for the first time.

“This week is exactly the same for us,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown. “We had 14 great years with the excitement of playing on Thanksgiving against A&M and the home-and-home series. We’ve always had the Aggie supper on Sunday night. We changed it to the senior supper. We’ve talked about how special it is to play Thursday night. It doesn’t feel that different for me. TCU is our fifth-longest rival game.”

The 6:30 p.m. CT game on Thanksgiving at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium will mark the 83rd meeting between the two schools in a series dominated by Texas (61-20-1). But it’s the first time since 2007 and just the second meeting between the two schools since the SWC dissolved after the 1995 season.

And while playing on Thanksgiving is old news to the 16th-ranked Longhorns (8-2, 5-2) in the Big 12, it means plenty to TCU (6-4, 3-4). TCU hasn’t played a Thanksgiving game since 1928.

The chance to play on Thanksgiving in a nationally televised game is big for the Horned Frogs.

“I’ve been watching the A&M-Texas game forever,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “For TCU to be part of that game is what we wanted it to be.”

While Patterson is glad to be part of the festivities, he doesn’t think the game is too big for his young team. One of the benefits of the move to the Big 12 for TCU has been the added exposure, including more televised games.

He wants his players to keep that in perspective Thursday because more important than the spotlight is slowing down the Longhorns. Texas still has a shot at a BCS berth and has won four consecutive games.

“Our kids will be excited about playing in a game just like they have been the whole season,” Patterson said. “Obviously we understand the tradition of Texas. They’ve played really good football on both sides of the ball the last four or five weekends. Trying to get ready for us it’s good to have a couple of days.”

One issue neither team should have for the game is lack of preparation. The Thursday game meant bye weeks for both teams last week. For the Longhorns, that meant more time to game plan for the Frogs and extra time for the coaching staff to work with the players who are redshirting this season.

For the Frogs, it meant more time to get healthy and extra time to work with the 16 true freshmen TCU has played this season.