But I am getting ahead of the tale. Needless to say, the regents decided this was a great idea (says something about the regents I'd say). So, whether we liked it or not, this "joint performance" was on. I still say they'd of had better luck just putting 300 liberal arts majors from both schools on the field, and have them hug, and sing as a choir or something. That might have worked. But the bands? Can you think of more partisan groups? In short, in the Aggie Band, we were very well treated at Kyle Field and Texas A&M, and treated, at best, okay by opponents at their fields. Our reception was less than cordial at some places (LSU's death valley comes to mind). And Memorial Stadium in Austin was one of the "non-cordial" spots. So we were wary. But we wanted a peaceful game. If there was a fight, we would not start it. But we would sure end it. "Horns can be repaired" was the motto. That means, if there is a fight, your horn is a great weapon. Hope you are starting to see how unwise this great plan really was.
Anyway, our drum majors went to Austin in October to coordinate with the Texas officials to make sure that there wouldn't be an "incident" (here's a thought...no joint performance and chances of an "incident" plummet). They made a good plan. Texas' band would march onto the field at 30 minutes prior to kickoff, and play their way to their seats. We'd start up at 15 minutes prior to the game after they finished, and it would work out. Anyway, the game date got closer, and feelings ran higher and higher. I could tell there was a significant rage in Austin. They hated us. I could feel it at the Midnight Yell Practice held on the state capital steps on the night before the game. 10,000 Aggies gathered to rouse downtown Austin, and raise the Aggie Flag over the capital. We were enjoying ourselves, and 4,000 t-sips showed up, and started chanting, "11 and 1! 11 and 1!" (signifying an 11-1 record to demark a loss we were supposed to suffer at their hands). Then came the atrocity. A fellow stepped out of the capital, behind the yell leaders, and he kicked Reveille as hard as he could. I could hear our beloved Collie mascot yelp from 300 yards away with my head turned the other way. Let me just take this opportunity to say that, if among 10,000 Aggies, DO NOT KICK REVEILLE! It is bordering on planned suicide. All I know is that this is what started the fight (the guy was a bloody pulp when the ambulance came and got him by the way). The 4,000 t-sips attacked the 10,000 Aggies. A quick aside if I may. What kind of idiots were we dealing with? 10,000 of us, 4,000 of them. Do the math. And they started the fight. And this against the Aggies, against whom Patton had once said that he'd take a handful of over an Army of West Point cadets. Needless to say, this move was also unwise, and they lost badly. And the game wasn't even starting until the next day. Just wait, it gets better.
So the game night arrived, and the Aggie Band had swallowed its total revulsion, and practiced with the t-sips. The performance plan was established. So the Aggies get into the stands an hour prior to the game as is our custom, and we wait. 75,000 fans, mainly t-sips, start trickling into the stadium. We could see them well from our awesome endzone seats. 30 minutes to kickoff came and went, and there was no sign of the t-sip band (as I mentioned before, that was the time set for them to march out). Well, we started to play at 15 minutes of, when, low and behold, here come the t-sips, exactly as we begin to play, and then the music duel began. The were blasting March Grandioso, and we were blaring The Aggie War Hymn. We had way more brass instruments. A semi-confrontational situation as they marched right in front of us. One we'd planned to avoid. But there it was. So we had to kill them. I'm just kidding, we didn't kill them. So they marched over in front of the locker room doors, and camped there, on the running track. By then, it was 10 minutes prior to kickoff. At that time, the officials direct the football teams to stop warming up, return to the locker room, and prepare to emerge right before kickoff. Well, the Texas band was standing in front of the Aggie Locker room door, but there was a gap in the flutes, so the Aggie Football team went through the gap, as they had to go to the locker room, and the Texas band was in the way. Well, the t-sips were livid, and apparently spread the rumor that the Aggies had, deliberately, run through the Texas band as an affront. Somehow, without the Aggies knowledge, this rumor reached the ears of certain Texas players, and they decided, on their own, to exact retribution by running through the Aggie Band. Not wise. More on this later.
So half-time arrived, and we marched a short drill routine while the crowd chanted "Boring, boooorrrrring!" when it was definitely not. Then the Texas band came out and did their thing. It was also the 100 year anniversary of Texas Football, and they had a splendid firework show. Then came the big, peaceful, unified finale. We marched on the field to stand next to the t-sips, and the crowd was quiet. What was this? The Aggies and the t-sips on the field together? Surely this could not be. But it was. Just as the situation was seemingly a panacea, reality set in. 7 members of the Aggie Band walked off. Six Seniors, and a freshman, walked off the field in protest. They would not play with the t-sips. They didn't do it quietly either. They could have just not marched out, and stayed on the sideline. But they marched out, and then very publicly walked off. The message was clear. We hate them, and will not be a party to this abomination of nature.
Things had already been going badly when halftime, which was running long, started to come to a close. The Texas football squad came running out onto the field, and, instead of running to their sideline, a number started sprinting toward us. "What are they thinking?" we asked ourselves. The t-sip carrying the giant orange longhorn flag was in the lead, and there was fire in his eyes as he bore down on the Aggie Band perimeter without any sign of veering off. "Surely he isn't thinking of trying to break the perimeter?" we thought. Nobody is that stupid. But he kept coming closer and closer, until it was obvious that that was clearly his intent, and that of the football players with him. For the record, when the flag bearer reached the perimeter, a bass horn player clocked him with a sousaphone, and laid him out cold. Then the football players hit. And I do mean hit. They lowered there shoulders and threw their padded bodies straight into the bodies of several performing band members. Resounding tackles they were, and all over the band, we were lowering our horns and taking an interest in the sudden attack. The Aggie Bandsmen who were hit were, in a few cases, urinating blood for days. So they got hit. No question about it. This was the moment of calm right before World War erupts. We were still shocked at their actions, and about to respond in kind, when a figure of authority spared us from ESPN disaster highlights for eternity. And I congratulate John Makovic, head football coach for the Texas Longhorns. No fool he. The players in the vanguard to assault the Aggies had not escaped his watchful eye, and when they started streaking towards us, he bolted to get to the scene before it was too late. He arrived seconds after the players collided with our perimeter in the first wave of tackles. And, while we were still in shock, he made it very clear that those in the Texas Football uniforms were to get their asses to the sideline if they ever wanted to wear them again. He boomed with authority, and everyone knew his face. So he was listened to, and he brought the situation under control. And a very tense situation it was. I have to hand it to him. Had he not been there and acted as quickly and decisively as he did, we would have beat the living crap out of his players with our weapons. Sure they are bigger and are wearing pads, but there are only 80, and we had over 300 armed, pissed off military band bad asses. And something tells me that the crowd of Texas fans would not have taken that fight lying down. And 300 on the majority of 70,000 sounds even less wise than the 4,000 t-sips from the night before. We would have had to carry out an armed retreat from the stadium. I firmly believe that this would have happened if not for Makovic. And it would have been very nasty, and more than a little bloody, and televised on ESPN to the whole nation. But, as it was, he controlled what could have been an explosive situation, and cooler heads prevailed. And that, as they say, is what becomes of brilliant ideas such as the "joint performance".
By the way, the t-sips claimed the next day that they were trying to recover the longhorn flag that the Aggies had stolen. Stolen? Were they kidding? The turkey ran into us, for goodness sakes. All I can say is that those players are lucky they were spared our retaliatory strike, for it would have been swift and powerful. I know what you are thinking. A bunch of band weenies vs. a big time college football team? No way. But we were paramilitary ROTC cadets with weapons, and we outnumbered them by a lot. There were only about 20 players in the area. The rest of the team might have joined in, but it would of been a messy melee. For they struck first, and hurt some of our number, and, at the time at least, I wanted to vent my wrath. There is no doubt in my mind that we would have crucified them. It's what would've happened after that that I sometimes wonder about. What if...And that is the story of the incident that almost was. Just for posterity, the Aggies sealed the victory that night with a 95 yard interception return by Aaron Glenn. Peter Gardere, Texas QB, had just converted on 4th and 20 by getting the t-sips to the Aggie 11 yard line. We were leading 27-13. With a score, the sips would pull within 7. And his next pass was for a touchdown, but hardly the way Gardere expected. And that cemented things at the final score of 34-13.