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Texas A&M’s first football game with Texas will be at Kyle Field

DESTIN, Fla. — Texas A&M doesn’t know what year it will renew its famous football rivalry with Texas. No later than 2025 but maybe 2024. The Aggies know exactly where the game will be.

“I can’t imagine the atmosphere when this game is being played,” A&M athletic director Ross Bjork told The Chronicle Thursday during the SEC Spring Meetings. “And it will be played at Kyle Field.”

The last meeting between the Aggies and Longhorns was also at College Station in 2011. Bjork said the old schedule had no bearing on what he called a “new day” – Texas and Oklahoma officially joining the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2025, but possibly a year earlier.

“It’s a whole new day, it’s a whole new league and it’s a whole new format,” Bjork said of A&M setting up the opener with his former Southwest Conference rival and of the Big 12 and therefore playing back-to-back games at Kyle Field. “It’s something that is important to us.”

SOME STORIES: Jimbo Fisher big on renewing A&M-Texas football rivalry

Being new to the league with the Sooners, the Longhorns don’t really have a say in the league schedule anyway, Bjork added.

“They realize they’re going to be very, very happy to be in the SEC, and that’s why they made the move,” Bjork said. “They’ll take whatever they can get…and they don’t have a vote in the process. This is the current membership only.

He added that UT athletic director Chris Del Conte and OU athletic director Joe Castiglione have been involved — from afar — in some of the SEC spring meetings taking place this week.

“They know the models being discussed,” Bjork added, indicating whether the SEC chooses a nine- or eight-game league schedule when it becomes a 16-member conference. (But) they don’t (officially) have a vote until July 1, 2025.”

Unless, of course, they join the SEC a year earlier, but the current 14 members will have voted on upcoming schedules by then anyway.

So A&M fans can expect a home game in the renewed rivalry, and UT fans can expect a short trip on what is once again expected to be a weekend of Thanksgiving to conclude the regular season.

“The atmosphere will be indescribable right now in terms of how many people are going to watch, how many people are going to try to get tickets to this game, how many people are going to have standing-only tickets,” Bjork said. “It’s going to be an epic rematch of a great rivalry, and whenever it happens, Kyle Field will be the place.”

UT leads the all-time series 76-37-5. Texas declined to comment Thursday on Bjork’s assertion that A&M will host back-to-back games in the series.

Bjork also said A&M since last year has been in favor of a future planning model that allows the Aggies and 15 other members — when UT and OU join — the chance to have more than one annual rival. .

Two models remain standing as the SEC’s Spring Meetings wrap up this week: Play nine league games each year with three permanent rivals — which appears to be the favorite — or stick to the current eight league games with one. only permanent rival. None of the remaining storylines include splits like the current West and East format.

“We still have a few questions that need to be answered,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in the latest decision on future programming. “We still have work to do.”

In the nine-game format, six enemies would rotate in four-year cycles. In the eight-match setup, seven enemies would rotate in four-year cycles.

“When (announcement of) the expansion happened last summer, we knew the programming formats and college football playoffs were swirling at that time,” Bjork said. “For us, the more SEC content we can have, the more valuable it is. We’ve really been a nine-game supporter from the start and even offered 10 games last August.

The Aggies under coach Jimbo Fisher have fond memories of playing more than eight league games in a year, after going 9-1 in 2020 during the pandemic-crunched season. They played in nine SEC games, with their only loss to eventual national champion Alabama, and beat North Carolina in the Orange Bowl. The Aggies’ No. 4 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll marked their best finish since winning the national title in 1939.

“If you look at the TV ratings, the fan experience, the stadiums, the attendance across the country, the top rated game shows heads – people are hungry for SEC contests,” Bjork said.

He added that a New York man at a Hilton Sandestin cafe on Thursday morning had no idea the SEC spring meetings were being held at the hotel, but was thrilled to find out.

“There’s no such thing as SEC football,” Bjork said, the stranger told him. “That’s all I watch.”

Bjork said he expects the CFP to grow from its current four teams to eight, 12 or even 16 — possibly after the 2026 season, also helping the nine-team SEC model move forward.

He said that under the eight-game format, UT and OU planned to be permanent rivals, and A&M would be paired with LSU. The nine-game schedule allows the Aggies to play Texas, LSU and maybe a program like Arkansas, an old SWC foe, each season.

“That way we would make sure we play Texas every year. So we accept that and we want to move forward,” Bjork said. “The eight-game model doesn’t accomplish everything that I just described. .”

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