The Texas Longhorns weren't bowl eligible for long on Saturday evening before talk began about the possibility of the Longhorns facing off against the Texas A&M Aggies in the Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29.
After various outlets have weighed in with their own projections, here's where the Longhorns could end up:
- SB Nation -- Texas Bowl vs. Texas A&M (December 29, 8 p.m., ESPN)
- CBS Sports -- Liberty Bowl vs. South Carolina (December 29, 1 p.m. ESPN)
- Phil Steele -- Texas Bowl vs. Texas A&M (December 29, 8 p.m., ESPN)
- Sporting News -- Texas Bowl vs. LSU (December 29, 8 p.m., ESPN)
So two of the four projections have Texas going against Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl, with two major updates to the bowl projections pending.
The next question is the extent to which there is impetus for the game to happen from the two administrations and from the Texas Bowl.
No one should be shocked to hear that the Texas Bowl wants this to happen:
"The regional significance of the bowl is already compelling for fans, and then when you consider a matchup like Texas and Texas A&M, if that does happen, that would really be outstanding for fans, our community and the two schools," Texas Bowl president Jamey Rootes said. "Fortunately Texas has gotten bowl eligible to be in the conversation. There are some exciting scenarios coming to light, and certainly Texas and Texas A&M is one."
One other consideration here worth monitoring -- Texas A&M opens the 2015 season at NRG Stadium against Arizona State, which is apparently on the radar of the bowl folks.
What about the schools? Speculation continues that one or both might not be interested in the match up because of continued animosity between the two programs. However, it was former Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds who had the following to say:
They left," Dodds said. "They're the ones that decided not to play us. We get to decide when we play again. I think that's fair."
As suits his personality, new athletic director Steve Patterson has said there needs to be a "compelling business or branding reason" for Texas to schedule A&M again.
In regards to the choice of bowl games, playing the Aggies would seem to represent a compelling business reason, as it's hard to imagine a Texas Bowl between the two teams that doesn't feature a sold-out NRG Stadium and provide some excitement for a fan base that has desperately needed some excitement. And with A&M popularity surging in the state, the possibility of winning a head-to-head contest has to represent a compelling branding reasons, does it not?
The latter point represents the reasoning that some Aggies might make to avoid the game -- why put their precious calls of #WRTS on the line? Publicly, the argument may run more in line with the prospect of playing two games in a row at the same stadium, but that could just be a cover for being too scared to play the game as the program with much more to lose in the current landscape.
After all, new athletic director Eric Hyman shouldn't have any enmity towards Texas since he wasn't around when Dodds and former Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrnes were negotiating the futures of both programs, so there aren't any personal feelings between the two athletic directors, though that may not keep both from privately wanting to avoid the game.
Another point to consider is the possible backlash from fans of both programs. Which athletic director would have to deal with angry fans all of a sudden unwilling to see a bowl game against another school if it got out publicly that the Texas Bowl match up didn't happen because of reluctance on one side?
If Texas wins against TCU, a trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl against an ACC opponent could happen, but otherwise, the Texas Bowl is the overwhelming guess right now, with A&M the most likely opponent.
Unless the Aggies are too scared, that is.