SAW OSKI'S HEAD OFF, OR THE LAZY PLANET GUIDE TO AGGIELAND
Q: How many Aggies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Three. One to screw in the bulb; one to write a yell about it; and one to make it a tradition.
Lots of schools have traditions. No school has more traditions than Texas A&M. Too many, really, to list here. They have so many traditions, their freshman are essentially required to attend something called "Fish Camp," where upperclassmen do nothing but teach them the rituals of Aggie life. Cal has the annual Running of the Panhandlers, but that hardly compares.
A&M is just...out there. Foreign. We're frankly fond of A&M like we're fond of Thailand. They're both exotic, alien landscapes filled with people who have a world view quite apart from ours. We will forthwith examine that world view and attempt to divine the true meaning of "Good Bull" in this first installment of Tightwad Hill's Cultural Guide to Aggieland.
The first thing to know is that A&M is a military institution that's not a service academy. Service in the Aggie Corps is no longer compulsory for students (that ended in 1965) but 2,000 of A&M's students still serve in this ROTC program-on steroids. The Corps have their own set of traditions, which include the now infamous Aggie Squeeze. The purpose of the Aggie Squeeze is for male Corpsmen to show empathy when the football team is struggling by grabbing their testicles and shouting. Ah, empathy. Disturbing homo-erotic empathy.
The school is uniformly conservative, almost proudly reactionary - which explains the obsession with tradition and history. Their students - not just the Corps - stand at attention for the entire football game. And they yell. A&M students don't cheer, they yell. They yell so much that they have official yell practice the night before each game. And no shit, but everybody shows up. During games, there are special Yell Leaders (top) who take the place of traditional girl cheerleaders - think Neidermeyer times five. Their favorite yell is "Gig 'Em, Aggies," which refers to the practice of spearing frogs with sharp sticks, a popular past time in East Texas.
A&M's mascot is a cute collie named Reveille and (surprise) there are a bunch of traditions about her. From the official Aggie Traditions website (the really crazy parts are in italics):
When Reveille I died on January 18, 1944, she was given a formal military funeral on the gridiron of Kyle Field. She was then buried at the north entrance to the field, as all Reveilles are, facing the scoreboard so that she can always watch the Aggies outscore their opponent. (ed. note - A&M expanded their field and blocked Reveille's 'view,' so the Ags put a functioning mini-scoreboard in the dog graveyard. I am not making this up.)Jesus Christ. Check our earlier comparison. This isn't like Thailand. This is out of a Heinlein novel. We don't know whether to be frightened or impressed.
Reveille is the most revered dog on campus. Company E-2 has the privilege of taking care of Reveille. If she is sleeping on a cadet's bed, that cadet must sleep on the floor. Cadets address Reveille as "Miss Rev, ma'am." If she is in class and barks while the professor is teaching, the class is to be immediately dismissed.
The Ags are obsessed with beating Texas (t.u. or the tea-sips to Aggies) and mutilating the Longhorn mascot. Here's the words to their fight song:
so long to the orange and white.
Good luck to the dear old Texas Aggies,
they are the ones who show the real old fight.
"The eyes of Texas are upon you,"
that is the song they sing so well (sounds like hell).
So goodbye to texas university,
we're gonna beat you all to...
Rough tough real stuff Texas A&M.
Saw varsity's horns off, saw varsity's horns off.
Saw varsity's horns off, SHORT!
Varsity's horns are sawed off, varsity's horns are sawed off.
Varsity's horns are sawed off, SHORT!
I mean we hate Stanford, and we do advocate decapitating them in the Stanford Jonah, but it's not like that's our main fight song.
A&M's can-do spirit is referred to as "Good Bull" by students and former students (never referred to as alumni). Good Bull pervades all of the afore-mentioned activities - yelling, practicing to yell, etc. A tangible manifestation of Good Bull came on September 22, 2001 when Aggie students put this together in a few days:
$250k from t-shirt sales that day went to the families of 9/11 victims. That is wicked cool Good Bull, and a good place to stop. We're of course not done with Aggie Tradition, and future installments of the Guide to Aggieland will cover the 12th Man, the history of Aggie football, and Bear Bryant's time in College Station.
We recommend anyone with free time who wants a good primer on A&M to read two books. The first is Backyard Brawl by W.K. Stratton. While it's ostensibly about the Longhorn-Aggie rivalry, there's loads of good color about TAMU. The second book is the better-known Junction Boys, which details Bear Bryant's infamous A&M training camp in 1954. Junction Boys is light on A&M color, but an entertaining look at a pivotal time in Aggie football.