The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) catches a pop fly during Texas A&M’s game against McNeese on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024 at Blue Bell Park. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024

Marriage, Manziel, & Bama

Mark+Dor%26%23233%3B+%26%238212%3B+THE+BATTALION%0AThe+A%26amp%3BM+and%26%23160%3B+Alabama+game+was+attended+by+a+crowd+of+more+than+100%2C000.
Mark Doré — THE BATTALION The A&M and  Alabama game was attended by a crowd of more than 100,000.

Two years ago, my really famous wingman scored me a date with my future wife.
You remember the story: Johnny Manziel, the human bottle of Tabasco sauce, rode a masterful game plan and a rock-solid offensive line to a win that validated the A&M-to-the-SEC move.
I covered that game for The Battalion. The next Monday a beautiful woman who I hadn’t spoken to in years took a photo of that article and sent it to me. She told me she appreciated the writing; I asked her to lunch. The rest is history, and a week ago I proposed.
Johnny was so good against Alabama that he played his way into my wedding story.
This weekend I went back to Tuscaloosa, this time with my fiancée (thanks again, Johnny) and a couple Suburban-loads of friends. Twitter best illustrates the divide between my two Alabama experiences.
In 2012, my most retweeted Twitter post was this: “FINAL: A&M 29, Alabama 24.” In 2014: “Alabama has exactly as many points as A&M has yards.”
My friends and I had a great time because, as an astute elderly gentleman in an elephant-shaped hat told me, “If you can’t have fun in Tuscaloosa, you can’t have fun anywhere.”
The next morning the Alabama family we stayed with asked me whether I’d have anything to write about after that game.
I could write about the fact that some of my friends spent more dollars (180) than the offense had yards (172). I could write about the veteran offensive line that was supposed to protect Kenny Hill like it protected Johnny. I could write about the offense that weeks ago looked like the best unit in the nation and Saturday had fans cheering when it crossed midfield. I could write about the South Carolina game, which in hindsight was the worst thing for this team — too much, too fast.
But for the sanity of all involved in the creation and consumption of this column, I’ll spare it. We know what happened out there. There’s nothing to be salvaged. It was the worst A&M game in at least a decade.
This isn’t a team that needs fixing. It doesn’t just need to get its head right; it’s not just a momentum issue. This team isn’t ready — and that’s okay.
This is a young group chafing in the grind of the best version of the best division of the best conference in football history. With a win over LSU on Thanksgiving, that team could escape the year with eight wins. Writing this from Tuscaloosa, having seen what I saw yesterday, that doesn’t feel like a complete loss.
The worst thing Aggies could do is quit on this team. You don’t have to appreciate the on-field product or agree with the play calling, but we’re talking about 19-year-old men who have worked their entire life for these moments. They’re rattled, not broken. So don’t chip away at what’s left of their confidence. If they knew how to fix it, they would.
Don’t change your Thanksgiving plans and leave Kyle Field empty. Don’t say Hill doesn’t care — I saw the look in his eyes and the hitch in his voice at the post-game press conference. He believes he’s still the quarterback that shredded South Carolina, and he doesn’t understand how it all slipped away. He doesn’t have answers. He might never start again. (But as a silver lining, it seems less likely than ever that Sumlin will jump ship for the NFL. The Swagcopter stays put.)
We have a chance these next few weeks to establish ourselves as a topflight, win-or-lose group of good, rowdy Ags. Make College Station what Tuscaloosa has been to me, after a win in 2012 and a soul-smashing loss in 2014.
Alabama fans opened their town to us after the highest and lowest moments in recent Aggie history — I toasted to Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings with a guy named Derbin. Where else do you see that?
Mark Doré is an English senior and editor-in-chief of The Battalion.

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