When Texas A&M bolted from the Big 12 to the SEC, a very loud message was sent from Austin to College Station -- We're not going to play you anymore.
At the time, Texas was the big dog in the Lone Star State. Most predicted a school that had been mediocre in the Big 12 would collapse under the weight of a Southeastern Conference schedule. Without Texas and other Big 12 schools to play, the Aggies would find recruiting in their Texas and in the Midwest more difficult.
Oh, Texas fans did laugh and laugh at the prospect of A&M begging them for an opportunity to meet on the football field.
Now, zip forward just a bit. Add A&M coach Kevin Sumlin to the mix. Drop in some Johnny Manziel magic. Combine with top 10 recruiting classes. And stir in a top 10 finish in the national rankings in 2012.
Now it's A&M who's owning their home state. The Aggies have had more on-field success than their old rivals. They've had more success recruiting. They're making money like never before and that will only increase as the SEC Network launches and then grows.
For good measure, Texas A&M is even expanding Kyle Field to make it the biggest stadium in the state, eclipsing the capacity of you know who's venue.
With all that in mind, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that new Texas coach Charlie Strong has a little bit different view of the Longhorns' decision to snub and avoid A&M. The first-year coach told ESPN this week:
"You would like to see it happen. At some point it needs to happen. We need to play them."
"Need" was an interesting word for Strong to use. While it was once believed that Texas A&M would need to play Texas, the current state of affairs in the Lone Star State suggest its actually Texas that needs to play A&M. What better way to convince recruits that the mojo still lies in Austin, not in College Station?
That appears to be the view of a coach down on the battlefield, though. Strong's boss -- new Texas AD Steve Patterson -- has made it clear that he's not in a rush to renew the rivalry with A&M.
The view from Texas A&M has changed, too. Initially, the Aggies said they wanted to keep the rivalry game going. Now that they have the upper hand in the state of Texas, why give the Horns a chance to catch back up?
As ESPN's Mark Schlabach points out, A&M associate AD and spokesman Jason Cook told the network last Novembrer that A&M would hope "to play them again in a BCS bowl or playoff game at some point."
For now, it seems that the boot is on the other foot. Texas A&M is on the rise while Texas is starting a rebuild under a new coach.
But it's clear from that coach's comment that he realizes to get back on top in his own state, he'll need to play Texas A&M.