Texas football took on a whole new meaning this Thanksgiving as UT geared up to play TCU instead of the Aggies. After Longhorns said a victorious goodbye to a 117-year rivalry with A&M last fall, many wondered what would become of our Thanksgiving tradition. The Hex Rally, which began in 1941 as a way to ensure a Longhorn win by putting a hex on our College Station rivals, has become an annual campus tradition before the big Thanksgiving showdown. This year, the University was determined to keep the tradition alive, even with a new opponent on the roster.
“We’re really trying to stray away from it being just [about] A&M; it’s a UT tradition at the end of the day, and we want students to remember it’s our tradition to own and not something we give to another team,” said the Texas Exes spirits and traditions council chair Erica Flores. This year’s rally kept the same name of the Hex Rally, and Texas Exes organizers adopted the slogan “Same hex, same spirit, new game.” Ultimately, it’s not about what team we face but fostering school spirit and supporting our team. “I hope everyone will rally behind the idea of continuing the tradition and embracing and keeping it alive, even if it’s for a new team,” said Kelsey Roberts, student relations coordinator for the Texas Exes.
Still, some are skeptical about this new direction. Christian Corona, sports editor for The Daily Texan and journalism senior, is concerned about what a new opponent means for traditional Texas rivalries. “You kind of dilute the meaning of a rivalry when you call games between Texas and TCU a rivalry,” said Corona. While Texas has a history of hexing schools other than A&M in the past, including TCU, facing the Aggies became an eagerly awaited part of the year for many seniors, including Corona. “The Hex Rally is something special to the rivalry that Texas and Texas A&M had, and to have a rally before a TCU game just doesn't feel right,” he said.
The experience will be much different for incoming freshmen; many have heard about the rivalry but won’t have the chance to witness it. Yet many students are optimistic and willing to embrace the change. Freshman biology major Jenna Pecot has grown up watching her sister attend UT and hearing about the game. “It’s kind of disappointing that we’re not playing A&M anymore, but I’m really excited to be the first class that gets to play TCU,” she said. Sophomore finance major Audrey George has similar sentiments. “I think it’s really cool that I’m able to experience the last A&M Hex Rally and also the first TCU Hex Rally. I think we’ll miss the tradition with A&M, but starting a new one with TCU is going to be so much fun.”
As students, athletes, faculty and staff united to light the red candles and put a hex on TCU before the big game, some students felt a different vibe at this year’s rally. Sophomore journalism major Rebecca Salazar said, “It was a little less intense because it’s not the same rivalry. But in the end it’s important to continue traditions. I think the spirit is there, so it doesn’t matter who we play.”