In a sweeping address to lawmakers laying out his policy priorities for the legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott offered an unexpected "bold" idea on which there could be compromise: reinstating an annual football game between the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, rivals that last faced off on the gridiron in 2011.
Abbott made the overture at the tail end of his State of the State address Tuesday, after naming school finance, teacher pay and property taxes among the emergency items for lawmakers to tackle.
"I am inspired by the camaraderie and the collaboration that has already infused this session. It seems unprecedented, and I've got to tell you, I'm feeling it myself," Abbott said about 50 minutes into his remarks. "I'm feeling moved. And I want to set the example. For example, I'm willing to step up and put aside past differences and work with [state Rep.] Lyle Larson to reinstate the rivalry game between the Aggies and the Longhorns." The announcement was greeted with cheers.
Larson, a San Antonio Republican and a past thorn in Abbott's side, filed a bill in November that could revive the rivalry game, which ceased being played when A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference. But Larson, whose bill would require that a nonconference A&M-UT-Austin game be scheduled each November, had seemed ambivalent that the legislation would pass, telling a Bryan-College Station news outlet, "I'm realistic about the trajectory of the bill. ... It's mainly a talking piece."
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A bill filed in 2013 also attempted to bring back the flagship faceoff game. It did not receive a hearing.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.