Maisel: Even in loss, Texas A&M celebrates

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It's the age of Twitter, and you want to boil these new Texas A&M Aggies down to 140 characters. You want to say something pithy and martini-dry, pull out your snark. New league but not a new result.

Texas A&M led Florida by 10 points, 17-7, and lost, 20-17, just as it did five times last season.

Go ahead, hit send, and move on. But you didn't just miss the point. You never saw it. At the end of the first Saturday of the rest of Texas A&M's athletic life, the result of the game didn't matter much at all. They held a coronation on this Texas flatland, a celebration of what this university has become.

If you will pardon the expression in this red-leaning state, the move to the Southeastern Conference is change the Aggies can believe in.

History tells us that change is not something this campus handles well. In the span of Dr. Robert L. Walker's adult life, Texas A&M has changed from an all-male, all-white military institution into a coeducational, multiracial university respected for its research. Walker, the university's senior executive for development, graduated from A&M in 1958, four years before women enrolled.

"Students thought of this as a place where plowing farmers came," Walker said, "and marching soldiers."

They didn't want women. They didn't want students of color. They didn't want women in the corps. When that happened a generation ago, some of the male cadets would put raccoons and armadillos in the female cadets' dorm rooms at night.

But the university adjusted. Billy Pickard arrived on this campus as a student on June 1, 1952, the day after he graduated from high school in San Antonio. After his college graduation, he returned as a trainer for coach Gene Stallings nearly a half-century ago and never left.

For Ivan Maisel's full column, click here.