Ask any Texas A&M Aggie and he’ll tell you that one of the great things about Kyle Field is the tradition of the 12th Man. Part of that tradition involves having the band seated right behind the opposing team’s bench and when they begin Southeastern Conference play during the 2012 season, that tradition will come to an end.
A longstanding SEC rule prohibits student seating in the first 25 rows and between the 30 yard lines. The rule was put in place to protect the safety of visiting teams and has never been challenged.
They want university president R. Bowen Loftin to request a waiver, and few observers believe they’ll have much sympathy from the other members of the conference.
[The rule] would impact 1,400 seats, including all of the 374-student Aggie Band. Some 30,000 tickets are set aside for students in the 82,600-capacity Kyle Field.
Students voiced strong opposition to the rule last week, prompting Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin to schedule a meeting with student leaders Monday to discuss options.
"The Aggie Band is the pulse of the spirit of Aggieland," said Jeff Pickering, student body president. "Having them right there on top of the opposing team is important."
Pickering said an exception should be made for Texas A&M because it's unique. He said the Aggie Band, which is a unit in the university's storied Corps of Cadets, is a military outfit.
"We can control a military outfit," Pickering said. "And the fish [freshmen] are thinking about the show they're about to put on. They don't have time to throw things. And what are they going to throw? A piccolo?"
The rest of the SEC membership will view Texas A&M’s “specialness” about as warmly as they do Mississippi State’s cowbells and Tennessee’s piping in of Rocky Top. They may think they’re special and unique and all but as stated above, the rule is designed to protect the players.
That means players for all 14 teams. If the rule is changed, it will have to be made conference-wide. The other teams aren’t making an exception for Aggieland. If they did (and please pardon the cliché), all hell would break loose.
Do you really want LSU students - with 12 hours or more of “prep time,” standing directly behind Texas A&M players in Baton Rouge? How about Florida students virtually on top of the Aggie players in The Swamp? Of course not. That’s not a knock against those fan bases; it’s a testament to the passion in the SEC.
Could you also imagine the LSU student section seated just a few yards away from Nick Saban? That’s going to be a night game, by the way. How about having the Alabama students seated right behind the Auburn Tigers in the 2012 Iron Bowl? The dreaded Gator Jort Squad right behind Mark Richt at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party?
Aggie, you really don’t want this and trust us here—it won’t end well.
Slive and the rest of the conference leadership will dutifully listen to Bowen and let him make his case. Then, they’ll consider the conference-wide ramifications and politely tell the Aggies to deal with it.