It’s a weekend of firsts for Texas A&M and the University of Mississippi, as the Aggies will travel to Oxford, Miss., to battle the Rebels in their first Southeastern Conference road game. Though this year also marks the first time that the two universities have been members of the same athletic conference, Texas A&M and Mississippi have similar histories: they are both recognized as cornerstones in their respective states.
Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, opened its doors as the state’s first public institution of higher education in 1848 — in fact, for 23 years, it was the only such institution. Similarly, Texas A&M, which celebrated its 136th birthday on Thursday (Oct. 4), is also the first public institution of higher education in the state of Texas.
In addition to being the first public institutions of higher education in their states, Texas A&M and Mississippi also share designations as sea- and space-grant universities, underscoring even further their commitments to the states of Texas and Mississippi.
Like Texas A&M, Ole Miss has a unique culture. For example, Aggie visitors to Oxford this weekend can expect to hear a lot of “Hotty Toddy.” That’s the Rebels’ popular cheer, somewhat similar to the Aggies’ collection of yells. Aggie fans who attended the 2012 NCAA Baseball Regional at Texas A&M earlier this year have already heard many renditions of “Hotty Toddy,” as the Rebels’ baseball team was part of the tournament field at Blue Bell Park.
Aggie visitors will also get a taste of legendary Mississippi tailgating this weekend. While Texas A&M has been recognized as having the top overall gameday environment in college football, Mississippi’s tailgating area, The Grove, has a reputation for being one of the best tailgating spots in the country. Hailed as “the Holy Grail of tailgating sites,” The Grove spans nearly 10 acres in the heart of campus and is surrounded by magnolia, oak and elm trees. Upwards of 25,000 people can be found in The Grove, wearing their “Sunday best” amid an array of red, white and blue tents — many adorned with hanging chandeliers — in the hours before kickoff.
This weekend’s kickoff at 6 p.m. on ESPNU will be one for the history books: it marks the first time that Texas A&M has set foot in Oxford’s Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Texas A&M and Ole Miss have played each other only four times — the first of those meetings was in 1911 and the last in 1980 — and the Rebels have visited College Station twice.
“The University of Mississippi provides a picturesque setting for SEC football in the fall,” said Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jason Cook, who was born in Mississippi and graduated from Ole Miss’ rival, Mississippi State. “Aggies traveling to new locations, experiencing different traditions and learning about new conference members are a few of the many things that make Texas A&M’s first season in the SEC so special.”