The Way Back: Aggie Armadillos

An armadillo is removed from the field by a University of Texas Longhorn Band Member during halftime of the 1971 Texas vs. Texas A&M game.

Few rivalries are quite as storied as UT vs. Texas A&M. The Longhorns and the Aggies first met for a showdown in 1894 and, starting in 1915, would face off yearly—until Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2011. The 117-year rivalry has been memorialized every which way, including on a Wheaties box in 2006.   

But it wasn’t exclusive to the field or mere smack-talk between students. The occasional prank took place, including the one pictured. At the 1971 Thanksgiving Day football game held in College Station, a suspected couple of Aggies released two armadillos onto Kyle Field just as the Longhorn Band was getting ready to perform.  

There is an explanation for the unleashed little mammals: In the weeks prior to this game, a movement on campus to change the UT mascot from the Longhorns to the Armadillos had gained nationwide attention—and ridicule—among students, alumni, and the media.   

But UT got the last laugh. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, one of the rogue armadillos was rescued by an assistant Texas band director, “while the other high-tailed it toward the Longhorn cheerleaders. He knew where he belonged.” The Longhorns (or the Armadillos) trumped the Aggies 34-14 that day, won the 1971 Southwest Conference title, and went on to the Cotton Bowl. And of course, UT kept its beloved Bevo as the school mascot.  

CREDIT: Tom Lankes, Prints and Photographs Collection, The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History


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