Unless my memory fails me, the SEC has a rule against student sections within 20 rows of the visiting team's bench because of various incidents at Florida Field over the years that firmly established Gator fans as the Philadelphians of the conference. Without a tradition of throwing bags of urine at opposing teams, Texas A&M's student body is apparently not happy about the prospect of having to move the Aggie Band and approximately 1,000 additional student seats away from the visiting team's bench:
The Aggie Band may have to find a new place to sit in Kyle Field because of a Southeastern Conference rule that students can't sit directly behind the visiting bench.
The longstanding rule, meant to protect the safety of the visiting players, prohibits students from sitting in the first 25 rows behind the opposing bench between the 30 yard lines.
That 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."
The student senate also opposes reduced student seating, stating in a resolution that it would hurt the "traditions and pageantry" of Kyle Field's atmosphere.
My impression of Texas A&M is that they have more traditions than any other college football program. This episode confirms that impression, as the Aggies are now maintaining that the location of their band is one of their countless, inviolable traditions. Given that the SEC is ditching far greater traditions as a result of Texas A&M and Missouri joining the conference, I am not sympathetic. Aggies, you are new arrivals in our conference, so just be happy that you are no longer in a league where your arch-rival does whatever it wants and move your band somewhere else in your massive stadium. The band can still be the pulse of the spirit of the passion of the loyalty of the je ne sais quoi of Aggieland in another section.
On the other hand, I can say without reservation that the Aggie Band is the best marching band I have seen in years of going to college football games, so maybe they should get to sit wherever they choose. I saw them in a road game at Colorado in 1995 and by the end of the performance, Colorado students were cheering the Aggie Band and booing their own.
By the way, if I were a Texas fan, I would put this quote on a bumper sticker:
"We have no idea what they're going to tell us Monday morning," said Mark Jessup, head drum major of the Aggie Band. "We'll submit to authority because that's our job as Aggies, but until then, we'd like to see the university fight this."