Bill Byrne
Director of Athletics

I was really proud of the way our football team performed on Saturday night in West Texas.  It wasn’t a perfect game, but our team showed a lot of character bouncing back from two heartbreaking losses and prevailing in a hostile environment.

This was our third victory in a row over Texas Tech and twice in a row in Lubbock.

I was excited to win the game. I was really impressed with our redshirt freshman left guard Jarvis Harrison from Navasota, Texas. He did an incredible job for his first start. I thought the same thing with our true freshman safety from League City, Texas, Howard Matthews. He had a terrific game.

I was pleased to see the way we responded after the Texas Tech defense keyed on Christine Michael which allowed Cyrus Gray to run for more yards. And after wide receiver Jeff Fuller was injured, our young receivers stepped up, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill made some outstanding throws.

I thought our special teams were terrific. Our kickoffs by Randy Bullock were outstanding as he cleared the end zone several times. The 68-yard punt by Ryan Epperson came at just the right time. And what can you say about the 65-yard return by Terrence Frederick after Dustin Harris blocked the field goal attempt? It was a game changer.

The fans that have been here a lot longer than I have said funny things happen in Lubbock. I’m glad we were on positive side of the score.

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Our longtime Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations Alan Cannon received a nice gift and some very kind words from the media relations staff at Texas Tech. Noting our likely final visit to Lubbock, AC received a commemorative display box with an A&M and a Tech helmet. The Tech folks also thanked our entire media relations staff for all the professionalism shown by our staff. They said our staff was the best to work with.

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One of the most disappointing things I observed during our game in Lubbock was the way the Texas Tech fans booed our injured players. Apparently, they felt the injuries were faked in an attempt to slow the game down. I was in the locker room after we won the game and can attest to the separated shoulder, dislocated elbow, knee injuries, and concussion suffered by members of our team. It was a hard hitting game. We don’t coach our athletes to fake injuries. We’ve never done it before, and we are not going to in the future.

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This week our football game against Baylor at Kyle Field will kickoff at 11 a.m. and be televised nationally on FX. This is the same channel our game with Texas Tech appeared on last week.

When the television cameras turn on, there is no better sight than the sea of maroon coming from the 12th Man. We encourage fans to always wear maroon, because maroon is Texas A&M.

In addition to the television broadcast, you can listen to the Texas A&M Sports Network with the pregame starting at 10 a.m. You can hear the game on Sirius channel 139 and XM channel 139, and at AggieAthletics.com or on your smart phone at RadioAggieland.com.

The game is sold out. It will mark our fifth consecutive sellout at Kyle Field.

Also, our Thanksgiving night game against our friends from the state capital is sold out. The only public tickets remaining to see us play at Kyle Field this season are for Missouri (Oct. 29), and Kansas (Nov. 19). We have 950 tickets remaining for Missouri and about 1,550 remaining for Kansas. These tickets are from the allotment the schools returned to us.

To purchase football tickets, click here

The flyover this week will be performed by a pair of F-18s from China Lake, Calif.

The early kickoff means early Spirit Walk and Kids Yell Practice. Join us for Kids Yell at 8:30 a.m. and Spirit Walk at 8:45 a.m.

Our Honorary Captain this week will be All-American and Butkus Award winner Von Miller. He was the No. 2 overall selection in last spring’s NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. We are excited to have Von joining us this Saturday. Due to time constraints, Von will not be able to participate in Aggie Fan Zone autographs. So we encourage fans to be inside Kyle Field early to recognize Von when he is introduced with about eight minutes to go on the countdown clock.

Right before the team enters the field, we will be recognizing members of our 1991 Southwest Conference Champion football team. They will help the Corps form the pregame boot line.

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Earlier this week, we were notified by the conference office that our football game on October 22 against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, will kick off at 2:30 p.m. and be televised by ABC.

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I continue to receive several questions regarding future football schedules and SEC scheduling. We talked with the SEC staff on Monday regarding future schedules. I believe we will have the final schedule released in December. This may be the case for some other sports, too. We will meet with SEC officials in Birmingham in early November, and they will also be here in late October to go over conference rules, policies, procedures with many of our staff and coaches. We also plan to send staff to various SEC events to see how our new family operates. We are going to try to make this transition as seamless as possible.

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Marilyn and I were lucky enough to travel with our defending national champion women’s basketball team to visit Washington, D.C. to meet the President. It was a lot of long hours, but what a wonderful trip it was!

We arrived late Wednesday evening at Reagan National Airport and were greeted by our congressman Rep. Bill Flores ‘76. It was an incredibly kind gesture for the congressman to be waiting at 10 p.m. for our team to arrive.

We stayed at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Va. and were told it was the oldest existing Marriott. I recalled staying at this same hotel as a family when our kids Bill and Greg were age 4 and 18 months respectively. It brought back some great memories. The hotel recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. It’s in a great location near the Iwo Jima Memorial.

We got up early to visit the Capitol. When the bus arrived on Capitol Hill, Congressman Flores and his wife Gena were waiting on the sidewalk for us. We went through all kinds of security before Aggie Congressman Flores gave us a terrific tour of the Capitol. We also met Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She joined our team for a group photo and gave us a proclamation she read on the floor of the U.S. Senate after we won the national championship. Another Aggie congressman Rep. Louie Gohmert ’75 met us in the rotunda and helped with the tour. Then, we went outside to the steps of the Capitol on the Senate side to be met by Senator John Cornyn.

Next, it was off to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial which had just opened a few weeks ago. There are quotations etched in granite on the walls of the memorial which speak to the civil rights movement and the humanity of man. The memorial is so new there were not pamphlets available yet, but it’s an amazing tribute.

From there we went to lunch in the Shops at National Place. I swear everyone in our group stopped at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. It was fantastic! The potatoes for the fries came from a farm in Lewisville, Idaho, which is about five miles from where I went to high school.

Then, we were off to the White House. The staff greeted us like long lost friends. I’ve been lucky enough to go to the White House on several occasions with other teams, and one of the chief trainers from the Secret Service, Miles Brey, a Nebraska graduate, sought us out to make sure we had a good experience. The staff took us on a terrific private tour. After the China Room, Red Room, Green Room, Blue Room and East Room, the team was ushered into a conference room off the Oval Office. There we were welcomed by Ambassador Ron Kirk, who is our United States Trade Representative and former Mayor of Dallas. He was excited to meet the team, especially the players from the Metroplex. And then it came time to go into the Oval Office. The door opened and I heard Sydney Colson say, “There he is. I think I’m going to faint!”

One of the girls closest to the door said, “Can I give you a hug, Mr. President?” He said sure and proceeded to hug each one of them as they entered the Oval Office. And then President Obama started talking to our players and coaches about his daughters. He expressed his youngest daughter, Sasha, is nine years old and interested in basketball. He said what wonderful role models our team was for his daughters and all girls growing up. And then he started talking about the NCAA Tournament, and that’s where he made his only mistake. He asked us where we were seeded, and Colson said, “We were second, and you did not pick us to win.” He shrugged his shoulders and said he had only picked one right in his two years in office.

Coach Gary Blair then said we have a jersey for you. “Normally,” Blair said, “you would get the No. 1, but the girls decided Michelle (Obama) would get No. 1. And since we are from the home of the 12th Man, we are giving you No. 12, because that represents Texas A&M and our 12th Man is always standing ever vigilant.”

“That makes sense,” the President said. “Because around here, in this family, I come in around 12th.”

As we were leaving to go to the Rose Garden, I asked the President about his desk. His Chief of Staff tapped me on the shoulder and said I should go outside as the ceremony was set to start. The President said, “No, I am not finished talking to him.” So, of course, I stayed as instructed.

He said the desk was the same one that President George W. Bush used and also the one President Kennedy used. You may recall the desk has a door in the front through which John John was peering in the famous photo. The desk was a gift from Queen Victoria of England. It’s called the Queen’s Desk. It is made of remnants from the wreckage of the HMS Resolute. It was very interesting indeed.

From a personal perspective, it was interesting to me watching how different presidents deal with teams over the years. President Clinton and President Bush welcomed small teams in the Oval Office. But when the Nebraska football team was honored at the White House, President Clinton had us in the Rose Garden and only the team captains where allowed in the Oval Office. All–in-all it was an experience I will never forget and one I hope we get to do lot more.

Our team from AggieAthletics.com and 12th Man Productions were at the White House and chronicled the women’s basketball team’s experience. You can click here to see videos and photos from the trip.

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Speaking of women’s basketball, the team held its first official practice last Sunday as we begin our quest to defend our national championship.

Season tickets are on sale now. We’ve already sold a record number that is up 50 percent from what we sold last season. For the first time we are also offering a six-pack for women’s basketball. You can find out more information on purchasing season tickets by clicking here.

Our women’s team will hold a Maroon and White Scrimmage on Friday, Oct. 28 at Reed Arena. Admission is free.

The lone exhibition game will be on Sunday, Nov. 6 against Oklahoma City University.

As a reminder, tickets are also on sale for the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball First and Second Rounds being hosted at Reed Arena. Click here for more information.

Meanwhile, our men’s basketball team will hold its first regular season practice this Friday evening. New head coach Billy Kennedy spent several days practicing and playing games back in August as our team participated in a European trip.

The men will have a Maroon and White Scrimmage on Friday, Oct. 21 at Reed Arena. Admission is free. Our men will host an exhibition game against Dallas Baptist on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.

Season tickets are also on sale for men’s basketball by clicking here.

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This Friday night at Midnight Yell Practice we will host our annual Maroon Madness. We plan to construct a basketball court at Kyle Field, and our men’s and women’s teams will be introduced to the student body. It’s a very unique event, not only because there is a basketball court and two hoops on Kyle Field, but also because the largest number of students are attending our Maroon Madness than any similar event in the nation.

This year, ESPNU will be providing live look-ins of our event, while the entire event will be carried live on the internet at ESPN3.com.

ESPN is bringing in a production truck with five or six cameras and a special announcer’s set. Hosting for ESPN will be Dave Armstrong and Carolyn Peck.

I know our football game kicks off early the next morning, but I hope the 12th Man is going to be in attendance to show the nation what basketball in Aggieland is all about.

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I’m proud to report every one of our teams won this past weekend.

Our volleyball team came back to win the final three games on the road against Kansas. We are now 14-4 overall and 3-2 in the league. We will host Oklahoma tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Reed Arena.

Earlier on Saturday, our defending national champion equestrian team beat our soon to be biggest rival Georgia, 13-10. It was our 18th straight win at the Brazos County Expo Complex. This Saturday, our team will ride against New Mexico in Albuquerque.

The weekend started in terrific fashion as our No. 17 soccer team beat Texas Tech, 2-0, in Lubbock on Friday. Freshman Kelley Monogue scored both goals for us and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and to the TopDrawerSoccer.com Team of the Week. We are now 4-1 in the league and in second place. This Friday, our team will host Drake at 6:30 p.m.

Our cross country teams were off last week, but we return to competition this Friday at the Wisconsin Invitational in Madison, Wis.

On Sunday, our men’s golf team will start the season at the Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio. The previous start to our season was rained out a few weeks ago in Washington.

Also on Sunday, our No. 10 women’s golf team will start play in the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic in Norman, Okla.

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On Monday, we learned of the passing of Weldon “Pappy” Drennan. He was 101 years old. Pappy, at the time of his passing, was our oldest living football letterman. He held football season tickets for years and years until he physically could no longer attend games a few  years ago. I met Pappy a few times, and he was always very cordial and loved A&M very much.

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Finally, I don’t feel the need to defend my comments about the incident in Lubbock because whatever was thrown on that bus sure stunk and I know vandalism when I see it.  I took personal offense just as I would have if someone did this to my own car.  This was a first in my 28 years as an Athletic Director ... and hopefully a last.

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Given our recent experience during our football team’s visit in West Texas, I don’t think I need to remind our fans we are Aggies, and we treat our opponents with respect. We have no intention of treating this week’s game with Baylor any differently with security or staging. I don’t think we need to, because we are Texas A&M University. Our plan each week, whether it’s football or any sport, is to ensure that everyone coming to our venue has a good, safe experience. And that’s going to continue to happen in Aggieland no matter whom we play or which conference we are in.

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I hope to see you at Kyle Field this weekend.

Gig’Em!