The newest member of the SEC West is serious about its football. The Texas Aggies reside in a state that eats, sleeps and breathes it, and their entrance into the SEC has set them apart from their state brethren residing in the People’s Republic of Austin.

Kyle Field is Home of the 12th Man

A&M has some of the best traditions in all of college football — if not the best — led by the 12th Man, which was born in 1922. E. King Gill, a former football member of head coach Dana X. Bible’s squad who was playing basketball at the time, was helping reporters identify football players during a game when Bible called him from the press box to suit up. Gill never made it in the game but was honored as accepting the call to help his team. A&M uses that spirit to call its student body the 12th Man.

Former head coach Jackie Sherrill introduced the 12th Man kickoff squad to A&M in the 1980s, which was comprised of regular students who won the jobs through open tryouts. As college football evolved into the 1990s, then head coach R.C. Slocum limited the 12th Man to one man on the kickoff team who wore #12.

Heisman Trophy winner Brown chases down Barhorst, who had stolen Brown’s belt towel.

One of the most memorable moments of the 12th Man took place during A&M’s 35-10 win over Notre Dame in the 1988 Cotton Bowl. Walk-on Warren Barhorst tackled Notre Dame’s kick returner, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner and former Dallas high school football star Tim Brown, and then preceded to rip off Brown’s belt towel. While it endeared him to the Aggies, Brown ran towards the A&M sidelines and jumped on Barhorst, earning the Heisman Trophy winner a 15-yard penalty and an ejection from the game.

“I probably talk about it five times a week,” Barhorst said in an interview with 12th Man Magazine. “Friends, colleagues, clients, strangers — you name it — bring it up.”

Today, Barhorst owns the largest Nationwide insurance agency in the country in Houston.

A&M’s traditions go well beyond the 12th Man, including Midnight Yell, led by their well-known corps of cadets, their Gig’em hand sign, their “Howdy” welcome, their mascot Reveille, and Silver Taps, which is a tribute held for a graduate or undergraduate student who passes away while enrolled at Texas A&M on the first Tuesday of the month following the student’s passing, among others.

To learn more about the Aggies’ traditions, visit Texas A&M University’s Traditions Council website.

ESPN’s College Gameday will be in College Station Saturday for Texas A&M’s inaugural SEC game against Florida at 3:30 pm EDT.