There are times when the wonders of the vast amount of information available on the World Wide Web are just totally mind-boggling. There is, it would seem, a Web site for almost everything. Take for example, the English phenomenon of the cliché.
On the information highway you can learn that there is ClichéSite.com, and it will tell you that the definition of the term "bragging rights" originated in the United States and is defined as "the right to brag or boast after winning a game or beating an opponent."
ClichéSite.com must have known about the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry.
Because at its core, this thing had never been simply about "bragging rights."
If it was about winning and losing, then how did the rivalry survive during the amazing 35 years from 1940 through 1974, when Texas won 31 games, there was one tie, and Texas A&M won only three times?
In a series that began in 1894, Texas leads, 73-35-5. That includes a stretch from 1984 through 1994 when Texas A&M won 10 of 11 games.
Basically, this rivalry as Mack Brown would say, "is what it is."
And sometimes, defining what "it" is becomes difficult. That is because when you start pontificating about what matters to whom and why, your mouth usually gets way ahead of your brain.
All over the country, this is "rivalry" week. We read, for example, that Kansas and Missouri - a rivalry which has suddenly been thrust into the national spotlight - don't like each other because a Confederate raider from Missouri in the War Between the States crossed the Kansas border and burned Lawrence, Kansas to the gound, killing a lot of its citizens.
To this day, some Missouri students wear t-shirts that say, "We burned your town."
Now, that's a heated (pardon the pun) rivalry.
We've all heard this week about the decided differences in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. We saw that first hand when the Longhorns played at Ohio State in 2005, and some of the edge was taken off the rabid Buckeye fans because they were so effusive in their thanks to the Longhorns for beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl the previous January.
I remember when I was being courted for a job at the University of Alabama in 1970 that the late Charley Thornton, who was the SID for Bear Bryant, spent most of a trip between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham explaining the Alabama-Auburn war.
Mack Brown often goes to great lengths to answer the question of "which is Texas' biggest rival, Oklahoma or Texas A&M? He makes it clear that one is a "state versus state" and that the Texas and Texas A&M rivalry is as big an "in state" rivalry as you will find.
History tells us much of the reason why. Anything that spans three different centuries has some legs to it. When the founding fathers of the Republic of Texas, and later the state, conceived the idea of two colleges, one a liberal arts college which was located in Austin and the other a land grant, agricultural and mechanical college near Bryan, the dye was cast for competition.
Starting with the berth of college football at the two institutions in 1890s, the showpiece of that competition moved to the arena of the gridiron, and the rivalry grew so contentious that the two schools actually quit playing each other between 1911 and 1915.
The series resumed when both teams became members of the newly formed Southwest Conference in 1915.
They say in Alabama that you are born either a Crimson Tide fan or an Auburn fan, and nothing can change that. In Texas, however, Texas and Texas A&M would be linked as family, and therefore, the rivalry would take on a different look than any of the others. That is because, until the 1960s, Texas A&M was an all-male school, with a concentration on the value of the Corps, a training ground for some of America's most distinguished military men.
That meant that when Aggie men went looking for wives, often they would hook up with girls who graduated from The University of Texas. Thus, the hallowed family tradition of Thanksgiving Day, would, by its very nature, be a family affair.
Where other series seemed driven by hate, the Texas and Texas A&M rivalry became one of respect. Three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year, people would live together and work together, and on game day, they would be polarized - Aggies and Longhorns.
So what you have here is a blend of school pride and family ties, and that in no way takes away from the competitive fierceness of the loyalties. It simply means that men and women, now including graduates of both Texas and Texas A&M, reflect the fact that they are proud of their school, and that they are also proud of their state and their family.
On Friday, friends like Stephen McGee and Jordan Shipley will be on opposite sides of the field, and they will battle intensely against each other--and then likely go hunting together soon.
Perhaps it was said best in the book "What It Means To Be A Longhorn" by Don Talbert, the eldest of the three Talbert brothers who played for Darrell Royal and never lost to either Texas A&M or Oklahoma.
"The Talberts touched a lot of years at Texas football, and we've carried on the fight," he said. "We don't back down from no Aggies, but we have some good friends who are Aggies. John David Crow is a great guy, and Jack Pardee was Diron's best man in his wedding. We know what their tradition is, and what it means to beat the Aggies."
So there you have it - pride, tradition, family ties and yes, bragging rights.
And Friday in College Station, all of that will be on the line one more time.