Who likes Tarleton?
Not me. Not AC Hall of Honor inductee Jerry Bishop. Probably not you either.
Today, Tarleton State University is an NCAA Division 1 school. With 14,000 students, Tarleton is the second largest college within the Texas A&M University System after the flagship in College Station. The Texan football team is scheduled to play the Aggies at Kyle Field in 2025.
But before Tarleton was a D1 university with national ambitions, the school was AC’s top rival in the TIAA conference from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. This NAIA conference, created after QB Jerry Bishop was setting NAIA records for AC in the 1960s, was the dream of former AC President John Moseley. The name was chosen to honor the original TIAA of 1908, which included both AC and Texas A&M.
AC-Tarleton was a genuine rivalry, which caused some very real Sherman celebration during its 15-year existence. AC football owned a winning record against Tarleton in TIAA competition during that period. The 1981 national championship team crushed Tarleton 50-7 in what might have been the sweetest win. The 1988 Roo victory in Stephenville to clinch a TIAA title and NAIA playoff berth might have been the most meaningful. Hey, we don’t like Tarleton.
The rivalry also caused some very real frustration. The 1990 football loss hurt and my Roo baseball buddies know the pain of Tarleton defeats. Women’s basketball and volleyball also suffered at the hands of Tarleton more than a few times. And, my only 1990 tennis loss came at the hands of Tarleton’s top player. Tarleton said adios to the TIAA and hello to Division 2 in the 1990s; we Roos weren’t very gracious with our goodbyes. Hey, we don’t like Tarleton.
The road trips certainly didn’t help the relationship, especially how the Texans would greet the Roos on trips from Sherman to Stephenville. AC could always expect more than a few “ROO MEAT” signs as they made their way into town. The Texans weren’t always gracious as hosts. Hey, we don’t like Tarleton.
While Tarleton was not a conference football foe during Jerry Bishop’s days in the early 1960s, competition in basketball, baseball, track, & tennis was commonplace. AC would sometimes get the better of Tarleton in those days. But just as frequently, the Roos would have their hands full. On February 18, 1963, during Bob Mason’s first season as coach, Tarleton basketball handed AC an 80-77 loss at Hughey Gym. Jerry Bishop and his football teammates were probably in attendance.
So, rooting against Tarleton comes naturally for a lot of us Roos. It is easy for me. Probably you too. And I know it will be easy this week for Roo Jerry Bishop.
Tarleton basketball travels to Gonzaga on Monday to face the preseason #1 nationally ranked Zags. The former TIAA rival of Austin College will be venturing onto the home court of perhaps the best college basketball team in the nation. Gonzaga, an NCAA tournament finalist last year, is led by All-American power forward Drew Timme. Timme is also Jerry Bishop’s grandson.
Yup, I know who I will be rooting for on Monday: the grandson of a Roo legend. Get ready Tarleton. You may have graduated from your TIAA days and are now enjoying your lofty NCAA D1 status as a major state school in the A&M University System. But come Monday we Roos are all gonna enjoy watching Timme and Gonzaga turn you into “DREW MEAT.”
Go Zags! h/t Megan Bishop Timme