If a friendly man named Joe Giles should happen to offer you a free golf tip, box your ears, shut your eyes and sprint in the other direction. During his swing, his body takes more high-speed twists and turns than a Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix race car.
No need to check the weather report. Just ask Joe in mid-swing. He can tell you what tacky colors of shorts his playing partners are wearing (back swing), if any clouds are in the sky (top of the swing) and which way the wind is blowing the trees (middle of the down swing).
If, on the other hand, Giles should happen to be explaining why he wants his alma mater to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, pull up a chair and hang on every syllable. He makes a strong case.
A 1983 graduate of Texas A&M, Giles is the director of customer marketing for Hill’s Pet Nutrition in Topeka. He lives in Cedar Creek, golfs in Lawrence and doesn’t go a day without checking the status of the Aggies’ football recruiting battles. Armed with more knowledge and feeling, he articulates the reasons behind his school’s impending conference move better than the pundits.
“I sat down Friday night with my nephew Justin,” Giles said. “He’s a Longhorn, and he couldn’t understand why the Aggies would leave the Big 12.”
Did he get it once Uncle Joe explained it to him?
“Yeah,” Giles said. “He’s a bright kid, even if he is a Longhorn.”
Escaping the suffocating shadow of the University of Texas is one motivating force, Giles acknowledges, sprinting to the SEC an equal factor.
“I’ll put the game-day experience at Kyle Field against anywhere,” he said. “It’s about bringing the big games in and all the excitement of game day and the tradition of game day. When you think about LSU, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia coming to Kyle Field five, six games a year, it’s chilling to even think about. It really is. All those places have great game-day experiences.
There isn’t a lot of that in the Big 12.”
But road trips would go from so convenient to so costly.
“If you’ve ever watched a game in Waco, you kind of wonder why you went,” Giles said.
Aggies such as Giles are fed up with perception and reality not matching in terms of comparing the athletic performances of UT and A&M.
“As I’m listening to the ESPN perspective, it’s pretty clear to me the position is A&M is a second-class citizen to Texas,” Giles said. “Our programs have been on a par the past few years, and over the last 25 years (A&M) is 13-12 against Texas.
“Nobody would think that.”
Giles doesn’t run from the reality his Aggies don’t at the moment have the talent to win the SEC, but he also believes dangling the chance to play in the nation’s top conference would upgrade recruiting.
“Dalton Santos, the No. 1 middle linebacker recruit, was deciding between Tennessee and A&M,” Giles said. “The unequivocal, undeniable reason he chose Tennessee was he wanted to play in the SEC. He wanted to play smash-mouth football.
“That’s the style of play A&M fans want to see. If we could watch a football game and the score was 3-0 and we had 3, it would be a great football game.”
Especially if Texas had the zero.