LAST CALL: PR is peacemaker in UT-A&M dispute

The seeds of detente planted in state visits to Crawford could be taking root elsewhere in central Texas. Recent diplomatic developments may signal peace in the state's sports civil war.

The seeds of detente planted in state visits to Crawford could be taking root elsewhere in central Texas. Recent diplomatic developments may signal peace in the state's sports civil war.

Decades from now, Texas 7th graders may be compelled to memorize June 28, 2002, as the date the University of Texas and Texas A&M called a truce in their heated rivalry. On that date, they will learn, UT president Larry Faulkner wore a maroon tie and petted A&M's collie mascot Reveille VII, while A&M president Ray Bowen said hello to the Longhorns' Bevo. Already, the Dallas Morning News has compared the event to Nixon's China visit.

Or maybe it was all just a publicity stunt dreamed up by A&M government affairs VP Ellyn Perrone while chatting with her UT counterpart, Gwen Grisby. The presidents of the two schools switched offices for a day to tout their joint projects, present a unified front on educational goals, and lament their common funding challenges.

Each school played it to the hilt, showering the other's president with gifts emblazoned with its own logos and showing off its most cutting-edge facilities. Their joint press teleconference got widespread pickup throughout the state, and even on the Paul Harvey radio show.

Signs that no photo-op could soothe generations of gridiron grudges were plentiful, however. When asked whether he'd rather be a dead dog or T-sip (that's derogatory Aggie slang for a UT student), Reveille rolled over on cue. And we notice they didn't plan this little lovefest during football season.

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