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Football: Cajuns ruined Aggies’ party plans

Football: Cajuns ruined Aggies’ party plans

Football: Cajuns ruined Aggies’ party plans

Dan McDonald

Ron Mertz had more beer than he knew what to do with when Texas A&M visited then-USL 10 seasons ago.
Mertz, who has served as president of the Acadiana chapter of A&M’s Association of Former Students for years, had literally hundreds of Aggies in town for that 1996 football contest at Cajun Field.

"We had more Aggies in town than you could imagine," Mertz said. "A lot of them are engineers at our oil companies around here, and they all came by our tent."

There was a big crowd for the pregame tailgating, but Mertz also had beer iced down for a postgame party in the tailgating area. But after the Cajuns had pulled off the upset 29-22 win, a lot of the out-of-town visitors didn’t stay around.
"I’ve lived here for over 30 years so I’ve got a ton of friends here," Mertz said. "Once you tap those kegs, that’s it, so I just started waving people over.

"The Aggies are like the people here. They can go through some beer."

That loss didn’t shake Mertz’ love for the A&M program, an attachment that started when he attended graduate school there.

"I did my undergraduate work at SMU," Mertz said. "I was an Aggie hater until I wound up there. Once you start getting in the program and start getting involved with the traditions, there’s a lot of spirit there."

Mertz talked with pride about A&M’s campus, including the Bush Presidential Library, and the traditions housed on the campus including tonight’s Yell Practice that takes place before every game.

"When it starts, the band parades through campus, and people follow the band in all together," Mertz said. "It looks like a big Mardi Gras parade. ”

Mertz won’t be making this weekend’s trip because of business commitments, but a large contingent from the Acadiana association will be there. That group also meets once a month at Don’s Seafood Restaurant.

"We’ve got 400 Acadiana Aggies," he said, "and we always have between 30 to 60 at the meetings. A lot of these guys may be in the North Sea or at some other far-flung place because of the oil business."

Mertz has a daughter attending UL, creating a house divided this weekend.

"I always root for the Cajuns," he said, "but not this weekend."

Originally published September 8, 2006