Deep in the heart of Aggie country, the stuff of Longhorn dreams is kept a secret.
As the University of Texas prepares to play for the national football championship Thursday, thousands of victory T-shirts are being pre-printed in one of the last places one would expect: College Station, home of longtime rival Texas A&M University.
“Our printer is up and running,” Brian Jewell, vice president of marketing for the nonprofit University (of Texas) Co-op said of a contract with C.C. Creations, near the A&M campus.
By game time, sealed boxes with 5,000 of the shirts are to have been delivered to University co-ops in Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.
Truckloads more will be standing by, Jewell said.
If the Horns win, the shirts will be prized keepsakes for fans. If they lose, they are to be shredded, gone forever.
“Nobody can see … unless we win,” Jewell said.
T-shirts are usually the most visible memento of a championship, but would likely be followed by hats and just about anything else used for sports bragging.
With a Longhorn victory, co-op stores are to stay open after the game, as are some Academy Sports and Outdoors stores, to draw fans hunting for shirts.
Academy wins either way, as the chain is ready to sell crimson-colored shirts at its Alabama stores, should the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide be the victor.
Rob Morgan, head of the management and marketing department at the University of Alabama, said merchants were hedging their bets to sell their products.
“The sooner that it is available, the more you are going to sell,” he said. “It is kind of like strike while the iron is hot.”
Sarah Le is one UT fan who just couldn't wait for the end of the game. She was already at the co-op earlier this week looking for memorabilia. As the Houston optometry student, who graduated from UT put it: “I'll be back for sure.”
Bellaire High School teacher Charleen Blank described herself, as well as her husband and daughter, as die-hard fans.
“I bleed orange,” she said. “We are an orange family.”
The co-op's Jewell said he has no problem selling College Station-made shirts for what would be among the most celebrated moments in Longhorn history.
“It just goes to show you, when someone does a good job … we'll work with anybody.”
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