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Sumlin, Strong want A&M-Texas rivalry to return

Nov 24, 2011; College Station, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns cornerback Eddie Aboussie (23) breaks up a pass intended for Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Jeff Fuller (8) in the fourth quarter at Kyle Field. Texas defeated Texas A&M 27-25. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Nov 24, 2011; College Station, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns cornerback Eddie Aboussie (23) breaks up a pass intended for Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Jeff Fuller (8) in the fourth quarter at Kyle Field. Texas defeated Texas A&M 27-25. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Texas and Texas A&M haven’t played since 2011. Longhorns coach Charlie Strong and Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin both hope that changes soon.

The rivalry stems back to 1894 and was played on a yearly basis from 1915-2011, when the Aggies left the Big 12 and joined the SEC. Since then, athletics officials from both sides haven’t seemed too keen about the idea of rekindling the rivalry.

Strong and Sumlin told ESPN.com that they want it to happen.

“That game is so much a part of this state,” Strong, who is entering his second season with the Longhorns, told ESPN’s Chris Low. “Over 100 years, we’ve played that game. Why stop it now because we’re in different conferences? At some point, when it’s right for everybody with the different schedules, I would love to play Texas A&M again.”

Sumlin, who is entering his fourth season, said he’s heard from alums and fans – on both sides – who want to see the Aggies and Longhorns compete on the field.

"Now, moving into Year 4 and listening to our former students and our alumni base and knowing a lot of Texas alums, it's important that we play again," Sumlin said. "I think it will happen somewhere down the road.”

Sumlin said scheduling difficulties associated with the move to the SEC played a big part in the interruption of the series.

“The tough part for both parties, when we moved, was scheduling. The first two years we scrambled just to get anybody to play, and the SEC hadn't solidified their schedule until last year. We were at the mercy of whoever would play us,” Sumlin said.

"Now that we've solidified what the SEC's scheduling theory is going to be, you've seen us become more aggressive with our nonconference schedule, and that was the knock on us early on. People sometimes take scheduling for granted and say, 'Play this team.' They don't know the process. But I think the Texas series will happen. I just don't know when."

Strong has seen the importance of rivalries during his time as an assistant at Florida and South Carolina.

"Can you imagine Florida not playing Florida State or South Carolina not playing Clemson?" Strong said. "We all love to see those games. Within the state, it would have such a buildup. It's a game that needs to be played."

While Strong and Sumlin are on board, getting athletic directors from both sides on the same page could be an issue.

A&M athletic director Jason Cook said in November 2013 that the Aggies “hope to play them again in a BCS or playoff game at some point.”

Later, Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said last April that UT would need a “compelling business or branding reason” to schedule a game with A&M, echoing the sentiments of DeLoss Dodds, the former Texas AD. He also said in December that he would rather schedule schools like UCLA, Notre Dame or Ohio State than Texas A&M in order to "maximize what we can do building a brand."

Sumlin wants to look beyond the bickering and think about the perspective of the fans.

“It’s not about, ‘Is it important to me?’” Sumlin said. “It becomes, ‘What’s important to fans and former students and alums of Texas A&M and the University of Texas.’ That’s what matters.”

Meanwhile, with Strong being at an early point in his tenure, he hasn’t brought the idea to his superiors yet.

“Let me win some games first. Then I can push it,” Strong said. “I don’t know if I want to go walking into College Station right now.”

The Longhorns won the last matchup between the two schools and lead the overall series 76-37-5.

For more Texas A&M news, visit AggieYell.com.

For more Texas news, visit Orangebloods.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!