First-year Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher has created a buzz that's expected to result in a record crowd for Saturday's 4 p.m. Maroon & White Game at Kyle Field.
Fisher, not long after being hired from Florida State, told the crowd at the men's basketball game against Prairie View A&M that he couldn't wait for spring when they'd set the NCAA record for attendance at a spring football game.
Early indications are the Aggies could make a run at topping the 100,189 fans who attended Ohio State's spring game in 2016.
Admission is free except for suites, clubs and loge areas, and 81 of the suites have been taken, more than six times the number used last year when 21,120 attended A&M's spring football game. There's also 342 former lettermen returning for the festivities that include an alumni flag football game at halftime featuring A&M Hall of Famers Jacob Green, Ray Mickens, Dat Nguyen, Quentin Coryatt and Bucky Richardson along with 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Nguyen and Mickens will be the coaches of the Legends Game with R.C. Slocum, the school's winningest coach, delivering the pregame speech. Nguyen will be assisted by Richardson and Coryatt in coaching Team Pickard. Nguyen will be assisted by Terrence Murphy and Derrick Frazier in coaching Team Crow.
The current Aggie football team has been divided into two equal squads for a real game instead of a scrimmage. Dividing the teams is a format Fisher used at Florida State.
Fisher will be the commissioner with his staff doing the coaching, and he says he is just as eager as the fans to see the players perform.
"I hope [there's] two teams that come out there ready to compete and play their tails off and represent themselves for these fans and these people with great effort, great discipline, toughness and just play football the way it's supposed to be played," Fisher said.
The 16 seniors were divided in half, then they drafted the other players.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," said senior fullback Cullen Gillaspia who will play for the Maroon. "We're going to be playing against our best friends and get that chance to get out there and compete."
NOTES -- A&M's record attendance for a Maroon & White Game is 45,212 set in 2013, which featured Manziel. Students were admitted free for that game with adults paying $5. That was the day's lone game on ESPN with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit doing the broadcast. ... The 1982 spring game had a lot of hoopla because it was Jackie Sherrill's first season. He brought back Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow, and former Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant attended. A&M lettermen returned, practiced for a few days, then played the varsity. The crowd was 21,500 -- admission was $5 for adults and $2 for students.