"My job tonight is to teach you guys about the making of the 12th Man Kickoff Team in the tale of Tim Brown's towel and how Bonfire and the Spirit of Aggieland made it all happen," Barhorst said to the crowd.
It may be hard to believe, but some of us around here don't know the tale of the 12th Man, or about the Tim Brown tale. But Barhorst didn't disappoint as he talked to everyone gathered about one of the most famous pieces of Aggieland lore.
Barhorst was a TexAg senior back in 1988 when he played for the Aggies in the Cotton Bowl. Five years earlier, Texas A&M Coach Jackie Sherrill wasn't getting the wins he wanted, Barhorst said, and that's when Bonfire Red Pot James "Fumes" Fuqua approached coach and invited him out to Stack. Coach Sherrill spent time building Bonfire to learn more about what Aggie tradition really means.
"Coach once said he didn't have a defensive end that was as tough as a Red Pot," Barhorst said. "Fumes told coach it might be a psychological boost to our football team if we had a bunch of Aggies out there whose only purpose was to take someone's head off."
Coach Sherrill considered what the Red Pots had said, Barhorst added, and set out to find a group of tough players who could cover kickoffs.
"It was the '88 Cotton Bowl and we were up against the Fightin' Irish of Notre Dame, led by Heisman trophy winner and later NFL Hall of Famer, Tim Brown," Barhorst said. "In the kickoff huddle, Chet Brooks said to the team, 'if you tackle Tim Brown, take his towel. He'll go nuts."
Only moments later, Barhorst helped tackle Brown, and snatched his towel. "I borrowed his towel," Barhorst said with a smile to the crowd. "Aggies don't steal." Brown followed Barhorst to the bench after the play and tackled him from behind and screamed at the Aggie to give back his towel.
"Both the benches cleared and an all out brawl started," Barhorst said. "Coach Sherrill has told me many times over the last few years that his ultimate goal with the 12th Man Kickoff Team was to connect the student body to the football team." Years after the towel incident, people still name it as their favorite tale of the 12th Man legend.
In a twist of irony, Barhorst was actually not given credit for the play, he said, but he's not the least bitter about it. "It was not my play," Barhorst said. "I play for the 12th Man. But, we must remember," he added, "that without Bonfire, there would be no 12th Man player, no 12th Man Kickoff Team and no tale of Tim Brown's towel."