The billboard that has popped up in Gainesville, Florida, claiming that the home of the Florida Gators has been "annexed" by Aggie Nation is not the result of anything that Texas A&M University did or approved. In fact, A&M is "investigating aggressively," according to a university spokesman.
If it turns out that Texas was behind this, though, it's pretty darned clever.
Texas A&M Didn't Commission Billboard
"This billboard was not placed by Texas A&M University, and it is certainly not reflective of how we have handled our transition into the SEC," A&M spokesman Jason Cook said in a statement.
"We are investigating aggressively, as we believe that our institutional trademarks have been infringed upon. Texas A&M has tremendous respect for the University of Florida, and we look forward to hosting the Gators in our first SEC football game this weekend."
The billboard, which stands a little less than five miles away from Florida's campus, reads: "You've been annexed by Aggie Nation. The Best Academics & Cleanest Program in the SEC. WHOOP! Real Football. Real Tradition."
The Same Old Tired Characterizations of Aggies
SEC fans who are still looking for a reason--any reason--to hate Texas A&M's arrival in the conference are, naturally, jumping all over this billboard as a sign of Aggies' "arrogance."
Graham Watson of Yahoo! Sports began her column on the billboard with this sentence: "Texas A&M hasn't even played a game yet in the SEC and they've already become the league [sic] most obnoxious team."
Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report takes a similar approach: "If there's one thing that we know about Texas A&M, it's that the Aggies are a prideful bunch. There's pride, and then there's arrogance. A new billboard on a busy intersection in Gainesville is the latter."
And it goes on and on and on and on.
Quickly lost or overlooked in all of this, however, is that Texas A&M University wasn't involved. That doesn't seem to matter to many, however, who simply prefer to use that same old tired characterizations of the Aggies joining the SEC.
It's just easier that way, I suppose. Doesn't require any thought.
No Hallmarks of A&M Advertising
It's immediately obvious to me that my alma mater is not behind this billboard. The language that is both used and not used in the sign should be a dead giveaway to Aggies everywhere. We know which phrases are commonly used in Aggie advertising and which phrases aren't.
There are no graphics on the billboard in Gainesville, either. You'll notice a picture of an Aggie football player in Kyle Field next to the Texas A&M and SEC logos on the billboard that A&M did put in Austin in August. Aggies like pictures. (Insert joke of your choice about Aggies being incapable of reading.)
And while we all enjoy telling Aggie jokes about ourselves, no one from Aggieland can possibly say with a straight face that we have "The Best Academics & Cleanest Program in the SEC." Not with Vanderbilt in the conference and not with Jackie Sherrill as one of our former head coaches.
No, this billboard came from outside of College Station. Maybe it's a bunch of Longhorns from Texas who were chapped about the SEC billboard in their back yard. If the Longhorns are behind this, I'm kind of impressed. Clever payback, 'Horns, getting the Gators all riled up just before the game so that we get utterly destroyed in our SEC debut and home opener! Well played!
Maybe it's a bunch of Gators fans hazing the new guy in the conference. Not very original or impressive for a "Welcome to the SEC" ritual, but if that's the best that the Gators can do, then we'll have some stuff to teach them over the coming years.
It wouldn't surprise me if it's ESPN, trying to build up a rivalry where there is none for their College GameDay broadcast in College Station this weekend. The most important part of an investigation is to rule nothing out, and I don't put anything past ESPN. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Lee Corso, and that Gator head you'll be donning on Saturday.
Maybe it's an Aggie fan with more dollars than sense. Who knows? Wouldn't be the first time that's happened.
It's not the university, though, so save the tired "obnoxious" and "arrogant" labels for someone else instead of blindly blanketing the entire institution and its alumni with your third-grade-level name-calling.
It's obnoxiously arrogant, you big jerks. I'm telling mom.
- Sports & Recreation
- Florida Gators