GAINESVILLE – To join the SEC, Texas A&M had to say goodbye to its natural rivals and look to make some new ones.
The Aggies have not wasted any time picking a fight in the heart of Gator Nation.
A billboard message stating Gainesville has been “annexed by the Aggie Nation” made waves in town on Tuesday and had the potential to create a rift between the SEC’s newest members and one of the league’s old guard.
Texas A&M officials said the school did not authorize the sign, but Florida fans might not be sticklers for details when a billboard on their home turf states another school boasts, “The Best Academics and Cleanest Program in the SEC.”
And for emphasis the sentence ends with a Texas-sized, “WHOOP!,” followed by the words “Real Football. Real Tradition.”
The reaction of Gators players ranged from cautiousness to cluelessness about the billboard.
Senior guard James Wilson said he was “de-briefed” about it before meeting with members of the media on Tuesday.
“I have no idea,” he said. “What does the billboard say?”
Meanwhile, junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins said he knew nothing about it – and did not seem to care.
Senior safety Josh Evans said he had seen the sign because friend had sent him a photo of it. But he laughed it off, saying he had more important things to focus on.
“I saw it, but my mind ain’t on that,” he said. “It’s about winning this game.”