Texas A&M billboard adds to rivalry week for Gators and Aggies
UPDATE: The billboard has been removed by its owner Clear Channel after Texas A&M officials sent a cease-and-desist letter from Texas A&M officials alleging trademark infringement.
A billboard erected at the corner of NW 13th street and NW 53rd Avenue in Gainesville is drawing lots of attention in Gator Country - and not necessarily in a good way.
The billboard (seen below) appears to be an attempt by Texas A&M fans to make nice with the Gators and starts off friendly enough with a "Howdy Gainesville." But from there, it seems to take a bad turn - including a shot at the league Texas A&M has spent the past six months claiming to be so thrilled to join.
It reads: “You've been annexed by Aggie Nation. The Best Academics & Cleanest Program in the SEC. WHOOP! Real Football. Real Tradition.”
Texas A&M has distanced itself from any impending controversy, saying the university had nothing to do with it.
"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,'' the university 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."
As for the Gators, they are taking it all in stride. OL James Wilson said he had been "de-briefed" about the billboard before he came to player interviews on Tuesday, but didn't seem bothered by it.
Safety Josh Evans said he's seen it but he's got more important things on his mind - like Saturday's game at Texas A&M.
"I really didn’t pay attention to it," Evans said. "I saw it but my mind ain’t on that. I’m about winning this game."
Welcome to new rivalry week.
[PHOTO: Antonya English]