This is Gator Country

I don’t want to talk about the billboard that showed up in Gainesville proclaiming the home of the University of Florida had been annexed by Aggie Nation. I don’t care much about the billboards along Highway 6 between Houston and College Station, Texas, that told me I was in SEC country.

Those signs were both wrong. Texas A&M is Gator Country. We stormed the field after the game to prove it.

My verdict is still out on whether or not expanding the Southeastern Conference to include Texas A&M and Missouri — colleges in states that could hardly be considered Southern — is a good idea. My verdict is just as hazy as my understanding of how good or bad the Florida Fighting Football Gators are this year.

On Saturday, they were better than the Fighting Football Aggies of Texas A&M. That was good enough for me.

Not that I hate these Texans who root for their team dressed in a maroon that is a little too close to the Mississippi State home color. I want to, but they’re too nice.

It’s a kind of nice that is hard to pinpoint. South Carolina folk are nice to you because they have a nonsensical superiority complex. Midwestern natives are nice to you because they have an inferiority complex. We Floridians aren’t nice at all, but our stormy disposition is certainly affected by the Yankee undertones and the mean old men who move to my state to wait for death.

Texas A&M nice isn’t any of these. It’s as if they’re nice because their parents told them to be. It’s rather darling, actually.

I suspect they still follow their parents’ orders because they haven’t been punched out by a bunch of bullies yet. Give them a few years of thrashings from LSU, Alabama and Georgia, and we’ll see how nice they are.

Then again, maybe this is an Aggie thing that won’t fade away. The campus is an hour from nowhere and 2 hours from Houston. No one goes through College Station on accident, a fan told me. Kyle Field has the largest student section in the country, and the alumni side is actually filled with alumni.

That’s not the case at a lot of SEC schools, where college football teams represent a lot more than the college. Did I mention I didn’t go to Florida?

Maybe if the stadiums at Alabama or Florida or Tennessee were all filled with college-educated fans, the atmosphere within the SEC would be a little nicer.

But what fun would that be?

A few notes about Houston

  • Brisket is overrated. Sure, it’s tasty, but it could hardly stand up to a well-cooked pork shoulder. Here’s all you need to know about barbecue: Southerners use the best part of the pig, while Texans use the worst part of the cow.
  • If you make it to Houston, find Warren’s Inn and have Alli make you a drink. Warren’s is the oldest bar in Houston, and it’s a dive. But it’s perfect. The bartenders make drinks that haven’t been made in 50 years, and the music on the jukebox is just as ancient. What more could you ask for?
  • I know two facts about the Astrodome: It’s still standing, and you can’t take a tour of it. The first American dome hasn’t hosted a game in a decade, but it stands decaying in the shadow of the NFL Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium. What on earth is hiding in there?
  • Light rail is fantastic.
  • Vic and Anthony’s makes the best steak I’ve ever had, and it’s not close. Just have someone else pick up the bill.
  • While the barbecue is overrated, the Tex-Mex is as good as advertised.
  • Under no circumstances should you ever go to Dirt Bar. Dirt Bar falls under my rule concerning Meth — not even once.