Down south, college football is life. We eat it; sleep it; we breathe it. And so do the SEC’s college towns.
From Gainesville to Oxford and Tuscaloosa to College Station, life in the SEC is beautiful.
Yesterday, we saw the SEC land five teams in the top 10 of the new USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The SEC also secured five in Livability’s ranking of the top 10 college towns for 2013. Florida, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas A&M all made the top 10.
Related: Best SEC cities for sports fans
1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Gainesville, Florida
4. Columbia, Missouri
5. Lexington, Kentucky
6. Iowa City, Iowa
7. Missoula, Montana
8. Madison, Wisconsin
9. Fayetteville, Arkansas
10. College Station, Texas
Related: 10 SEC fan bases in this top 25
Here’s a snippet from Livability about each SEC college town:
There’s a lot to celebrate about living in Gainesville, FL. Maybe that’s why the University of Florida consistently ranks as one of the top party schools in the nation. Residents and students enjoy a near tropical climate, thriving business climate, vast entertainment options, highly competitive sports teams and pristine natural areas. It’s good to be in Gator Country.
Columbia, MO, owes its rapid growth largely to the same rate of growth for the University of Missouri. As the school’s enrollment increased by more than 30 percent, so did the city’s population between 2000 and 2010. More students led to more restaurants, more rental housing, more teachers and eventually more jobs. But city leaders and residents haven’t let growth homogenize their community, which retains an artsy vibe that is equal parts to college quirk, Midwestern culture and progressive innovation.
Strengthening the already tight bond between Lexington, KY, and the University of Kentucky, state and city officials recently announced the decision to use Rupp Arena (home court of UK’s basketball teams) as the focal point of plans to reinvent downtown by creating a new arts and entertainment district. The university continues to be the driving economic force in Lexington, where residents enjoy an eclectic mix of shops, Southern-style cooking and rolling hills graced with thoroughbreds.
An old law in Fayetteville, AR, prohibits dogs from barking after 6 p.m., but it doesn’t say anything about hog calling. In fact, yelling out “woo pig sooie” isn’t just tolerated in this funky college town, it’s encouraged. Many residents of this Southeastern city cheer on Tusk the Razorback, the official mascot of the University of Arkansas. The Razorbacks’ reach can be felt throughout the city, from its medical center and performing arts events to the research assistance students and professors provided to local companies.
College Station, TX
Few cities are as tied to a university as College Station, TX, is to Texas A&M. Where many colleges came to an established city, College Station was built around the university. Most College Station residents can attribute their jobs, entertainment options, and quality of life in some form or fashion to A&M, which has become a preeminent place for research. The city provides residents with excellent schools, recreational outlets, entertainment options and more diversity than many would expect to find in central Texas.
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports