5 from SEC included in top 10 college towns for 2013


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:

Gainesville, FL

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

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.

Lexington, KY

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.

Fayetteville, AR

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



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  • Believe it! Surprised Tallahassee wasn’t included….no I’m not.

    • Gainesville belongs nowhere near this list. I’ve never been to Tallahassee but I’m sure its not far behind G’ville.

      • agree 100% and since we usually rank in top 10 of most polls were about facts like job growth, housing market, careers, etc, take it with a grain of salt…after all …this is a COACHES poll and how many coaches have you heard say love to play with the loud fans in Neyland Stadium? they usually hate it because we are so loud!

        • I dont think the coaches or players care about how loud the fans are. They love playing there because Tennessee sucks

      • I hate the entire state of Florida with a passion, but I’d rather find myself in G-Ville than K-ville anyday. The place is a dump, and Neyland Stadium looks like a giant toilet.

  • Struggling to figure out how Oxford isn’t in that list…

  • Obviously they’ve never been to Knoxville.

    • Knoxville is top 5 worst cities in the SEC. Ive planned football roadtrips and your town just downright sucks. Athens, Oxford, Gainesville.. those are college towns.

    • The reason K-ville is not there is because of crap like what happened to me. I went to the stadium 4 hours early. I found a cherry parking spot on the street-free parking. A local cop happened to be driving by. He stopped and told me I couldn’t park there. I asked why he told me because he said so. I said I can park on a public street, with 30 other cars, without fear of him. He then told me to move it or lose it. I moved and paid $30 for tard parking. I say it was because I had my Alabama tag on my car and Bama all over it. I spoke with others who said very similar things. Last time I went to K-ville.

  • Athens was named the best college town in the nation by a little known publication, the New York Times…but what does the NYT know about anything. Livability is obviously the most respected and most thoroughly read publication out there today so I’ll take their opinion over NYT’s.

  • I don’t know what their criteria was for this list and, frankly, I don’t give a damn. Iowa City? MISSOULA, MONTANA????!! There’s no point in arguing about the order in which the SEC college towns are ranked because this list has ZERO credibility.

    • Hey – what you have against Iowa City?

      • What do I have against it? It’s in friggin’ Iowa. Anyway, my mocking of those cities is only in good fun. I’ve never been to those cities, so I can’t seriously say how fun they are compared to Athens, Gainesville, Knoxville, etc (places I have been)

    • I know it’s hard to believe, but Iowa City is a helluva town. And this is coming from a Missouri guy who was born to mock Iowegians.

  • As a conference newbie (Mizzou guy), I’ve yet to make the trip to any of the other college towns in the SEC except Nashville, which didn’t exactly have the college vibe. With that in mind, I don’t have a lot to say about whether Columbia deserves to be ahead of Athens, Oxford, etc. However, I do hope lists like this convince fans from some of the other schools to make the trip for a road game at Mizzou. Don’t let the strip malls near the Interstate fool you; Downtown Columbia and the area south of that through campus to the stadium has a ton of character. If a Southern guy like Wright Thompson can fall in love with the place, you guys will like it too.

  • Gainsville is the pitts. Great town if you are a student, terrible if you are not. Not a Clempson or Georgia fan, but hard to believe Clemson and Athens aren’t on this list.

  • Lexington Kentucky is one of the best places to watch a football game. The fans are the most welcoming. There is something going on on every street corner around the stadium. You will be invited to try there food and beer/liquor. Being a Bama fan I say this is the number one place to me. I have never seen a fight at their games. I can’t say the same about all the other SEC stadiums I been too. Which is all of them except A&M and MZ. Florida, Auburn then LSWho are the worst for fighting and BS fans. I have a chance to see Bama and Auburn this year. I will not go unless I am promised a lot. It is not worth all the crap.

    • Can’t argue with the Florida and LSU statement because both of those are pretty hostile. But the Auburn one isn’t true at all. Some of the nicest fans in the SEC. But I wouldn’t expect a bama fan to give them any credit

  • Surprised Bambi fans aren’t saying their #1.

  • CoMo! Seriously though guys, you want a good road trip, follow your team north to Missouri.

  • When I moved to Columbia, MO, for graduate school, I immediately fell in love with this town. Its a great place to live and has regularly been touted as one of the hardest working cities, best places for careers and business, most educated, etc.


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