The University of Florida has been around for a while. Their academic standing and consistent national rankings in NCAA athletics have held them as one of the most widely recognized universities. That’s not to mention their original production of the sports drink “Gatorade”, named after the Florida mascot and developed by University of Florida researchers in 1965 to replenish water, carbohydrates and electrolytes. And, of course, there’s the recent NFL celebrity Tim Tebow, graduated from U of F, leading the gators to a national championship in 2008.
The University of Florida, despite their renown, is actually surprisingly similar to Texas A&M University. In academics, campus size, and enrollment, Texas A&M and the Florida Gators have managed to rank rather closely.
In Academics, U of F is ranked as the 19th best public university by U.S. News and World Report as of 2012. They are ranked 58th overall and considered one of the “Ivy Public” schools, reserved for the top public institutions for higher education across the nation. Texas A&M, coincidentally, was ranked 19th by U.S. News and World Report as of 2011, and placed 58th overall. There’s a strange similarity.
University of Florida had an enrollment size of 49,600 students as of the fall of 2011. Their campus is the 7th largest single campus in the nation. This makes them the second largest university in the SEC. The largest is Texas A&M University. With a 2011 enrollment size of 52,000 students, Texas A&M has the largest enrollment in the SEC. The university is also based upon a single-campus, over 5,000 acres and ranking as the 6th largest in the nation: right above Florida.
Both schools are also founded in similar sized cities. U of F, based in Gainesville, has a total population of 124,000. Texas A&M, based in College Station, has a city population of nearly 100,000 (not including its borderline neighbor, Bryan Texas. Both universities are widely invested in national research programs, and both schools have a rich history of tradition.
Florida was founded in 1853 as a public land grant, sea grant, and space grant research university. The campus moved to its current location in Gainesville in 1906. Texas A&M University was founded in 1876 as a land, sea, and space grant university for a broad range of research institutions. A&M’s campus has not moved since its founding.
There is one area where the universities do differ, however: football.
It is true that Florida’s football team has a history of winning that manages to overshadow the Aggies. With three BCS national championships, eight Southeastern Conference championships, and attended nearly forty BCS bowl games. Their most recent national title, led by Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow, was in 2008. Before that they won in 2006. Texas A&M, however, has it’s only national title from the year of 1939 (though three other polls records show separate national titles in three other years) and a single Big 12 Conference Championship title. University of Florida also has three Heisman winners, compared to Texas A&M’s lone winner of 1957, John David Crow.
Even within their football context, however, the two present a striking resemblance. Their stadium’s and student fans, for instance, are practically mirror images.
The University of Florida’s football stadium, also known as “The Swamp”, was originally constructed in 1930 and can currently house over 90,000 fans at once. It is the 11th largest college football stadium as measured, but has been ranked the loudest and most intimidating stadium for home football games among collegiate universities.
Texas A&M’s football stadium, Kyle Field, is also one of the largest in the nation. Built in 1927, it has been known to hold more than 90,000 fans, officially ranked as the 13th largest in the nation (whoop!). Multiple different rankings have put Kyle field consistently in the top 10 regarding intimidation and loudness, though many rank them as the number one collegiate stadium overall (as far as atmosphere, intimidation, and noise level goes).
The Texas A&M Aggies will be playing the Florida Gators at Kyle Field on September 8th, 2012: the Aggies second game of their first season in the SEC. It will be interesting to see how the Gators hold up in an equally intimidating stadium. Kyle Field is anticipated to give them a little taste of their own medicine. The game will be nationally broadcasted on ESPN (one of most of A&M’s televised events this upcoming year).
Susan Hilton (College Station and Bryan’s Real Estate Specialist)