By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. -- On July 1, 2012 it all becomes official. The Southeastern Conference will enter two new states, as the University of Missouri and Texas A&M University will expand the league's footprint further across the southeast. This is an exciting time for the current fans of the SEC and for the conference's incoming group, and that energy is easy to feel as the days come closer for both schools to join.
Not only is it easy to feel, but it has become easy to see. In the past few months, billboards, logos and other SEC related designs have popped up everywhere. From Jacksonville, Florida to Dallas, Texas, Missouri and Texas A&M fans are not only eager to join the conference, but also eager to show their pride for being a part of the league. Again, very cool to experience, and in this case see.
I myself have come across these signs of excitement, having driven past billboards in Birmingham, (where the SEC offices are located) and Duluth, Georgia (home of the 2012 Gymnastics Championship) proclaiming Missouri's "pride" in entering the SEC. In addition to the visual aides, I have talked with countless Aggie and Tigers fans through the league's social media platforms, learning about the traditions of the two schools and even getting several invitations to be my tour guides should I ever make the trip.
So, an idea was born. Through Twitter, I encouraged the legions of Texas A&M and Missouri fans to show me everything they'd seen during their travels. The response was immediate and immense, as within minutes I had pictures coming in from College Station to Paris, France. It appears as if the SEC has gone global.
With that said, below is a collection of photos, sent in by fans, as they take pride in seeing their schools become a part of the SEC family.
The Transition Has Begun
Over at the football practice fields in College Station, Texas, the changes are already being made. In this picture, posted by Aggie Athletics on Facebook, you can see the SEC logo draped along the wall cover.
A New Helmet Sticker
The transformation is more than just competing in the SEC, but it is incorporating the SEC into the entire "fabric" of the athletics program. In this picture, tweeted out by the Missouri football team (@MizzouFootball), you can see the SEC logo now prominent on the Missouri helmet.
Speaking of "fabric", the Texas A&M folks have already taken to adding the SEC to their football practice jersey. In this photo, courtesy of the Texas A&M equipment department, you can see the familiar conference logo stitched in the Texas A&M frame.
The Missouri Visual
One of the biggest campaigns Missouri has done to introduce themselves to SEC fans is spread billboards across the southeast. A version of this "pride" billboard has appeared in cities such as St. Louis, Birmingham, and Atlanta. In the photo below, sent in via instagram by Erica Bennett, you can see the billboard in Jacksonville, Florida. The palm trees are a nice touch aren't they?
Texas A&M In Houston
Texas A&M has done the same as Missouri, putting up billboards in nearby Houston promoting the Aggies move to the SEC. Sent to me by Aggie Marketing Director Diane C. McDonald, this will go up soon in the areas I mentioned.
Fans have also taken to showing their support of the SEC, as evidenced in this picture. As Adam Crutchfield commented to me upon sending this in, he hopes his SEC "speed" isn't taken literally as he drives.
A New Era
Again, moving to the SEC requires a lot of changes, and can take some time to complete. In another special from the Texas A&M Equipment crew, here's a shot of them installing the SEC logo in the football locker room. The dawn of a new era indeed.
A Pro SEC Crowd
Although they aren't officially in the Southeastern Conference for a few more months, crowds from both Missouri and Texas A&M have already taken to showing their SEC pride at sporting events. In this picture taken by Jamie Squire of Getty Images (sent to us by @MUTigersLair) you can see a group of Tigers fans repping the conference.
A New Aggie Logo
One of the cooler ideas I saw sent to me were a collection of new logos, prominently featuring the connections between the school and the SEC. This one, tweeted in by @RoelDA, combines the Aggie logo with the SEC mark for a pretty cool looking image.
Anything You Can Do...
Not to be outdone, Missouri fans have created several different combinations of the SEC and Tiger logo. In this collection below, sent in by Chad Bass and Kathryn Lucchesi, you can see the variations they've created in the time since the move was announced.
Gig'em In France?
In the last of our photo gallery today, I saved what I thought was the most interesting picture I got. We talk about where the SEC's home is, and often you don't think of seeing the conference represented across the pond. But, in this cool shot sent by James C. on Twitter, apparently you can rep the SEC at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. How do you say "SEC" in French?
The #Mizzou Wall
I got a late submission and request to add this, and when you see the photo you'll see why I did. Tweeted to me by @Mizzou2SEC, the new Tiger/SEC logo I showed earlier is now featured on a wall of the Tiger athletic complex. As you can see, it looks pretty sharp in its new digs.