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IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME

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IN WHICH I RAID YOUR STUDENT FEES FOR ILL-ADVISED CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS, THEN FLEE TO THAILAND

Mike Ehrmann

College football programs are constantly competing in a range of different arms races. Television deals. Uniform upgrades. Recruiting battles. Snack battles.

One could argue none of these battles is more pitched than the bricks-and-mortar war, the centuries-old struggle to have the biggest and best stadium in the land.

Among the major college football programs in the midst of serious stadium renovations right now, we have LSU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Cincinnati (SHUT UP WE ARE TOO MAJOR), Notre Dame, Mizzou and others. Billions of dollars are being pumped into bragging rights and club seats.

Well, as an actual, real-life architect myself, I'm not just going to sit idly by and watch your student fees and alumni funds get raided for vanity projects without getting my hand in that pot too.  I won't even carry a pretense of scruples.  I'll build any of these for you.  I don't care.  A professional license is like your virginity: if you didn't lose it, why'd you bother having it?

Here's just a sampling of the Modest Proposals I have for you and your schools.

RUTGERS

Rutgers is making a big leap this year, having risen from the ashes of the former Big East to a plum spot in the financial and cultural powerhouse that is the Big Ten.  Some among us might criticize, laugh, sneer.  What business does a historically middling program from New Jersey have playing with Ohio State and Michigan each year?  (First we say: Explain Indiana).  And second, we say: embrace your birthright.  As you may well know, Rutgers claims to be the host of the first college football game ever played, a 6-4 win over Princeton in 1869.  According to Wikipedia, "The Princeton/Rutgers game was undoubtedly different from what we today know as American football, as there was no running with the ball, each team included 25 players, and the ball was perfectly spherical." It's a questionable claim, but if you're going to be in the Big Ten, you're not here to equivocate about the things you've decided make you great.  We say? Steer in.  Claim the birth of recreational sport itself.  Step into: the Football Creation Museum.

Cornelius Springsteen Rutgers valiantly battles an opponent

Having been bested by Rutgers in this formative contest, the velociraptor left New Jersey in disgrace and later founded Penn State.

GEORGIA TECH

Realtor:  "What would you say you're looking for in a new home?"

Georgia Tech: "Well, we've been living in the city for a long time.  It's been great, being so close to all the culture and activity.  But as much as we love living in a historic stadium, we're finding it cramping our lifestyle as we start to think about settling down.  We want a nice big yard where we know our kids can run and a play esoteric, occasionally successful offense safely.  And we like to entertain!  Sometimes we'll have 40,000 Bulldogs come stay with us."

Realtor:  "I think I know just the place.  It's a planned community, just 30 minutes outside of town."

Georgia Tech: "Oh, and the locker room has to have double sinks.


Realtor: "Ramblin' Acres has everything a young football family could ask for.  Large, open floor plans, granite countertops, ample closet space, three-car garages in each suite, all with convenient access to I-75!  You know, there's even plans to extend the MARTA out here soon.  You should buy now before prices go up."

MIAMI

Miami, we get it.  Sun Life Stadium is old, and it's nowhere near campus.  The Orange Bowl was great, but now it's the site of [checks Wikipedia] uhh a marlin park?  Is that a fish hatchery?  Doesn't matter.  You're known as a hip, international town, mister -- worldwide!  You like to have a real good time.  You want to be there yelling when it's going down, and it's not going to be a night you won't remember at some dowdy old stadium in Miami Gardens.  We have a solution.  Take to the seas.

[Robin Leach voice]

Yes, on our one-of-a-kind stadium cruise liner, you'll set sail for exotic ports of call like: Boca Raton!  Miami Beach!  Nassau!  St. Petersburg!  Mobile!  ...wherever your dreams and a 7-5 record can take you! You'll dine at fine restaurants, relax beside one of our sixteen glamorous pools, gamble in our on-board casino, and float carefree into international waters, beyond the reach of meddling NCAA investigators.  If you want your football dreams to be only tangentially related to football, then it's all about The U Boat.

The U...  exciting and new
Come aboard, we're expecting you
[redacted], life's sweetest reward
Let it flow, it's all about The U
The U Boat soon will be making another run
The U Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure, Your mind on the Russell Athletic Bowl

[an alarm sounds]

"What’s that noise?"

[looks over side] "They’re not here to fish."

[bridge of the ship]

Al Golden: "Who…who are you?"

Bud Elliott: "Look at me."

Al: "Sure."

Bud: "Look at me."

Al: "Sure."

Bud: "I'm the captain now."


STANFORD

[strides on stage in a turtleneck and headset microphone]

What we've accomplished here is a disruptive new medium in the way one engages with the college football content.  It's personal, it's wearable, it’s you-namic.  It places the individual both on the field and in the stands, while simultaneously ingrained with their day-to-day lifestyle.  It's college football at your fingertips.  Is it the Stadium Killer?  Or is it the Stadium Savior? [raucous applause]

We bring you...  the Content Farm.

50,000 individually-controlled GoPro cameras, linked directly to your mobile and wearable devices.  No need to struggle anymore with gameday traffic, restroom lines and the scourge of human contact!

[a push notification pings while you're in line for artisanal toast in Oakland]

"Hmm, interesting.  Glass, give me fan view."

"Hmm, interesting."

L’ECOLE TECHNOLOGIQUE D’ LAFAYETTE-OUEST

"Escuse no who ees thees Purdue you speak of? No monsieur we are exchange school from Belgium. Oui, Bruges, I know not of thees ehhh, how you say 'football' sorry"

NORTH DAKOTA STATE

Let me preface this by saying, lest my tone or intentions on this one be misinterpreted, that I do this only out of respect. I live in New York, but rest assured I carry the requisite fear of quiet people from cold, wide-open states. Ja Rule once 'sang' "I got a hundred guns, a hundred clips, I'm from New York."

Right, Ja, but you're wearing an open dress shirt and there’s like, a thousand people around.  I could just duck into a deli and call for help. North Dakota's got one dude with a rifle he learned to shoot before he could walk and I have only endless frozen plain to run terrified across while he lights a cigarette and steadies his aim. I come in peace, my Bison friends, and I'm sorry I just now mispronounced Bison. This is print, but trust me, I did.

Why a new stadium?  The Fargodome is great. It's an angry little box of ice bees playing lights-out football in a deafening rec room. In the view of conference commissioners, though, it's too small. (Heinz Field holds 65,000, and tell me where you'd rather be a visiting team, but still).

No, today we're building big. Big and mean and metal. Open to the freaky northern sky. Blue turf? That's a great gimmick if you’re in Idaho and it’s 1986.  Playing on a frozen lake? That's a home field advantage. But it'll be cold, you say! Really? Your whole state’s just a pile of free heating gas. Light up the night. Come with me, into A Stadium Of Fire and Ice.

Wolves on the field?  Wolves on the field.  Own it, North Dakota.  You're from a barren wasteland that's scary as hell, and if anything qualifies you to play at the top levels of college football, it's that. Besides, I'd much rather go there than Norman.

TEXAS

Everyone’s trying to build bigger and bigger these days. Time was, bein' over a hunnert thou meant something, but now we got Louisianans and their dang cousins claimin' they're the biggest game in town.

[spits, leans on fencepost]

Son, ain't no game bigger than Texas football.  Cain't be.

You know what else the good lord gave Texas, though?  Ex-clu-siv-ity.  Hell, anyone can be a Volunteer.  Right there in the dang name.  Takes a special kind to be a Longhorn.  Our boosters know that, and they want to see it reflected in how we do business.  We ain't out here to be in some pissin' contest with no Nittany dang Lion, whatever the heck that is.  Gosh, no.  So I got a plan befittin’ Texas.

Was washin' some South by Southwest punks off my lawn this spring, and I heard them talkin' bout this hip-hop group the Whoop-Dang Clan or somethin' like that says they're only gonna sell one record.  And boy don't you know, that sounds just right for what we're lookin' to do here.

We're gonna sell just one ticket.  Best football fan in the heart of Texas is gonna get themselves an exclusive seat to watch the best dang team in the nation play under a big Texas sky.

Gosh, wouldn't you look at that.  It's beautiful.  The stars and the moon and the gosh-darn Texas Longhorns.

"Uh, sir...  that's no moon."

"... it's a hate station."

OH Y'ALL AIN'T THINK THIS IS A COMPETITION, HUH?  YOU THINK YOU CAN WALK AWAY FROM A WAR JUST 'CAUSE Y'ALL LOSIN'?  THAT AIN'T HOW WE PLAY THIS GAME, BEVO.  YOU THOUGHT WE WEREN'T GONNA FIND YOU?  SHOW 'EM WHAT WE GOT, COACH.

"YESSIR."

WHOOOOO BOY, WE JUST GETTIN' STARTED, BOSS.  ALDERAAN AIN'T PLAYED NOBODY.  YOU THOUGHT WE WERE STOPPIN' AT EXPANDIN' KYLE FIELD?  KYLE FIELD'S A DANG ENTRANCE GATE NOW.  HOP YOUR BUTTS ON ONE OF THEM CHINOOK YELLACOPTERS AND COME ON UP.

WE GOT THE ULTIMATE IN WORLD-DESTROYIN' COMFORT UP HERE.  EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND SEATS.  A BRISKET PIT THE SIZE OF LUBBOCK.  AND A GOT-DANG MEGAPHONE THAT'LL BEAM OUR YELLS INTO SPACE.  IF THERE'S ANY LIFE OUT THERE, THEY'RE GONNA KNOW REAL SOON TO MIND THEIR OWN DANG BUSINESS.  DON’T EVER GET IN A BUILDIN’ WAR WITH AN AGGIE. YOU HEAR ME, BAMA? YER NEXT.