The Florida Gators football team moved into their new $85M facility this past weekend and I believe it's required to send out fancy videos on social media and then take videos of players taking videos as they enter their new home.
The Gators new playhouse includes zero-gravity reclining chairs, an outdoor basketball court, a 50-foot plunge pool( an absolute must in 2022), not one- but two HydroWorx pools(that makes both of us who have no idea what that is), and soon-to-come barbershop, dining hall and all-important virtual reality room. Heck, I think all of college football and their facilities are virtual reality.
This is not a criticism of Florida. It's just the current state of college football and every program will tell you how important these facilities are.
I do not doubt such palaces play a role in recruiting because who doesn't like shiny toys to play with.
It's funny because for years, former Florida AD Jeremy Foley, believed the facility's arms race was not what made Florida a special place. It was about players and coaches and for years Florida fell behind other SEC programs who didn't enjoy the same on-the-field success. But now Florida's new football home is as good as anyone in the country, until the next new building opens up.
But in a NIL/Pay-for-play era most schools might prefer a portion of the dollars put into facilities shifted to the "collectives" each school has to basically acquire talent. Florida may be one of those schools with deep pocket donors that can build an $85M facility and still come to the table with millions each year to take care of players. But I think we have moved into a different time right now where the barbershop and virtual reality room becomes secondary to the $5M the coach needs to land a top 20 recruiting class. Heck, that figure is likely $20M. Whether all this is sustainable, time will tell.
For now, Florida has a shiny new building and Billy Napier is on a recruiting roll and everything is in place for the Gators to win and win big. Just don't get off to a 1-3 start or Florida fans will wonder where all that money is going towards...
It will happen sooner than later and the only question is who will be the first. What major bowl game will make the change? Who will see the future and become the trend setter? My guess is it will be the Rose Bowl. What will they do? I think they will move their game to the beginning of the season. What? The "Granddaddy of them all"? The Rose Bowl has been played every season since 1942(the 2021 game was played in Arlington because of COVID). The annual matchup of Big Ten vs Pac 12 may be a thing of the past. With the move of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten, the Pac 12's future is up in the air. The league may survive by adding teams or sticking with the remaining 10 but as the SEC and Big Ten move further away from all other leagues, is the matchup as appealing? I hate how traditions are getting tossed away in college football like the empty pizza box at 2am but the business of college football is changing. The Big Ten will feel like the matchup is just not the same. Even the Rose Bowl committee has recognized it needs to evaluate its future. The beauty of the Tournament of Roses Parade may stay a New Year's Day tradition but the football game might have to move to an earlier date on the schedule.
I said last year, and still believe today, that when college football expands its playoff it will be harder for major bowls to exist as they do. Attention, dates, sponsors and TV slots will become a challenge. It's why I have suggested the major bowls shift to celebrating the kickoff of a season. The NFL decided they did not want to play Labor Day weekend and there are no signs that is changing. The NFL has expanded to 17 regular season games and decided to move the Super Bowl later into February and not start the season earlier. College football can and should own the two weeks before the NFL kicks off. By playing at the end of August and that first weekend in September, college football could own the prime TV slots and make a big deal about its biggest matchups to start the year.
I know, schedules are made years and decades in advance, but dollars talk and schedules can be adjusted. The Rose Bowl could kick off a season with a USC or UCLA game against another Big Ten school and use it as its annual start to the season. It could still pit a Big Ten school(maybe the previous year's champion) vs a Pac 12(perhaps their returning champ). The Sugar Bowl could still have an SEC team take on a Big 12 team. The Orange Bowl could have the SEC and ACC square off and on and on. Even our very own Citrus Bowl can still have a Big Ten and SEC matchup. By playing those two weekends, fans can close out their summers by planning to travel since matchups can be made months in advance. Heck, make it a special day for college football by using that bye week before the Super Bowl to announce matchup seven months in advance.
Someone will start the trend and my guess is the Rose Bowl will be first and others will follow and networks get great matchups to start the season. You can still play plenty of bowl games in December that would not conflict with playoff games and that only adds to the celebration of the game during the holidays. Be a trendsetter because my guess is it is inevitable...
Nuggets: John Calipari is right. Kentucky is a basketball school. Football coach Mark Stoops is right that his team plays in the SEC. Calipari is right that he can raise the money to build a new facility by just asking his former players to chip in. The Kentucky AD is wrong to blame the media for creating a story since his basketball coach called members of the media into his hotel room to vent his frustrations...Now Deshaun Watson wants to be sorry?...Will Zalatoris won his first PGA Tour title beating Sepp Straka on the third playoff hole after his tee shot on a par 3 bounced seven times and landed between the rocks and grass off the green while Straka made the mistake of hitting into the water. Zalatoris fired his caddie this past week and his new one picks up over $250k by being on the bag this week. Fernando Tatis Jr. gets an 80-game suspension for using a steroid. Steroids are back!,,,AP College Football Poll comes out today. Just a guess, but Alabama will be number one...Finally, does anyone actually remember their license plate when you have to pay for public parking? No, we all have to walk back to the car and take a picture before walking back and paying for parking.
Final note: In the playoff era, only one preseason number one failed to make the playoff. That was the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes who failed to make the final four.