So, Kentucky went ahead without anyone's blessings or approval and changed college basketball recruiting forever earlier this month by building the "Wildcat Coal Lodge" which will now serve as the "dormitory for UK’s men’s basketball team."
As if they didn't already have the upper hand by having recruits meet Coach Cal directly under the 2012 National Championship banner and be constantly reminded of the incredible NBA draft record UK has had in recent years, they just had to go ahead and build themselves a little basketball frat house didn't they?
Don't worry you whistle blowing, SEC-haters, the dorm will also host "other UK students" to keep from any NCAA violations for having players accepting any extra hand outs not readily available to the average student.
If you don't have enough time to watch the eight minute video attached above, here are the highlights:
-The Wildcat Coal Lodge will be stationed directly across from the practice facility/weight room/training room and all players will have access to it, day or night (not sure about the "other" students though). It also seems to be near the academic support building for those keeping score at home.
-The new dorm has an office assistant/"Aunt" that looks after everybody (again, not sure if that includes the "other" students). Her name is Betsy and she does have all the security codes.
-Not only is the Wildcat Coal Lodge the new home of the National Championship trophies, it also houses a very sentimental plaque dedicated to Kentucky's coal industry, which apparently has a lot more to do with a basketball team than one would think because if a coal miner has to pee, all the coal miners pee together...or something like that.
-Every floor will contain a television that will show player meeting and practice times among other things (no mention of "other" students' schedules being placed on televisions).
-There are pictures, posters, plaques and graphics of Kentucky basketball players (past and present), achievements and team sayings on every noticeable wall. You know, just in case the team ever forgets who they played for, who played there before them and whatever cliche Coach Cal yells a million times over a season.
-There are plenty of recliners in the lounge area, apparently because that's a particular need for student athletes these days.
-If players get hungry or thirsty after one of their buffet meals (which is personally cooked by Head Chef and king of the fist pound, Chris Cain), they have a 24-hour refrigerator stocked full of beverages for the taking as well as a wide variety of "bagels and some nuts."
-There is storage for the rooms that I'm guessing they aren't paying for.
-Outside of each room, there will be a name plate and a picture of the individual tenant (no word if this a dorm-wide thing or not).
-Coach Cal has in his hand a universal key card letting him enter all rooms. Not sure if it is his or Betsy's. Either way, kind of scary for the smooth operators of Blue Nation.
-Each player gets his own room that connects with another via full bathroom. Oh, and each suite is built for a seven footer. God bless those 5'6" band majors that get placed into Wildcat Coal Lodge.
-The desks are adjustable depending on individual size and preference.
This is now, just as Coach Cal said, the new "gold standard" for incoming recruits. Who wants to stay in the basement pits of dorm room hell when you can stay in the luxury suites of Lexington, equipped with your own personal chef?
Nobody with a 5-star rating and half a brain, that's who.
So what does this have to do with Iowa?
Well, Iowa just so happens to be building a brand new dorm right across from Hillcrest, the current location for most student-athletes during their freshman year on campus. What better time than now to rethink a couple of the master plans.
Here's my purposal:
Take the top floor of the new building and do exactly what Kentucky did for their basketball team.
I'm talking Pent House suites overlooking all of Iowa City. I'm talking recliners, billiards tables, 3D televisions, TWO personal chefs and virtual name/face plates outside of every room. It'll be like Harry Potter but instead of digital key cards to get into your room, you need a password that only you know.
Lets spread a little White Magic to the potential recruits.
Fine, maybe I went overboard. Two personal chefs is a little greedy, anyway.
But in all seriousness, this is (unfortunately) how you get the best recruits in today's NCAA to even look at your program. It's the simple things like run an AAU style-offense while getting to know their travel coaches on a personal level. Let them all have regulated Twitter accounts. Put them in sexy uniforms a few times a year. Bring back the NBA alumni as often as possible. Update your facilities (CHECK!). Give them loads of free Nike gear. Pay for their schooling. Be consistent winners.
And now, give them Manhattan style bachelor pads.
Tell me how this wouldn't work. Either redesign the top floor, or if you want to make things difficult, go talk to a donor or two, get some more funding and add another floor.
How hard could it be, really?
You mean to tell a few Iowa alumnus out there wouldn't be ecstatic donating a miniature ransom for a state of the art basketball dorm? All you would have to realistically do is show them Iowa's win totals under Fran McCaffery, the potential (and current) recruits interested in the program, the MTV Cribs "College Dorm Room Edition" that Kentucky has and name the floor after an old Hawkeye.
Perhaps The Don Nelson Suites. The Nelson Hawkeye Hideaway. The Nelson-Armstrong Auberge. The Nelson Chalet.
So many options!
What recruit wouldn't look at the Nelson-Armstrong Auberge and not commit on the spot?
Maybe when it all comes down to it, I'm just a lowly Iowa basketball fan with big dreams of becoming a national presence. But can you blame me? Recruiting basketball players isn't like recruiting football players. Their final commitment hinges on a combination of a few easy things.
Will the program provide them with individual exposure? Do they have up-to-date facilities? Do they have a solid NBA pipeline? Do they have a mindful-fiery-players' coach? And now, do they have recliners, personal chefs and billiards tables in their living spaces?
Individual exposure is easy. Create an individual poster of each one of your players doing something that would resemble And-1 Mixtape tour moves then turn it into an EA Sports video game cover. Pass them out to fans during every Big Ten home game and tweet each picture out with hashtags like, #POY, #Naismith or #Rise&Fire. Those would be all over the internet in minutes.
Iowa already has up-to-date facilities and a solid NBA pipeline considering B.J. Armstrong played with the NBA's G.O.A.T. and is Derrick Rose's family friend and agent. Then there is Mr. Nelson, Ryan Bowen, John Johnson, Fred Brown and Ricky Davis to round out a pretty solid list.
JK on the Ricky Davis thing.
Mindful-fiery-players' coach? Welcome to the Franimal House gentlemen.
All we need are dorms that look like an Apple experiment with tons and tons and tons of recliners!
I realize this is a pipe dream for Iowa. But that's not to say more college programs won't follow suit in the near future. I wouldn't be surprised if programs like North Carolina, Kansas and UCONN aren't already at the drawing boards.
Make it happen Iowa, while you still have time.
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