Constructing the Ideal College Football Program
Last week, Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer, months after first disappearing into his mom's basement laboratory, emerged with a scientifically-engineered college quarterback.
(Sadly, it was not the Tommy Rees/B.J. Daniels/Stephen Garcia ManBearPig that was promised.)
In essence, this is the expanded, less science-y version of that: constructing the ideal college football program.
Here, we dive into what makes a college football program so unique: the stadium, the tailgating, the tradition and lore, the fight song and everything in between. The only rule is that there are no rules. All-time rosters and coaches are eligible. This stadium doesn't have to mesh with that college town.
So what does B/R's ideal college football program look like? It's a combination of greatness spelled out in the following slides.
Home State/Primary Recruiting Ground: Florida
First, let's get to 'crootin'. For this program's home state and primary recruiting ground, the choice is easy: Florida.
No other state produces more Division I talent than Texas, according to Football Study Hall. However, California and Florida are the two other heavily populated states that churn out tons of Division I talent. In fact, Florida produces more recruits per capita than Texas.
Furthermore, over the last three NFL drafts, no state has produced more NFL talent than Florida, according to Jamie Newberg of Scout.com.
Schools in Florida could probably fill out an entire 85-man roster with in-state recruits if they wanted to—assuming kids didn't want to leave the state to play, of course.
In any case, Florida produces talent in abundance.
Stadium: The Rose Bowl
Disclaimer: this is from a spectator's view only. This isn't about how loud your stadium is, or how shiny and new.
This isn't necessarily about tradition or lore, which the Rose Bowl has plenty of—it's simply about the best setting.
I mean, look at it. There just aren't many settings more picturesque than Pasadena. It's a "bucket list" item, like Times Square on New Year's Eve or participating in a polar bear plunge.
This was a hard decision; LSU's Tiger Stadium, The Big House at Michigan and even Folsom Field in Colorado got some consideration.
Roster: 2001 Miami Hurricanes
Just how stacked were the 2001 Miami Hurricanes?
The Hurricanes had five first-round selections in the 2002 NFL draft, including tight end Jeremy Shockey and safety Ed Reed. In all, 11 players from the '01 team were drafted that spring.
Antrel Rolle and Sean Taylor were freshmen—as was Frank Gore, the team's third-leading rusher. Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork and Kellen Winslow II were all there too.
The number of future NFL players on that roster was truly astounding. How the Hurricanes didn't beat every opponent by 100 that year remains one of life's great mysteries.
Coach: Howard Schnellenberger
Howard Schnellenberger will never be in the College Football Hall of Fame. The reason why is explained in this piece from last month. Put simply, he doesn't meet the criteria.
Even as someone who has a newfound appreciation for the selection process, I find this to be an unfortunate crime.
So while Schnellenberger's numbers may not be Hall-worthy, he is considered one of the all-timers to roam a college football sideline. He made contenders out of Miami, Louisville and, later, Florida Atlantic.
He also wore suits to games, carried a pipe and sported a handsome mustache way before hipsters got a hold of all three fashion trends.
This is Schnelly's well-deserved consolation prize. Look how happy he looks!
Tailgating: Ole Miss
At this point, I'm beginning to feel a little bad for LSU.
The Tigers narrowly missed the cut for best stadium, and now they'll miss best tailgating. LSU just does it right.
But so does Ole Miss. The scene at The Grove is perfect and captures everything that is great about football in the South. It's where fine dining meets a game that is barbaric by nature.
Wisconsin also gets a nod here, as does Washington and Tennessee for their unique practice of "boatgating."
Fight Song: Michigan's "The Victors"
There are two schools of thought when it comes to deciding which school has the best fight song.
On one hand, shouldn't the most recognizable and original fight song be selected here? On the other, shouldn't the most annoying and insufferable fight song be selected here?
We here at B/R like to have our cake and eat it, too, so we're going with something that embodies both: Michigan's "The Victors."
Classic? Yes. Unbearable after a few plays? Absolutely.
It's the perfect choice.
Tradition: Notre Dame
Notre Dame didn't invent college football.
It just feels that way sometimes—probably because Notre Dame wants you to think it invented college football.
The stadium, "Touchdown Jesus", the Heisman winners and national championships, the Four Horsemen, Knute Rockne, (formerly) spray painting the helmets—it's all jam-packed into one program.
Notre Dame's lore has been more subdued in recent years. The Irish's last national championship came in 1988, and its last Heisman winner—Tim Brown—came the year before. Still, there was a time when Notre Dame football was on another level.
Our super-program's tradition pays homage to that time.
When you have 325 consecutive home sellouts, your fanbase has earned bragging rights.
That's what Nebraska can claim. As of the end of the 2012 season, the Cornhuskers had sold out every home game since 1962, with a home record of 282-43.
Nebraska's reputation for loyal fans took a hit this past December when reports surfaced that ticket sales for the Gator Bowl were lagging, but that shouldn't undo decades—literally—of fandom.
Besides, bowl games are generally better viewed from the comfort of home anyway.
College Town: Madison, Wisconsin
ESPN's Scott Van Pelt had to declare it. And if it's good enough for SVP, it's good enough for the rest of us.
Madison, Wisconsin has it going on. Whether it's a football, basketball or hockey game, the Badgers are the No. 1 show in town. There's State Street, the Capitol building and the lakes that sandwich the town. It's a great setting—and there's always a party happening somewhere.
And it's almost always because of the Badgers.
Athens, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colorado and Chapel Hill, North Carolina also get consideration.
*BIAS DISCLAIMER: I visited Chapel Hill in 2010 for a wedding and never wanted to leave.
Uniforms: Florida State
(Before they were updated, that is.)
Make no mistake: Florida State's uniforms are legit. Garnet and gold is a great combination that's going to work no matter how the details change.
If we're talking personal preferences, though, last year's uniforms were great for the Seminoles. Normally, I'm a fan of home colors (as seen above), but there's just something about the white top with the gold helmet and pants. It's just a great look.
I'm also a sucker for unique or bold color combinations. UCLA, North Carolina, Texas—they're all great.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report.
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