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Photos: Florida State's new facilities overhaul will put them in the stratosphere

They say you should strike while the iron's hot, and that thing is sizzling right now for Florida State. The 'Noles are back-to-back ACC champions, the reigning national champions, return a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, and are the odds-on favorites to do it all again in 2014.

On Wednesday, Florida State announced the Champions Campaign, a $250 million fundraising effort to upgrade the entire athletics department's facilities, scholarship endowments, and bottom line. 

"The Champions Campaign, a $250 million campaign for Athletics, will take FSU’s facilities, scholarships and the operating budget to a higher level in all sports," the announcement reads. "The enhancements will include those facilities where the Seminoles live, work, study and play. The facilities will help our current student-athletes achieve their goals, attract prospective student-athletes and improve the game day experience for Seminole fans."

Florida State has built a new website explaining the Doak Campbell Stadium-sized goal of the project: built the athletics department's endowment to $190 million, which would then fully fund Florida State's $9.5 million annual scholarship commitment, increase enrollment in FSU's booster club, sell seats in Doak Campbell's premium Champions Club seating, build Florida State's state-of-the-art Champions Hall dorm facility, and help pay for the recently-completed indoor practice facility. 

Florida State (quite literally) already has the infrastructure in place to build a championship-winning football program, but completing this latest fundraising drive would put the 'Noles in the want-for-absolutely-nothing stratosphere alongside Oregon and Alabama.

All it takes is a quarter of a billion dollars to get there. 

Back in May, while we were touring Hollman's factory (the good people behind the new look), several Florida State staff members were there finalizing the design you see below. At that time they were confident this would be one of the best locker rooms in the country, and after seeing the finished concepts it would be hard to disagree. This is outstanding work.

 

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The latest advancement in hype video technology: Drones

Let's hope there is more where this came from, both at LSU and throughout the country.

Also, it sounds like Batman is about to descend on Tiger Stadium.

Pat Fitzgerald explains how recruiting is like dating

Pat Fitzgerald is as black and white as it gets, especially when it comes to recruiting.

When it comes to verbal commitments there are two camps among staffs; some coaches believe that kids should go out and visit schools after making a verbal to help further solidify things in their minds, while others (and this is where coach Fitz falls) subscribe to the idea that once a recruit has give a verbal commitment, they're as good as signed and should be done visiting other programs...no questions asked.

Upon losing the commitment of two four-star recruits (who happen to be twins), Fitz explained to the media that recruiting is a lot like dating where a commitment means everything.

“It is made crystal clear when I start a relationship with recruits. This is how we do it. I won’t pressure you. If you want to be a Wildcat, I only want you if you’re 100 percent sure. I don’t just tell it to the kids on a ‘DM’ (direct message) on Twitter. I look at them eye-to-eye, it’s in my office, it’s with a parent or their champion (most influential family member). Their high school coaches know it. So don’t commit till you’re ready. I’m not changing what we do.”

“If we make a commitment, we’re engaged. If you want to date somebody else, we’re no longer engaged and there is no more getting married. Like it or not, that is how we will do business.” Fitz told the Chicago Tribune.

Then Fitz told the fan base to brace themselves for more decommitments, because him and his staff are focused on building a culture with the right guys who WANT to be in Evanston, and he's not wavering.

“With this accelerated recruiting, our fans better get ready for more decommitments. I don’t want to coach guys who don’t want to be at Northwestern. Our staff doesn’t want to coach guys and, most importantly, our players don’t want those kinds of guys on our team. They want guys who want to be part of our culture."

In my personal opinion (and I know a lot of coaches will disagree), I think that's a great analogy. Losing two four star kids in one class is going to hurt, but props to Fitz for sticking to his guns and continuing to build the program his way.

Read the full piece here.

Iowa will put five students on scholarship for buying football tickets

You can bust your backside your entire life, waking up early and going to bed late, lifting every weight imaginable and falling asleep with your nose in your playbook in hopes of earning a scholarship to play football at the University of Iowa. Or, you could just enter a raffle.

After a lackluster turnout in which more than 25 percent of Iowa's 10,000 student tickets went unsold and plenty of seats unsold for this season, the Hawkeyes are holding a raffle that will include one-year scholarships for five lucky students. The school will provide $8,000 in tuition for the 2014-15 academic year for the winners, the estimated cost of in-state tuition at the university.

"As a department we're convinced today more than ever before that part of the experience of being a student at the University of Iowa is experiencing game days at Kinnick Stadium," Iowa Rick Klatt associate AD for external relations told KCRG-TV. "We'd like to think there are still enough students in our student body that a student section of 10,000 students is very doable. And we just need to give them the reasons to be there."

Iowa charges students $25 per game for tickets to its seven home games. With 2,700 unsold tickets, Iowa missed out on nearly half a million dollars in revenue from its student body, but recouped it by putting the unsold seats for sale to the general public.

"We want students in Kinnick Stadium, and the staff has spent the year listening and planning ways to increase the fun and excitement. A loud and active student section is such an important part of the game day experience," said athletics director Gary Barta.

"Going 4-8 a couple years ago probably didn't help anything," said Iowa student Kyle Mann. "I think it will get better. With the wins will come the fans." The Hawkeyes went 4-8 in 2012 before posting an 8-5 campaign in 2013. 

While everyone has a theory as to why students have stopped coming to games in the numbers they previously did, Iowa believes a large number of 11 a.m. kicks, plus the burden of committing to seven home games, may be keeping Iowa students at home.

Lame, and double lame.

Iowa's 2014 home slate consists of Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State, Indiana and Northwestern before closing with Wisconsin and Nebraska. Following last season's surprise rebound, some believe Iowa could start 10-0 before getting the Badgers and Huskers in Kinnick Stadium to close the year.

 

 

Video: Climb

Very well done video here from West Virginia.

"The Mountaineers will climb."

WVU opens up with Alabama at the Georgia Dome as part of kickoff weekend and their conference schedule includes home games against Oklahoma, Kansas, Baylor, TCU, and Kansas State, with road games at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Iowa State.

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