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The Loop

The Loop

Auburn’s new $60 million football complex with a barbershop, flight simulator, and recording studio is proof college football is doing just fine

January 11, 2021

There’s been a lot of crocodile tears shed this season over the Death of College Football. Boo hoo, everyone from the White House on down sobbed as a pile of 300,000 something corpses forced the delay and/or minor alteration of the 2020 college football season. The programs won’t survive, we cried! People will lose their jobs! What if our star cornerback falls 12 spots in the draft so his grandma can live to see next Christmas!? Wahhhh.

Well, as it turns out, rumors of the great, altruistic, and totally-not-corrupt-or-exploitative institution of college football’s demise were greatly exaggerated, evidenced this week by Auburn football breaking ground on their new $60-million-dollar “Football Performance Center.” War Eagle!

We don’t know how it looks from your vantage point, but from where we’re standing college football looks just fine indeed. Auburn finished 6-5 this season. In early December, they fired head coach Gus Malzahn with $21 million remaining on his contract. Half of that sum was due to Malzahn within 30 days of his termination. The rest, plus an additional $8.3 million to his staff, Auburn will continue to pay until 2025. Add that to the unveiling of this shiny new SEC temple—replete with a recording studio and flight simulator—and you have the greatest lie the devil never told.

Granted, the Group of Five programs had a tougher road this season, asked to take an equally smaller piece of an exponentially smaller pie. But 2020 presented opportunities to them too. BYU, Coastal Carolina, and Cincinnati all took centerstage this year in ways they couldn’t have if ESPN were droning on about some middling Saturday night matchup between Texas and LSU. Sure, they might not get an onsite barbershop, hypoallergenic beanbag chairs, and 4K UHD filmroom flatscreens like the Tigers do, but if college football has taught us one thing over the years, pandemic or no, it’s that beggars can’t be choosers.