When it comes to college athletics facilities, it really is one big game of 'keeping up with the Joneses.' Your facilities are only as good as your biggest rival's, and the construction is never truly complete. As soon as one building goes up, it's time to build another. Once that's complete, something else needs a renovation.
It's been going on for years, but we got the latest reminder on Tuesday, when SMU -- tiny, SMU -- announced it has secured $191 million in gifts for athletic facilities upgrades. It will use $150 million as part of what it is deeming 'Phase 1' of the project, which will help build, amongst other things, an indoor performance center (replete with a full-length football field), as well as an outdoor football practice field and new soccer stadium.
Here are details straight from the SMU press release:
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SMU recently announced plans to construct a new Indoor Performance Center, an outdoor natural grass football practice field and a new soccer stadium, another sign of the University's commitment to competing at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. These plans come on the heels of amazing success during SMU's Second Century Campaign, when SMU Athletics secured more than $191 million in gift commitments, and after 18 months of careful planning and design.
"This is a transformative plan for SMU Athletics and another tangible example of our commitment and desire to compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
From there, the press release continues with more details, though it seems like we hit all the key, pertinent info in those two paragraphs above. After all, doesn't it seem like a bit more than coincidence that in those opening two paragraphs, the phrase 'competing at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics' is mentioned not once, but twice?
It seems more than ironic, especially, since you know the latest go-around of college sports conference realignment seems to be on the horizon, and SMU seems to be firmly on the outside looking in. For all the talk about Houston, Cincinnati, BYU and a couple directional schools in Florida, SMU seems to be the one program that is both prominent and geographically relevant, and isn't even being considered by the Big 12.
Whether this is enough for SMU to get into the conversation, only time will tell.
But if this is SMU's way of showing its value to college football's conference big boys, it's a hell of a way to make an impression.