On Monday, news broke that Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh plans to take his team to Rome for three of their 15 spring practices. It’s an interesting choice, to be sure, although it does give the players a great chance to absorb some culture and see some of history’s most notable sites.
Harbaugh’s move left us wondering: Where should Ohio State go this spring to keep pace with its rival?
Most coaches like to host preseason practices in the blazing hot sun. But that’s almost heretical to true Big Ten aficionados, fans of a conference whose reputation is staked on gutting out 9-6 wins in blinding snowstorms.
Where better to train for the Big Ten’s most inhospitable environments than the galaxy’s most fearsome ice moon? A place whose snow almost got the best of Luke Skywalker seems like the perfect proving ground for a team looking to reconquer its conference.
(Downside: the “SEC teams don’t want no smoke, they’re not tough enough to play up north!!!” takes would reach a level of fervor heretofore unknown if this actually somehow happened.)
Universities like Ohio State and Michigan tend to have the nicest of everything, but it’s worth noting that college football is also a massive, unwieldy beast made of unsustainable debt. Programs need to start thinking about fiscal responsibility to survive in these tumultuous times. So why not replicate the Harbaugh experience...on a budget?
Rome, NY is a charming city of 34,000 in Oneida County. It’s the former home of people from basketball legend Pat Riley to Roots’ Alex Haley. Worried that the Wolverines might get more history than the Buckeyes on their trip to the lesser Rome? Fear not. Rome, NY is not only the birthplace of the Erie Canal, it’s also the home of America’s first cheese factory. Take that, Italy.
Unfamiliar with Ohio State’s newest spring practice location? Allow author H.P. Lovecraft to enlighten you:
The nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh…was built in measureless eons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults.
But enough about the NCAA, am I right?
Seriously, though: it’s a great location, and it’s fertile recruiting ground for a team that’s never said no to bringing in vast shapes (be they loathsome or otherwise). You have to be creative in this business to get a leg up on the next guy, and given how often Urban Meyer has been accused of dark wizardry, this feels like a logical next step.
Look, if Jim Harbaugh was brazen enough to host a satellite camp in Warren, Ohio, there’s no more high ground for him to take if Urban Meyer wants to bring his players down the road from the Wolverines this spring.
San Marino, besides sounding like the name a former Miami Dolphins QB would give the cops if he got busted at a house party, is the fifth-smallest country in the world, enclaved entirely within the nation of Italy. Named after Marinus, a Roman stonemason who rebuilt the walls of a city after its destruction by pirates, it’s a place built on #grit and #grind.
(Here’s hoping neither team’s players hear the last words of Marinus and decide to abdicate, though: Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine translates to “I leave you free from both men.”)
(All photos courtesy of Harry Lyles, Jr., the internet’s preeminent Atlanta Falcons fan.)