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Notre Dame’s $400 million renovations include 3,000-4,000 premium seats

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Notre Dame revealed plans for a $400 university renovation project that will see some upgrades to storied Notre Dame Stadium in the coming years. According to a press release from the university outlining the details of the project, Notre Dame Stadium will have three structures added to the stadium for various activities and the addition of anywhere between 3,000 and 4,000 premium club seats.

“At a time when so many would call into question the viability of the collegiate sports model in America, it is fitting that Notre Dame, a perennial leader in the measures of academic performance by student-athletes, offers a bold vision providing emphatic evidence that the full integration of athletics into the academic mission of a university is not only possible but desirable,” said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s vice president and director of athletics. “Coach Brian Kelly and I are thrilled that one of the most famous sports venues in the world will now also be known as one of the most innovative educational facilities.”

The expansion on the west side of Notre Dame Stadium will serve as a center for student life services with space for a recreation center and career center. On the east side of the stadium will be a building dedicated for the anthropology and psychology departments as well as a digital media center. The south expansion will house the Department of Music and the Sacred Music at Notre Dame. As you read through the details of the expansion, you can see how it may benefit the football program in the future.

Premium seating means big money for the school, if they can sell out the tickets. This being Notre Dame, that seems likely. The Irish are also updating the game day experience inside the stadium for all fans with the addition of an updated and modern scoreboard in the south end. Having all of those other services literally attached to the football stadium also makes for a more attractive football program and beyond. At this time no seating changes will take place in the two lower bowls of the stadium. A total capacity for the stadium once the project is completed has not been confirmed.

What is interesting is that Notre Dame chose to make the football stadium the center of the campus renovations and upgrades. The first question on the project’s website asks why the decision was made to build around the stadium.

“Currently, the stadium is used just 10 to 12 times a year,” the website explains. “In 2013, the University formed an oversight committee of faculty and staff tasked with studying an ambitious concept: how to make this campus crossroads a year-round hub for academic and student life. With assistance from outside consultants with expertise in architecture, engineering, technology, food services, and student life, that group helped craft the bold plan detailed on this website.”

The project is not starting overnight though. Expect the project plans to become reality within the next two years and it should take an estimated 33 months to complete. There are no plans to rename Notre Dame Stadium.

Artist rendering via Notre Dame Athletics.

Tennessee adds future home-and-home with BYU

KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10: Rajion Neal #20 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs into the end zone with an eight-yard touchdown reception in the first overtime against the Missouri Tigers at Neyland Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Missouri won 51-48 in four overtimes. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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At the moment, BYU is looking at one hellacious start to the 2019 season.

Thursday afternoon, BYU announced tat it has added a future home-and-home series with Tennessee.  The Volunteers will serve as the host for a Sept. 7, 2019, matchup at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, with the second game set for Sept. 1 or 2, 2023, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

The 2019 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.

“There’s something about those orange and white checkerboard end zones that shouts ‘Tradition!’,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “When the opportunity to play a series with Tennessee presented itself, we didn’t blink. They’re a storied football program with a winning tradition, national championships, a classic stadium, incredible fans and hall of fame coaches.

“It will be a great experience to visit SEC country and play in Neyland Stadium, and later host Tennessee in Provo.”

BYU will kick off the 2019 season against Utah, followed by games against Tennessee, USC and Washington the next three weeks.  They also have a pair of mid-October games against Washington State and Boise State.

UT’s other non-conference games that season include Georgia State, Chattanooga and UAB.

Fighting Illini live up to nickname as Lovie Smith calls early end to practice amidst fisticuffs

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 01: Head coach Lovie Smith of the Illinois Fighting Illini looks over the field against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Illinois 31-16. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
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Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.

According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out.  The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.

From the Herald & Review‘s report:

…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.

The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.

The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.

Andy Dodd tweets decision to transfer from LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Fans sit in the rain during the Auburn Tigers against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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With spring practice getting set to kick of en masse all across the country, there’s more of the expected personnel attrition settling in and coming to light.

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Andy Dodd announced that it is in his “best interest” to transfer from LSU and continue playing college football elsewhere. “This decision was not an easy one, but it is what’s best for me moving forward,” the offensive lineman wrote.

Dodd was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 guard in the country.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, the lineman played in eight games the next two seasons. He played in six games, with one start, in 2016.

Auburn adds FCS starting lineman as graduate transfer

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 12: Running back Peyton Barber #25 of the Auburn Tigers dives for the end zone during overtime in their game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on September 12, 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 27-20. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.

Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster.  The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.

He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception.  Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.

The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American.  While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.

Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.