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The 8 best/worst non-sporting venues to host a football game

A decade after abandoning the idea, college basketball will once again put a basketball game on an aircraft carrier. It's time for college football to up the ante.

On Tuesday, word broke that Gonzaga and Michigan State are in discussions to play a basketball game aboard an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11. If that idea sounds familiar, it's because it is. 

Various forces combined to create the Carrier Classic in the early part of the previous decade. North Carolina and Michigan State played in the first one on Veteran's Day in 2011 aboard the USS Carl Vinson. The event was a relative success: more than 8,000 servicemen and women, as well as President Obama and his family, watched the Heels beat the Spartans.

Inspired by that success, the promoters attempted a triple-header in 2012. The Notre Dame women beat the Ohio State women atop the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., but the Ohio State-Marquette game that was supposed to follow it, as well as the Georgetown-Florida game on the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, were both canceled. 

Turns out, it's hard to play a basketball game, outdoors, on top of the ocean.

From the Columbus Dispatch's account of the Ohio State-Marquette game:

"I saw a couple of Marquette players sliding from halfcourt to about the three-point line without picking up their feet," Ohio State guard Aaron Craft said.

Towels and dust mops came out, wielded by workers, team managers, officials and even some players.

They were no match for Mother Nature, and after nearly an hour of attempted starts and stops, and much discussion, neither was the Carrier Classic any match last night. The second annual college basketball opener on an aircraft carrier, between the No.4-ranked Buckeyes and Marquette, was canceled by recurrent condensation on the court atop the flight deck of the USS Yorktown in Charleston Harbor.

Two days later, Syracuse managed to beat San Diego State atop the USS Midway outside San Diego, but it was a terrible game. Constant winds forced the teams to shoot 2-of-22 from three and 25-of-52 from the free throw line. 

By 2013, the idea was abandoned and rightfully left in the past -- until it wasn't.

If college basketball can play a game on an aircraft carrier, well, why should they have all the fun? Sure, there have been college football games at non-football venues: Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Bristol Motor Speedway.  

But those are all sporting venues. It's time for blue-sky thinking. Let's step outside the box, throw the box in the trash, and truly free our minds. Here are eight terrible, wonderful venues to play college football games:

8. Leo Carrillo State Beach -- Malibu, Calif.

Ohio State quarterback-turned-FBI agent Johnny Utah famously infiltrated the Ex-Presidents in the 1991 classic Point Break, in large part thanks to his performance in a beach football game. Get Ohio State and USC to recreate the scene in front of a primetime audience on Fox. Imagine the visuals when Trojan DB Latrell McCutchin knocks Buckeye quarterback CJ Stroud into the Pacific Ocean. 

7. The Mall of America -- Bloomington, Minn.

Football is America's greatest commercial sport, so why not play a game at the ultimate shrine to American commerce? Remove the tables in the food court, shut down Chick-fil-A and Orange Julius, and get Minnesota and Kansas State in there for a non-conference game.

Mall of America

6. The pasture where Coach Taylor and the Dillon Panthers played that one game in the Friday Night Lights TV show -- Somewhere off Highway 79, Texas 

A train derailment renders the Panthers' state semifinal site unusable and, rather than use any of the hundreds of other stadiums that would've been available in mid-December, Coach Taylor leads Dillon's efforts to construct their own field on a pasture. "It's a football game. What you need for a football game is a football field, 22 kids and a pigskin."

Well said, Coach. Find the exact piece of land where this field was supposed to be and get Texas and Texas A&M to renew their rivalry upon it. 

5. College Field -- New Brunswick, New Jersey

The first game of what would eventually become American football was played at College Field in New Brunswick, N.J. Eventually renamed Nielson Field, it was deemed "dilapidated" by 1934 and eventually replaced. The field is now a parking lot for a recreation gym on the Rutgers campus.

Roll some AstroTurf over the asphalt and get Rutgers and Princeton back out there.

4. In front of Mount Rushmore -- Keystone, S.D.

The game of football quite possibly does not exist without President Teddy Roosevelt, whose personal interest in the game inspired him to intervene and save the game from itself. Abraham Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler, a precursor to football. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington would've been big fans of Jamey Chadwell's spread option offense.

Find some green space and get Washington & Jefferson College to play Roosevelt University as their namesakes approvingly look down from above. 

3. National Mall -- Washington, D.C.

What better way to celebrate the grandeur and pageantry of America's game than on America's front lawn?

Get Army and Navy to play a game on the Mall next Thanksgiving.

National Mall

2. Mount Conner -- Northern Territory, Australia

It would require international travel, but, Northwestern and Nebraska will open this season in Ireland, so why not make a trip below the equator? Spring temperatures in Australia's Northern Territory (fall in the Northern Hemisphere) are typically in the low 60s in the mornings, so the weather would be quite pleasant when Tennessee and Georgia Tech open the 2024 season Down Under. 

Mount Conner

1. On Four Aircraft Carriers Pushed Together -- Pacific Ocean

If college basketball can do it, why not football? It worked for North Carolina and Michigan State last time, so let's do it again.