Did you think bats, skeletons, a cemetery and an earthquake fault were the only unknown stadium quirks across college football?
Come take another trip with us.
Our series last week featuring little-known and way cool stories about college football stadiums from Alabama to Tennessee to California was such a hit, we are coming back for another round. Call it stadium oddities, Part Deux.
In our journey this week, we will let you in on even more remarkable factoids: from the 100-year-old concrete bleachers hidden underneath Bobby Dodd Stadium, to the Rose Bowl's trashy origin, to a telescopic mirror lab at Arizona.
These secrets? None of them are safe from us.
Bobby Dodd Stadium's basement is ... another stadium?
"Come this way. I am going to show you something really cool."
Chris Yandle, Georgia Tech assistant AD for communications, walks underneath the west side of Bobby Dodd Stadium, under the current stands. The lights are dim, the floor dusty and dirty, with chairs and some tables scattered around. But up ahead, on the right, Yandle points out a hidden relic the general public has no access to: the original concrete bleachers, poured and finished in 1915, two years after the first game was played at Grant Field. Seating capacity: 2,808.
The pale yellow bleachers are in remarkably good shape -- you can clearly still see the row and seat numbers -- which is even more impressive when you consider they were primarily built by students. What else would you expect out of engineers? "The first time I saw it, I was amazed," said Doc Hill, who has served as facility manager at Bobby Dodd Stadium for five years. "People don't ever get to see that kind of stuff. You go under there and say, 'Wow, this is cool because they left some history underneath here.'"
The rest of the stadium grew around those original bleachers. During the first west-side expansion in the 1940s, the original bleachers were left alone and work was done around them. When Georgia Tech decided to add double-decker stands on the west side in 1967, planners decided it would be easier to build over the original bleachers rather than knock them down and start over.
To accomplish the task, holes were made into several portions of the original bleachers. Beams were placed in the holes to support the new structure.
Now, Bobby Dodd Stadium -- the oldest on-campus stadium in FBS -- seats 55,000. While nobody sits on the original bleachers anymore, they still have a purpose: They are used for storage. -- Andrea Adelson
Mirrors, mirrors on the wall -- of Arizona Stadium
On any game day at Arizona Stadium, thousands of fans watch the action on the field. Beneath the stands, however, scientists are doing research to be able to look deep into space and far back into history.
That work all began with a man from Flagstaff. A.E. Douglass was a renowned scientist who helped create the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff before moving to Tuscon. When he arrived at the university, he began to build an observatory there, too. After launching the Steward Observatory, he shifted his focus to the field of dendrochronology -- the study of tree rings to gauge climate history -- and developed a lab on campus for that, too, the first of its kind in the nation.
His work in both fields eventually led to the opening of the facilities under the football stadium. "So one guy that came out of Flagstaff spawned what's happened on the left and right side of the stadium -- at least forged the foundation for them," said Jeffrey Kingsley, the associate director of Steward Observatory.
The tree ring lab no longer operates out of the stadium, but the Caras Mirror Laboratory has become a fixture, building some of the world's largest mirrors used in telescopes like the ones at Steward Observatory. The mirror lab was the brainchild of Arizona professor Dr. Roger Angel, who had an idea to build a spin-cast honeycomb mirror, which he did in his wife's oven. From there, he needed more space to build bigger and bigger mirrors, and the university accommodated him with the facility under the stadium.
"They looked under the east side of the stadium and said, 'We can build a spot for you,'" Kingsley said. "It's progressively grown from there, expanding four or five times since his initial facility."
Today, the Caras Mirror Lab builds large, lightweight mirrors that have been used in the Vatican telescope at Mt. Graham, the Smithsonian and the Magellan Telescope. -- David Hale
A marble mascot mausoleum for Uga
The bulldog mascot tradition at Georgia dates back to 1956, when the first "Uga" took the field. In the 59 years since, it has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the football program. The Uga bulldogs are a fixture at home games for Georgia with a custom-made, air-conditioned dog house on the sideline. Uga has even made the occasional entry into game action, too.
In fact, the bulldogs are so revered at Georgia that Sanford Stadium has become the final resting place for all previous Ugas. Georgia is the only major college program that buries its mascots within the confines of the stadium, according to the school's media guide, with eight previous Ugas interred in a marble mausoleum near the main gates to the stadium. A bronze plaque memorializes each Uga with an epitaph and a description of his time as the school's mascot. "When the season's not even going on, fans want to see the cemetery," said Sonny Seiler, whose family has raised the Uga bulldogs over the years.
The Uga burial sites have moved twice over the years -- first when the school enclosed the east end of the stadium in 1981 and again when the west end zone was enclosed in 1992. A life-sized bronze bulldog statue now guards the mausoleum in its current location. -- David Hale
Mississippi State says R.I.P. (at midfield) to a Bully
Georgia has made it a tradition to honor its deceased mascots with a spot under the stadium, but Mississippi State has afforded a special spot to its first bulldog.
While the cowbells have become the symbol of Starkville's passion for football, the Bully mascot has been a tradition since the 1930s. Bully I arrived just after Mississippi State's historic 13-7 win over Army in 1935 and quickly became a beloved member of the campus. Unfortunately for Bully I, his time representing the team was cut short in 1939 when he was hit by a campus bus.
According to the school's website, Bully I was displayed in a glass coffin and days of mourning followed his death. Eventually, a funeral procession was held, ending at Davis Wade Stadium, where Bully I was buried underneath the 50-yard line.
Other Bully mascots have followed, but Bully I is the only bulldog to get his official spot in the stadium. -- David Hale
NC State plays on an old pond? NC State plays on an old pond
NC State's first stadium was a horrendous structure, built in sections starting in the 1890s and expanded, bit by bit, by each subsequent graduating class. The bleachers were wooden, the press box was open air and the light poles that were installed for night games were dug directly into the sidelines.
Legendary Wolfpack coach Earle Edwards hated it so much, he preferred to take his team on the road. In fact, from 1957 to 1964, NC State played more than three home games just once. The road offered a reprieve from the shabby digs of Riddick Stadium, but it also guaranteed a payday.
"He'd go for guarantees to help raise money for the stadium," said Tim Peeler, a historian for NC State.
By 1965, Carter-Finley Stadium was ready for games, but its creation was more than just a labor of love by the head football coach.
The stadium sits on the grounds of an old research pond. The pond was drained, and the stands were erected along the sides. One end zone, however, for the next 35 years remained a grassy hill, where students would sit to watch games.
"At the time, it was like an erector set," Peeler said. "The concrete structures jutted out into the air, and it didn't look like any other stadium."
Improvements were made over the years, and the stadium now has a more traditional bowl design in the shape of that pond. As much as the site has evolved, however, it was still Edwards' creation, and when he died in 1997, his ashes were scattered on the playing field at Carter-Finley -- his final wish, Peeler said. -- David Hale
Students used to be able to live at LSU's Tiger Stadium
For more than 50 years, LSU's Tiger Stadium didn't just house one of the most intimidating home crowds in college football -- it also was home to approximately 1,500 students who lived in dorm rooms that had been built into the stadium structure.
Yes, dorm rooms at the football stadium.
In 1931, LSU athletic director T.P. "Skipper" Heard persuaded LSU president James Smith to use $250,000 that had been earmarked to build new dorms to construct the residences inside the stadium, thereby allowing Heard to also expand the stadium's seating capacity.
Local legend has Louisiana governor and LSU superfan Huey Long as the source of the expansion plan, but Bud Johnson, LSU's former sports information director and currently the director of the school's Andonie athletics museum, said it was Heard's brainchild.
"The athletic director wanted to expand the stadium," Johnson said, adding that Heard was also the architect of another long-standing football tradition at LSU: night football. "He deserves the credit for that. It was his idea. The governor helped in other ways."
Nonetheless, future stadium expansions also featured further dorm additions that created housing and office space on multiple floors throughout the stadium. LSU's football team even lived in the stadium in the fall of 1986, when the athletic dorm was being renovated.
However, the living space inside the stadium could not have been mistaken for five-star accommodations, with mostly tiny rooms, community restrooms and no air conditioning. The dorms' livability decreased further as time passed, to the point that LSU stopped offering them as a housing option in the late 1980s.
The rooms still exist within the stadium, but LSU restricts access to them because of safety concerns. Though there had been talk of repurposing the old dorm rooms for modern-day use, the dingy old rooms sit empty these days, serving as a visual reminder of how LSU's leadership had to get creative in a bygone era as they worked to build Tiger Stadium into one of college football's grandest structures. -- David Ching
The Rose Bowl was once a giant garbage heap
Would you believe the stadium named for sweet smelling roses was actually built in an area that once served as an Olympic cycling venue and a garbage dump?
Back in the early part of the 20th century, the Tournament of Roses staged a football game in 1902 between Michigan and Stanford at Tournament Park. The game was such a blowout -- Michigan won 49-0 -- that organizers decided to put football on the back burner. Instead, chariot races, ostrich races and even an elephant-camel race were featured at Tournament Park for the next decade.
Darryl Dunn, general manager of the Rose Bowl, said he has heard two reasons why organizers brought football back: It was either because the sport was so popular it could no longer be ignored, or an ostrich ran so off course during a race it nearly killed one of the tournament presidents.
Either way, football returned in 1916 and became such a hit that Tournament of Roses president William Leishman decided a permanent stadium needed to be built in Pasadena. Drawing inspiration from the Yale Bowl, the organization hired an architect, and they started scouting sites around town. Dunn said legend has it they gathered one day at the famous Chandler School, held up a piece of paper aimed at the Arroyo Seco site they had in mind and cut a hole out of it to envision how it would look. At the time, the site was known more for its agriculture and garbage dumps. What vision, then, to look beyond the trash piles and see beauty.
During various excavation and renovation projects, workers often encounter old relics and trash they dig up from the soil. Before Dunn arrived in the 1990s, he said one dig brought up a car. Other items that have been found, from license plates, wheels and old Coca-Cola bottles, are in an area of the newly restored 1922 locker room that is open to the public for tours.
It all calls to mind the old phrase "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Fits perfectly, doesn't it? -- Andrea Adelson
Know of other stadium oddities? Give us your favorites in the comments section.