As we approach the beginning of yet another college football season, it's important that we're adequately prepared for the awesomeness that is to follow.
In man's earliest years after stiff-arming the rest of the food chain to emerge victorious, we lived in caves.
And like a grand circle, modern man has voluntarily returned to the cave. Sort of. We are, of course, talking about the man cave.
So in order to prepare for the upcoming start to the college football season, let's run down a list of the essential must haves of any truly great man cave.
Usually the first thing that catches your eye in a room is what's on the wall.
While there are some specifics we'll get to later, it's important that your cave's walls are adorned with appropriate coverings.
What do we mean by appropriate? Well, we mean content relevant.
Do not put up any Picasso reproductions or pictures of sunsets.
Instead, how about a giant framed photo of your team's stadium packed to capacity?
This is just as important as the wall hangings.
If you live in Columbus, blue carpet and maize-yellow walls probably won't cut it.
You'll need to tear that carpet out right away and make your way to the local hardware store. Order some gray carpet and pick up a few gallons of scarlet paint.
Now that we've created the proper atmosphere, it's important to fill the cave with appropriate furnishings.
The refrigerator is the basic appliance any cave needs. Be it full-sized or mini, the fridge will be something you and your guests visit often on game day, so make sure it's sturdy, durable, and always full.
The coolest (no pun intended) way to go here is to get a sliding glass door fridge—you know, the kind you see at your local corner store, gas station, or dive bar.
Darts is definitely a man's game.
It involves skill, timing, and throwing sharp objects. What could be better?
Dart boards also are relatively inexpensive and come in every color combination imaginable—including officially licensed collegiate color schemes.
A not-so-inexpensive game addition to the ultimate man cave is the almighty pool table.
Pool combines the best of drunken bar games and classy, up-scale room fixtures.
And if you really want to impress your friends, some custom felt is the way to go.
If we have a pool table, we might as well add a poker table as well.
After all, college football is usually a one day a week ordeal and lasts from September to January. Do we really want a room as often as this man cave to go unused the rest of the week, or year?
Poker tables also come in varying sizes and shapes, and again we're going to recommend some custom felt here. At the very least, make sure you're not going with plain old green (unless you're a big Michigan State fan, that is).
It's important to have some lifeline to the outside world.
How else are you going to get a hold of the pizza guy?
Usually a cell phone will do. But if your cave is particularly subterranean, or way out in the sticks, you better make sure that place is wired up for a normal, old-fashioned phone line.
The whole point to a man cave is avoiding the outside world.
How can that possibly be accomplished if we have to leave for the most basic of functions?
Make sure there's a men's room close at hand.
And make sure it's adequately ventilated away from the rest of the man cave.
Seriously, how awesome are these things?
Back in the day, every bar and diner that was worth visiting had one of these beauties in the corner.
Now, they're pretty hard to find out in the real world.
But that doesn't mean they're not still available.
You can even get them with USB ports to load your favorite .mp3 files. Of course, an old CD, or better yet, vinyl jukebox is even better, and will impress the crap out of your fellow man.
Anyone over the age of about 35 fondly remembers the old arcade machines.
Funny enough, the simple addition of one or two of these behemoths to your man cave can bring out the child in all of us.
The best way to celebrate that inevitable victory over the week is with a few nice puffs on a quality cigar.
Of course, that cigar won't stay quality for long if it's not kept in a quality humidor.
Humidors also look pretty classy just sitting on the table, even if you don't intend to smoke anything out of it.
If you have cigars in your humidor, it's probably a good idea that you have a few ash trays sitting around, too.
That way you don't have to beat your friend into a pulp for burning a hole into the felt of the aforementioned pool or poker tables.
Ash trays can be pretty sweet looking, too. A few minutes searching the Internet might also reveal that rare giant crystal Alabama Crimson Tide ash tray you've always wanted, too.
Who decided that pole dancing was a good exercise for the common woman?
It must have been a man, and that man deserves the thanks of all of us.
Of course, the benefit here is that poles are now readily available on the market, and they're pretty easy to install, too.
Women aren't typically part of the man cave scenery, but who are we to object if she'd like to get in a little exercise during halftime?
We all know that beer and football go together like, well, beer and football.
But every now and then, it might be nice to expand the palate a bit. A little rum, vodka, tequila, bourbon, or whiskey might be good change of pace every now and then.
Plus, you can really impress your friends with your cocktail-making prowess or by the simple fact that you have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.
Put away that thin Wal-Mart stuff, and hide the stemware.
In the man cave, it's nothing but the best, heavy bottom, lead glass.
The best part about quality glassware for the man cave is that it's readily available in most collegiate designs, including many FCS and Division II schools.
What could be better than inviting over the local Notre Dame alumnus and serving him a beer in your classy Stanford glassware?
There are a number of ways to impress the visitors to your man cave, and we've already mentioned a few.
But to really instill a sense of awe, you're going to need some truly special memorabilia.
We're not talking about some random rare baseball card or a unique bobblehead.
We want to see some really cool stuff from dear old U.
Framed, autographed jerseys are always great. So, too, are signed game-day footballs or helmets.
Just make sure you don't sully the sanctity of your burnt orange man cave deep in the heart of Texas with anything red and white.
And speaking of awing your friends, we've come to the coup de grace.
This time, we're not even talking about some cool collectables from your own program's history.
No, we're talking about some truly great—and rare—collectables.
Yes, this will probably cost you more than any other single piece in the man cave, but it's going to be well worth the price.
After all, how many people have a 1930s-era leather football “helmet” or a game day program from the 1952 Rose Bowl Game?
We've all been at some bar or some restaurant somewhere at some point in time watching a football game.
And we've all felt the inevitable soreness that comes from sitting in the wrong chair for three hours.
If you're going to have the ultimate comfort during your favorite autumn pastime, you're going to have to get the ultimate chair.
Whether you're a La-Z-Boy guy or a Barcalounger man, there's a chair out there for you.
And if you've never experienced the sitting goodness that is a leather recliner, what better time to join the ranks of comfortable backsides than when you're outfitting your man cave?
Your man cave won't become the place to watch college football unless your friends are comfortable, too.
A giant—and we mean oversized, extra large, giant—couch is the way to go here.
It also will serve as a great napping place for those solitary days in the cave.
Autumn Saturdays are perhaps the greatest days of the man's calendar year.
But those 15-or-so odd days leave about 350 other days when we might need to take refuge with our fellow men away from the reality of everyday life.
And we'll need something to do.
If you're going to have a man cave with all the bells and whistles, you're definitely going to need a top-of-the-line game system.
Plus, a few games of EA's latest version of NCAA Football is great for getting through those dog days of summer.
And if all else fails, we can always fire up Rudy on Netflix.
What man cave would be complete without the obligatory neon sign?
While we used to have to slum it with second-hand beer signs that bars discarded, we can now go top of the line with custom-made neon for our caves.
Heck, we can even get the USC logo if we want!
In reality, our most favorite place to be on football Saturdays is in the stadium.
What could be better than being crammed into the stands, shoulder to shoulder with your fellow diehards, screaming your lungs out for the team?
The sights, the smells, the sounds—it's all part of the experience of being at the big game.
But if we can't be there, we might as well recreate as much of the atmosphere as possible.
With the networks really stepping up their game-day presentation of college football, a quality surround sound system will be the perfect augment to your man cave experience.
With the crowd noise and marching band piped in through seven or more speakers surrounding the room, it's the next best thing to being there.
With so many games on at the same time, how can we possibly keep track of them all?
Simple! Multiple screens.
You don't need to turn your man cave into a sports bar in order to have several screens going at once. In fact, one great suggestion is to break out your computer and keep it tuned in to your favorite sports sites like ESPN.com and, of course, BleacherReport.com to keep apprised of everything going on around the world of college football.
There are plenty of ways to keep everything under control while hidden away in your man cave.
But if you've got the money to spend, and you've gone all out on everything else, why not get the world's greatest remote control to go with it?
Of course, we mean the Logitech Harmony 1100.
For just a few hundred bucks (MSRP $349.99), you can have total control over everything electronic in your man cave via one of the coolest-looking and truly universal remote controls.
How universal is it?
Not only will it control your TV, DVR/DVD/Blu-Ray player, stereo, receiver, and all the peripherals connected to those devices, it can also be programmed to control things like your XBox 360 or PS3.
And it's completely customizable, too!
The touchscreen can be rearranged to fit your personal preferences. The remote is also available with an option RF upgrade to control all of those RF devices you may have around your cave.
Finally, the centerpiece and focal point of the ultimate college football man cave has to be the big screen on which you'll be watching all of the great moments of the upcoming season.
There are a lot of amazing screens out there, as technology seems to take a quantum leap forward about every year (or so it seems).
Still, we like the uber-large when it comes to television screens for college football.
So for our recommendation for a must-have screen in your man cave, we're going with a projector, not a traditional television.
There are some drawbacks to a projector.
First, the image can be significantly degraded if you're trying to watch the game in a bright room. Direct sunlight on the wall at which the projector is pointed is a no-no.
That being said, we are talking about a man cave, so we'll assume that the natural outside light is kept to a minimum.
The price can also scare some people off. But remember, we're looking to replace the television with something a little larger and way more awesome. So if the projector is way cheaper than a TV would be, you're looking at the wrong projector.
Our pick for your must have man cave projector is the Panasonic PT-AE7000 projector.
This bad boy packs a whopping 300,000:1 contrast ration (great for a projector, and more than adequate for any sports event), full 1080p image, is fully 3D HD compatible, and can project a “screen” up to 300 inches wide at nearly 30 feet.
This bad boy might set you back a few grand (MSRP $3,499), but isn't 300 inches of college football glory worth it? If you're building the ultimate college football man cave with all the must haves of the day, you might as well go with a 300-inch screen.
That makes this projector a must have, but also turns your man cave into the must-watch spot for everyone you know.