Those weird college-football ads.

The stadium scene.
Dec. 30 2005 2:53 PM

Those Weird College Ads

If you like our football team, you'll love our chem labs full of Asian students.

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Bait the Ivy League: "Two years ago, the University of Alabama won another national championship, with more USA Today Academic All-Americans than any other school. Harvard was second," beams the SEC school's promotional spot. "Now the 2005 results are in, finding the University of Alabama again leading the nation. Do I hear dynasty?" When questioned about the budding academic rivalry, a Harvard spokesperson told me, "There is no response available."

Adopt the language of debt-consolidation commercials: "If you got the brains, but not the bucks, the door's open," says the University of Virginia, plugging its AccessUVa financial-aid program. "Can't afford it? Now you can. Worried about debt? Not anymore. Don't feel welcome? Sure you will!"

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Think You Know FSU? Sell the nerds: Virginia Tech's ad depicts Blacksburg as the kind of place where you'll be hoisted up by a cheering throng while wearing a lab coat and holding an Erlenmeyer flask. "Think you know Florida State University?" asks Dr. Greg Boebinger, director of the school's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. The spot goes on to re-educate those who perceive FSU as little more than a haven for over-age quarterbacks and unintelligible coaches. There's the 900MHz Ultra Wide Bore magnet, too! It's "an unrivaled scientific marvel that's yielding important discoveries in chemical and biomedical research," beams Boebinger.

Do damage control: A diverse group of students recites the campus creed: "At the University of Colorado, we act with honor, integrity, and accountability in … interactions with students, faculty, and staff." The honor and integrity of the school's football recruiting techniques are not mentioned.

Disclose divine nature of admissions committee: The season's most memorable institutional spot won't be playing during a bowl game. Notre Dame will introduce a new ad for the Fiesta Bowl, but the school will have a tough time encapsulating the smug Golden Domer attitude any better than it does in "Candle." A girl lights candles at her church, ostensibly for many years, until a thick letter arrives from the Notre Dame admissions office. A glance to the skies confirms just who's responsible for her shot at a "higher education." Prayer for personal triumph: It's not just for end zone celebrations anymore.

Mike DeBonis is the political columnist for Washington City Paper.