The New York Times reports that the Columbia football program is giving its fans access to the team like never before.

Starting this season, the Lions are doing their Friday walk-throughs on a lawn on the school’s Manhattan campus.

Columbia coach Al Bagnoli, who is new to the Lions this year after spending the past 23 seasons coaching at Pennsylvania, came up with the idea in part because the lawn near Butler library is a shorter commute for his players than the team’s training facility. Another benefit: It's helping the team better connect with the school’s students.

From Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times:

The two lawns, bisected by a pathway leading to Butler’s entrance, measure about 80 feet by 40 feet each, big enough to support the team as it walks through its plays (only those players who are dressing for Saturday’s game get to participate). Bagnoli, like most coaches, uses Friday simply as an opportunity to go over last-minute personnel looks and review the scheme. The players wear T-shirts and shorts, no helmets or cleats.

“The students really don’t get a chance to see them up close and personal,” Bagnoli said. “Just to get them down there in Columbia T-shirts and shorts, it’s positive.”

What a cool idea to drum up fan interest. Other schools might want to take note.