Barker has approached the Washington State University athletic department with an unconfirmed offer of $12.5 million to secure the naming rights of the Martin gridiron through the 2012 football season. His moniker of choice: The Mike Price Field.
"Can you think of a more appropriate name?" Barker asked a recent gathering of the North Idaho Cougar Club. "After all he's done for our university, I want to honor him up right."
According to sources within the athletic department, the self-made millionaire is less than pleased his idea to honor the current Alabama coach is meeting resistance among other Cougar alums who think it's far too early to honor Price in such a grand fashion. But the dollar amount of his offer may leave the administration with no choice but to say "yes."
"I thought about other Cougar coaches, Lone Star (Dietz) and Babe (Hollingbery), but unlike those guys, Mike is alive which makes him a perfect choice," Barker said.
Barker, a native of Sandpoint, Idaho, is the CEO of Blue Earth Deer Whistles, Inc., a manufacturer of air-velocity and electronic deer avoidance systems that attach to an automobile's bumper.
His initial plan called for Price to be flown to Pullman and the field to be officially dedicated prior to a Cougar football game. But WSU will be playing USC in Los Angeles during Alabama's only bye-week. Still, Barker hopes to dedicate the field via remote video feed with Price on the Martin Stadium screen, preferably before the October 4 Homecoming game with Arizona.
"I just have to get the time-zone thing figured out," he said. "I had a notion Mike could fly out here after a Bama game on that speedy little Bear Bryant jet, but I don't think folks much care to see that bird around these parts again!"
Preliminary drawings call for the words "The Mike Price Field," to be centered at midfield, facing both sidelines. In addition, his company's logo, a screaming deer's head, would be placed on the twenty-yard lines, but on a smaller scale than the field name.
Washington State is expected to make a decision on his proposal by June. Barker doesn't think it will take that long.
"It's a no-brainer," he said. "For the right price, I can name my Price!"