6 College Football Teams That Desperately Need a Facilities Upgrade
In yet another area where college football programs have to fork out cash to stay competitive, facilities are big business, especially when national signing day rolls around.
Yes, what better way to dazzle a young recruit than by blowing his mind with digs that look more like MTV’s Cribs than the smelly old locker room of the past?
The clear advantage top-notch facilities give programs like Oregon, Tennessee and Oklahoma State mean that teams that haven’t made the investment are recruiting with a handicap.
It’s important to remember that like all things in college football, facilities are relative. In other words, you can’t expect Marshall to have the same caliber amenities as, say, Alabama or even Vanderbilt.
With this in mind, here’s a handful of BCS programs who need to get out their checkbooks to keep up with their specific set of the Joneses.
Though South Carolina has pumped a ton of money into its facilities since joining the SEC in 1991, it’s still using an indoor practice facility with a short, 50-yard field.
The good news is, according to Josh Kendall of GoGamecocks.com, the Board of Trustees at USC has given the nod for brand new indoor and outdoor practice facilities.
Here’s what athletic director Ray Tanner had to say:
It’s important because it’s important to our student-athletes and it’s important to our coaches in recruiting…Our (current) indoor facility is not even 100 yards long, that’s a 50-yard field, with the end zones 70 yards. We have been operating with an indoor facility that’s not even regulation…It’s something that we have been a little bit behind in. Is it a deal breaker sometimes in recruiting? I’d like to think it isn’t, but it’s important.
The outdoor facilities are due for completion in the fall of 2014, while the indoor fields will not be finished until Christmastime.
Next up for the Gamecocks is a revamp of their locker room.
Even though UCLA announced a capital campaign to raise money for a “comprehensive football training facility” in September, the Bruins remain behind in facilities in the Pac-12.
The inadequacies relative to other programs center on Spaulding Field, which features an inadequate 80-yard outdoor practice field for what is one of the up-and-coming premier football programs in the nation.
Here’s what head coach Jim Mora had to say about the Bruins’ situation, according to Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register.
Our facilities are nice…There’s nothing wrong with our facilities. But it’s like an arms race with everyone else, and we only get recruits on campus for 48 hours and you have to impress them. You want to provide an environment for your players where they can have the most success possible.
According to UCLA, the project is to be funded privately at a cost of $50 million. This means that the Bruins will have to wait until the money is raised before building gets underway.
According to the Weather Channel, the average high temperature in November in Boulder, Colo., is 54 degrees, while the low is a chilly 29.
Based on this it doesn’t make much sense that Colorado is one of the few major college programs without an indoor practice facility.
Sure, like most of the other schools on this list, the Buffaloes have announced a capital campaign and are in the process of raising money to eradicate facility deficiencies, but meanwhile they are still practicing outdoors.
According to Kyle Ringo of BuffZone.com, $10 million of the $47 million necessary to get the $142 million improvement project underway have already been raised.
Plans include a huge stadium addition, two outdoor practice facilities and the much-needed indoor home of the Colorado football program.
Like UCLA, the Buffs plan to fund their project with private and corporate donations and will also have to wait for the money to flow in before they come in from the cold.
In case you missed it, Minnesota moved into a new stadium in 2009. The state-of-the-art, on-campus facility was dubbed TCF Bank Stadium and came at a cost of a cool $288.5 million, according to CBS Minnesota.
Despite this major upgrade, the Golden Gophers’ practice facilities are still subpar when stacked up with the rest of their own conference.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune, here’s what Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo had to say:
You can make a case that they’re 12th of 12 [teams] when it comes to resources in the conference…Facilitieswise, it’s not even close.
A prospect wants to know where he’s going to go every day…Training table, for example: I often see at Minnesota they eat in the hallway, and it’s food with Bunsen burners underneath.
Minnesota is another institution with a plan in place to try and bridge the gap, this time with a $190 million plan for improvements.
But, like Christensen concludes, “that project remains in the fundraising feasibility stage.” Meaning that the Golden Gophers are a team, for the time being, blessed with a state-of-the-art stadium but stuck with “other” facilities that don’t make the grade.
Despite unveiling the new state-of-the art, $14.7 million Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence in 2013, Miami is still lagging behind the elite football facilities that dot the nation.
And remember, the Hurricanes are a team vying to be back on the national radar in a huge way.
According to a piece by Michelle Kaufman at the Miami Herald, athletic director Blake James realizes that the Schwartz Center only does so much.
We were behind with our facilities, and this doesn’t put us ahead of the competition, but on par with most schools…It’s a smart investment. It isn’t lavish or excessive, but it’s a great step.
According to an Associated Press report by Tim Reynolds via U.S. News and World Report, here’s the scoop.
The school will unveil what it calls the Football Victory Fund…It’s a $7 million project that will allow for the construction of an artificial turf practice facility, a new dining area for Miami’s 400 athletes and four cold-water recovery pools that school officials say are "necessary for the hot and humid climate of South Florida."
Though Texas Tech’s overall facilities are among the best in the Big 12, it’s one of the few big programs without an indoor practice field.
The weather in Lubbock isn’t extreme by any stretch of the imagination, but it does swing from average highs in the 90s in August, to lows of 27 in December (according to the Weather Channel).
Plus, recruits are offered plusher accommodations in relatively nearby Stillwater, Norman, Fort Worth, Austin and even Waco.
An indoor facility was a priority of former Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, to the point of plans being drawn up. Despite this, no money has been raised for the project.
According to Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, new coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t see it as a make-or-break improvement, a view which mirrors former coach Mike Leach’s opinion.
Here’s Kingsbury’s take:
We’ve practiced out here a long time without one…We’ll make do with what we have...We’ve won a lot of games here practicing outside and we play outside…
Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt seems keener on the idea but wants to take it slow, according to Williams.
[W]e want to make sure we develop the best possible long-term plan and long-term project for the program. We want to make sure when we do it, we do it right. I think we both [he and Kingsbury] agree strongly on that: that when we do it, it needs to be done correctly and not be something we rush to see how fast we can put it up.