8 College Football Teams with the Coolest Facilities
The competition on the field in college football is nothing compared to the battle being waged between schools to have the country's best facilities.
Across the land, the so-called "arms race" that involves near-constant advances and improvements in locker rooms, training facilities and practice complexes—not to mention the stadiums themselves—has made it so the games themselves seem inconsequential. That's not really the case, considering how much money is spent on recruiting budgets and coaching salaries, but it's still a huge part of the overall picture.
And just like those areas, the facilities game isn't played on a level playing field. Some schools simply have more money (read: donations) to work with, and thus are able to build bigger, better and cooler complexes.
Here's our list of some of the teams with most awe-inspiring college football facilities for 2015.
As if Alabama needs any help bringing in recruits to Tuscaloosa, its training facilities are apt to convince any on-the-fence prospect that this is where they belong.
Few things say cool more than a 40-foot-long hydrotherapy pool that is replenished by a series of waterfalls. The Crimson Tide have two of those in the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility, which has been remodeled twice since 2005.
Other amenities of note include swanky lockers that feature two power plugs inside of each player's lockbox, as well as an enormous weight room that looks out over the indoor practice field.
As long as you can get past the looming image of a giant 'N' in the locker room, there's not much to gripe about with Nebraska's football amenities. They're not necessarily the most advanced in the country, but the Cornhuskers have managed to still make it cool to be in the Midwest.
The locker room's dominant wood paneling is a recurring theme throughout the facilities, giving it a feel of a long ago era that fits perfectly with Nebraska's rich tradition. The players' lounge, complete with pool and shuffleboard tables, looks like something you'd find in a posh country club.
But there's plenty of modernity to go with this old-school feel, such as the ventilation system that "pulls air through and out of the locker," according to the school's website. So no matter how good or bad the team might perform on the field, there won't be any stinkiness coming from those lockers.
Something doesn't have to be new to be cool. Just look at Notre Dame, which has done plenty of upgrades to its facilities over the years—including an ongoing $400 million upgrade to Notre Dame Stadium—but still has managed to keep itself looking like it did back in its glory days. Or for those of you who weren't around back then, like it did in the movie Rudy.
The Guglielmo Athletics Complex, which opened in 2005, is a combination of old and new on the inside while adhering to the school's architecture on the exterior. This isn't a sleek, gleaming pile of steel and glass but rather a brick and stone building that saves its flash for inside.
Notre Dame continues to make the efforts to stay on pace with other football powers in the spending game, but it remains tied to its roots with the facilities' appearance.
Oklahoma State's cool factor can be summed up in one phrase: Shower heads worth $42,000.
That's how much was spent on 60 shower heads inside the locker room at T. Boone Pickens Stadium, according to Michael Ventre of NBC Sports. Director of football operations Mack Butler told Ventre that Pickens, the billionaire oil magnate who is also the school's biggest benefactor, identified a particular type of shower head that stood out from the rest and insisted those be available to players.
It's more than just great water pressure that makes the football facilities in Stillwater stand out. There's also the $19 million Sherman E. Smith Training Center that opened in 2013, which includes one indoor practice field and three more outdoor fields.
There's fancy, and then there's Oregon. Much like the Nike-backed school always gets all the coolest equipment and attire before anyone else, the same can be said for the bells and whistles its players have at their disposal.
The Football Performance Center, one of the few buildings at the school that doesn't have Nike founder Phil Knight's family name on it, opened in 2013 at a price of $68 million.
Hand-woven rugs, space station-like locker rooms and even an old-school barber shop are just some of the highlights of this 145,000-square-foot facility that Kevin Flaherty of 247Sports wrote "looks like what you would build if you were preparing a team full of Batmans and needed to build a really big Batcave."
Tennessee has made great strides on the field in the last two years under head coach Butch Jones, but the work to remain in the arms race had been going on long before the Volunteers lured Jones away from Cincinnati.
The $45 million Anderson Training Center opened in April 2013 when Jones was wrapping up his first spring practice but before coaching a game in Knoxville. This 145,000-square-foot facility gave him an instant boost in his rebuilding project, because the complex had everything he needed to help build great players. This includes an enormous, two-story weight room that is described on a virtual tour video as "multi-level Thunderdome of power."
It's no wonder Jones has managed to bring in some amazing recruiting classes so early in his tenure.
Texas A&M's move from the Big 12 didn't just involve upgrading its level of competition—it also included a huge push to have SEC-like facilities. And in many ways, the Aggies have outdone the rest in the league.
More than $20 million worth of renovations to the Bright Football Complex have made this already swanky facility look like something out of a sci-fi movie, complete with frameless LED screens above each locker that display "daily motivational content."
The biggest boost in A&M's facilities has come to its football stadium itself: Kyle Field is in the process of a $450 million project that will boost capacity from 82,600 to an SEC-best 102,512.
One of the newest athletic facilities in college football is also one of the coolest. USC's John McKay Center spared no expense in making the most of its $70 million price tag since it opened in 2012.
Some highlights include a 30-yard underground practice field that spills right into the weight room, making it possible to include some curls as part of a touchdown dance, as well as a two-story video wall that is "the equivalent of 278 15-inch flat-screen TVs" (per Michael Lev of the Orange County Register) and can be used for video game play.
While rival UCLA has won the last three meetings on the field, this complex helps keep USC ahead of the Bruins in the battle for Los Angeles-area facility supremacy. However, UCLA is set to begin construction of the Wasserman Football Center this fall.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.