15 Best Indoor Facilities in College Football
The big-bucks world of Power Five college football is most evident in the facilities programs use, from the massive on-campus stadiums to the team complexes with all the latest bells and whistles.
With spring practice getting underway for many teams this month, one of the best luxuries a college football team can have at this time of year is a state-of-the-art indoor facility.
Thanks to these facilities, extreme heat or precipitation won't be able to stop teams from getting all the work they want done in these crucial spring practices. Rest and recovery before and after these practices in attached football complexes are becoming just as important for players and coaches, too.
Let's take a look at 15 of the finest indoor facilities in college football, based on the size, price, specifications, amenities, dates of the facilities' openings and latest renovations.
The SEC—which will have all 14 teams with indoor facilities when Georgia opens its $30.1 million one next year—is still the king of indoor facilities, but other powerhouses and a few rising programs across the country can boast top-of-the-line practice areas as well.
Name: Hank Crisp Indoor Facility
Alabama is the gold standard on the field and the recruiting trail in college football, and that excellence has carried over into the Tide's indoor facilities under Nick Saban. The Hank Crisp Indoor Facility underwent a major renovation in the summer of 2009—right before the first national championship season under Saban.
After the renovation, Alabama had a practice field measuring more than 130 yards in length, which made it the largest football practice facility under one roof in college football at the time. According to the program's website, the entirely heated and cooled facility also has a Wavecam system, which gives coaches unique vantage points in practice film study that is similar to Skycams in stadiums.
Pair the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility with Alabama's state-of-the-art football building, which includes everything from a loaded players' lounge to the now-famous waterfalls in a hydrotherapy room, and one can see why Alabama continues to be one of the best programs in the country year in and year out.
Name: Multipurpose Indoor Practice Facility
Not to be completely outdone by its in-state rival, Auburn opened up its own indoor practice facility a couple of years after Alabama's renovation. Like the Tide, the news of the facility turned into great success on the field—the Tigers won the national championship a few months after the department announced the plans.
Auburn's indoor facility doesn't sport the name of a wealthy donor, but it does feature plenty of the great names in Tigers history along its walls. On the outside of the full-sized practice field, Auburn has banners commemorating the program's best teams, coaches and award-winning players.
The 92,000-square-foot facility features plenty of windows, too, giving more natural light instead of the bulb-heavy lighting that is typically found in indoor facilities. Rain or shine, the Tigers have plenty of room to operate for head coach Gus Malzahn's famous fast-paced practices.
Name: Clemson Football Indoor Practice Facility
Clemson football has taken a huge step forward in the last few seasons under head coach Dabo Swinney, and the Tigers' rise to ACC and national title contenders has coincided with their major upgrade in the facilities department. In 2012, Clemson hit its new indoor practice facility for the first time, in preparation for its Chick-fil-A Bowl thriller over LSU.
"Whatever the final price tag on the building was, it's not even close to what it would have cost to have a three-and-a-half-hour infomercial for Clemson University in front of millions and millions of people who get to watch it," Swinney said in 2013, referring to the win over LSU.
Clemson's overall facilities are set to take another step forward, as the 80,000-square-foot practice venue will be next door to the $55 million football training complex that is set to open in February 2017, per NCAA.com. The new complex will feature an incredible number of amenities, from mini golf and laser tag to a replica of Howard's Rock and a beach volleyball pit.
Name: Champions Center Indoor Practice Facility
The current state of Colorado football doesn't make one think "best of the best," but the Buffaloes' brand-new indoor facility could make a serious claim to being tops in college football right now. Colorado's indoor practice facility is a cornerstone of the new Champions Center, a $156 million project that is already paying major dividends for the football program.
"I see every facility in the country because of my job. I mean every new facility—Alabama, Texas, Oregon, USC, Arizona—you name it," Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt told the program's website. "I can tell you that CU’s facilities are in top 10 in the nation if not the top five. When it comes to functionality and what it means for athletes, it’s definitely in the top five. It has everything—everything—student-athletes need."
In February, Colorado took the field in the 120,000-square-foot practice facility for the first time. The adjacent Champions Center features sparkling new areas for sports medicine, strength training, player lounging and more. The visuals of the entire complex are quite impressive.
Name: Indoor Practice Facility
When you play in a stadium known as "The Swamp" on Saturdays, weather and overwhelming heat can be an issue. Fortunately, though, Florida now has an indoor practice facility, where it can avoid the elements and still get to work on the field.
Florida opened the doors to its new indoor facility right before last season—its first under head coach Jim McElwain—and the Gators went on to win 10 games and the SEC East division title. The facility will continue to be a major selling point in the high-stakes world of recruiting, especially in the talent-rich Sunshine State.
The facility doesn't have a name other than the "Indoor Practice Facility," but the 130-yard FieldTurf playing surface is called the "Gary D. Condron Field." The fairly new 87,000-square-foot facility is one of the best in the country, and it has been a big step for a program aiming to get back to national championship contention.
Name: Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility
Florida State opened the doors to its new $13 million indoor practice facility, named after $5 million donor Albert J. Dunlap, in 2013. Later that year, Florida State completed an undefeated season and won the final BCS National Championship.
At 92,000 square feet, the Dunlap Athletic Training Facility is one of the biggest in the entire country. The 120-yard artificial turf field is a replica of Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium, complete with matching end zone art.
The project to build the training facility also updated the outdoor fields surrounding the complex, which gives FSU three full-sized fields for practice and a top-of-the-line setup for filming practices. No matter what Florida weather throws the Seminoles' way, they can still take the practice field without missing a single beat.
Name: Al Glick Field House
Michigan Stadium is the biggest college football stadium in the entire country and the second-biggest sports venue on the planet, so it only makes sense that the Wolverines' indoor practice facility is monstrous. In 2009, Michigan started practicing in the Al Glick Field House, which is approximately 104,049 square feet.
When the Field House opened, Michigan became one of only two football programs in the entire country with two completely indoor practice fields. The Wolverines renovated their outdoor fields, too, during the Field House project, adding even more to the monumental scope of the entire facility.
The $26.1 million project also renovated Michigan's weight room and locker room seven years ago. According to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, new head coach Jim Harbaugh announced a fundraising plan last month to update both areas again. Together, Michigan's massive football facilities will continue to be some of the best around.
Name: Woody Hayes Athletic Center
While powerhouse programs across the country are starting to get indoor practice facilities for the first time, those luxuries are nothing new for Ohio State. The Buckeyes opened the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in 1987, and they last renovated it in 2014—just before their run to the College Football Playoff National Championship.
According to Aaron Yerian of the Lantern, the Athletic Center renovations were part of a larger $45 million project. The facility received a new turf field and a brand-new locker room, which included plenty of televisions and, yes, a waterfall of Ohio State's own.
Ohio State continues to be one of the front-runners in facilities, and the many updates to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center over the years make it the envy of plenty of programs in college football. At 78,000 square feet, it's far from the biggest, but it's definitely one of the best.
Name: Sherman E. Smith Training Center
Oklahoma State's most famous booster, T. Boone Pickens, has given hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the athletic facilities at his alma mater. The family of one of Pickens' former business partners, Sherman Smith, joined in the action by donating $20 million toward the construction and maintenance of OSU's own indoor football facility.
"[Smith and Pickens] shared the same birthday, were in the same fraternity and had a business relationship," Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder said, per the school's website. "It's fitting that two of the most important structures for OSU Athletics are across the street from each other and bear the names of Sherman Smith and Boone Pickens."
Opened in 2013, the Sherman E. Smith Training Center spans 92,000 square feet and features one full-sized indoor practice field to go along with three outdoor ones. The training center is spacious and bright on the inside, which eliminates the cramped feeling that some indoor practice facilities have.
Name: Manning Center
Ole Miss has been able to keep up with the top programs in the SEC West in the tenure of head coach Hugh Freeze, and 2014's renovation of the newly renamed Manning Center has played a big part in the program's success both on and off the field.
The Rebels moved into the indoor practice facility in 2004, but the entire complex received massive renovations and a new name by the time it was reopened early in 2014. The facility, named after Ole Miss legend Archie Manning and his wife Olivia, now has an expanded indoor practice field, weight room, locker room, players' lounge and team offices.
The updated facility has already paid huge dividends for Ole Miss, which went to back-to-back "New Year's Six" bowl games in 2014 and 2015 and recently signed the nation's No. 6 recruiting class, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.
Name: Moshofsky Center
When most people think of Oregon's football facilities, they think of the ultra-high-tech Hatfield Dowlin Complex—the building that includes a giant combination of 64 flat-screen televisions, a futuristic-looking locker room and a hot tub just for the coaching staff. (The virtual tour on Oregon's website is complete with background music that wouldn't be out of place in a sci-fi movie.)
But when it comes to the place where the Ducks actually practice, the Moshofsky Center has plenty of its own bells and whistles. When it opened in 1998, the center was the first of its kind in what was then known as the Pac-10 Conference. It received renovations of its own when the Hatfield Dowlin Complex was completed in 2013.
The 117,000-square-foot facility cost close to $15 million almost two decades ago, and it's still one of the standard-bearers for indoor practice areas in college football. And on Saturdays when the Ducks turn their attention to Autzen Stadium, the Moshofsky Center turns into one of the biggest indoor tailgates in the nation.
Name: Ensley Athletic Center
Syracuse is building toward a brighter future in football with new coach Dino Babers, and the former Bowling Green head man is inheriting an ideal facilities situation with the Orange. The athletic department opened the Ensley Athletic Center, an 87,000-square-foot, $14 million multipurpose indoor facility, in January 2015.
The facility is named for Cliff Ensley, a former football walk-on who starred in three sports for the school in the late 1960s. Practicing indoors on a full-sized field is especially important for Syracuse, which plays its games in the Carrier Dome. The domed ceiling is high enough to allow for all types of kicking and passing practices, and it's complete with a unique lighting system.
"Hopefully, this is a transforming athletic facility," Ensley told Renee Kiriluk-Hill of NJ.com last year. "Hopefully, it will help with their recruiting."
Name: Neyland-Thompson Sports Center
Like Michigan, Tennessee lays claim to one of the biggest stadiums in college football and one of the biggest indoor practice facilities, too. The Neyland-Thompson Sports Center was built in 1989 at a cost of $11 million, and it underwent important renovations in 2010.
The two-story, 120,000-square-foot facility features a 120-yard turf field, a high roof that is conducive to all types of drills and multiple observation decks. The older indoor practice area is still one of the best around, but what takes the facility to the next level is the adjoining Anderson Training Center, which was opened in 2013.
Tennessee moved its meeting and coaches' rooms to the 145,000-square-foot building, which connects directly to the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center and the Volunteers' outdoor practice fields. The Anderson Training Center also includes a players' lounge, hydrotherapy room, spacious locker room and a 22,000-square-foot weight room.
Name: McFerrin Athletic Center
Texas A&M has the combination of the big money that is usually thrown around both football in the Lone Star State and also the SEC, which makes the Aggies' facilities some of the best in the nation. In 2007, Texas A&M opened the McFerrin Athletic Center, a 75,636-square-foot facility that is completely air-conditioned to help the Aggies get out of the sweltering summertime heat.
With an 80-foot ceiling, the Aggies can hit the McFerrin Athletic Center and not have to change a single thing in practices. The athletic center is also attached to the sparkling Bright Football Complex, which was completely rebuilt during the renovations going on at Kyle Field.
The $20.8 million football complex is simply stunning, complete with a hydrotherapy room lined with HDTVs, a barber shop lounge for players and personalized LED screens at each high-tech locker. Whenever the Aggies are indoors, they are surrounded by some of the best perks in football.
Name: Indoor Practice Facility
Virginia Tech went all out with its Indoor Practice Facility, which opened last year—Frank Beamer's last with the Hokies. The facility's 92,000-square-foot size is already one of the biggest in college football, but the ceiling pushes it into new territory for programs across the country.
According to Doug Samuels of Football Scoop, Beamer's brand of special teams excellence was built "with basically one hand tied behind his back" because VT's older indoor facility had a low ceiling and not enough space on the sidelines. That's no longer the case. The height from the full-sized playing surface to the apex of the ceiling trusses spans 86 feet, which is more than enough room for any type of drill.
Now the Indoor Practice Facility is the domain of new head coach Justin Fuente, who will look to continue Beamer's legacy and push the Hokies into championship contention again. The indoor facility will allow him to do whatever he wants on the practice field in Blacksburg, rain or shine.
Justin Ferguson is a National College Football Analyst at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.