Some extra nuggets that didn't make our deep dive into the football-only facilities that have become a key part of the college sports arms race:
- Florida State coach Willie Taggart had one of the biggest and shiniest at Oregon but doesn’t have one (yet?) in Tallahassee. I asked him how the Ducks’ facility changed what he did on a practical level.
"Just really efficient," Taggart said. "For me, the coaches, the players – the student-athletes – get to train in the best. That's what they all want. I think we all want that for the student-athletes – for them to train (in) the best."
- The hyper-focus on functionality includes small things I never would have expected. The craziest example I heard: The video equipment in a coach’s office.
Obviously coaches need to be able to watch film there. That means the equipment has to be easy to use for a 55-year-old man who might not be tech-savvy. But it also has to be workable for an 7-year-old.
Why? Because a coach's family usually hangs out around his office on game days. When a coach's child gets bored, he or she might want to pop in a DVD of, say, The Incredibles.
"It has to be able to work so that his kid who's 7 can watch a DVD and operate the system as well," said Jeff Volk, who worked on facilities at Kansas State and Kentucky as the vice president of Alpha Video Sports & Entertainment Group. "There's all kinds of things you never even imagine that absolutely come into play."
- Another theme of these projects is how one coach/school will want to outdo the next one.
"They want something nobody else has," said Michael McClurg, the president of the graphics and branding firm Forty Nine Degrees. "You're constantly trying to find the next big thing."
One of the next big things is virtual reality/3D. It hasn't shown up a lot yet because the technology isn't there or it's too expensive, but that's a space to watch in the coming years.
- The facilities really do differ from school to school. Oregon’s facility looks cutting-edge. The Gators’ building will reflect the architecture of the rest of campus.
Space limitations affect a lot, too. Clemson could build a basketball court and mini-golf course because it has lots of available room. UF and FSU don't; the Gators are building a new baseball stadium in part because it will make room for the new football complex.
- This shouldn’t be a surprise, but players love their new facilities. Take it from Clemson offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, who spoke to our Joey Knight at ACC media days: “Compared to when I first got here, when we were in the west end zone…it was nice, but it just didn’t feel like home. I didn’t want to be there constantly. Sometimes I felt uncomfortable, especially during camp with so many people in there…and I almost wanted to be at home. But with this new facility, completely different, different atmosphere. I don’t mind being there. I’ll go there and just stay there all day if I need to. It’s just a lot more homey, and there’s a lot more to do to keep me busy if I need it.”