- Heather Dinich, College Football Reporter
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Image is everything -- especially to a 17-year-old recruit who is easily swayed by the glitz of trophy cases, first-class weight rooms and modern locker rooms. Today ESPN.com is ranking the best facilities in each conference, including stadiums, locker rooms, practice facilities, etc. We’re talking total package here, guys, not just a ranking of the stadiums. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but some schools clearly have poured more money into their programs than others:
1. NC State: The four-floor, 103,254-square foot Murphy Center is the largest operations facility in the country dedicated to football, according to the university. It’s home to the Pack’s sports medicine, equipment, academics, and strength and conditioning.
2. Florida State: The Noles have a 15,000-square-foot training facility, a lifting area of 14,000 square feet, and a locker room that recently underwent renovations that cost more than $2 million. And of course, Doak S. Campbell Stadium has been home to one of college football’s most storied programs.
3. Clemson: Memorial Stadium (81,500) is one of the most impressive venues in college football, and the strength training facility is two floors and includes the latest equipment, nine flat-screen TVs and a new sound system.
4. North Carolina: In 2011, Carolina opened the 150,000-square foot Loudermilk Center for Excellence and a premium seating section, the Blue Zone. The five-floor Kenan Football Center was completed in 1997 and includes the UNC locker room, weight room, training room, equipment room, players lounge, computer labs and study areas, 100-plus seat auditorium, coaches offices, theater and Hall of Honor.
5. Virginia: The Hoos can take pride in their $86 million renovation of the Carl Smith Center. They’ve also recently installed FieldTurf on two practice fields adjacent to the McCue Center, which features an 8,000-square foot weight facility and a 7,000-square foot training clinic. The program has plans for a 78,000-square foot indoor practice facility.
6. Georgia Tech: The four-story, $7 million Arthur B. Edge, Jr., Intercollegiate Athletics Center opened in 1982, and contains more than 65,000 square feet of space and houses Tech's entire athletics program, including administrative offices, the Hearn Academic Center, locker rooms, training room, dining hall, equipment room, plus a number of other facilities. The Jackets also recently added a new indoor practice facility.
7. Virginia Tech: Lane Stadium is one of the best in the ACC and the 40,000-square-foot Merryman Center is a $10.6 million multipurpose facility. There are nine position meeting rooms, a 130-seat auditorium, and a 22-by-30-foot office for Frank Beamer with a view of the stadium.
8. Boston College: In March 2005, the Eagles moved into the $27 million, 72,000-square-foot Yawkey Athletics Center. It includes new football offices, meeting and breakout rooms, locker rooms, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, an equipment room, theater-style classrooms and player lounges.
9. Wake Forest: Deacon Tower, which opened in 2008, was a $48 million addition that included a state-of-the-art media center. It was part of a multi-phase program that has included FieldTurf, renovations of the concessions and weight room on the East Side of the stadium, and new concessions areas on the West Side.
10. Duke: In August 2002, Duke football moved into the Yoh Football Center, a $22 million, 70,000-square-foot facility located in the northeast corner of Wallace Wade Stadium. It has a speed and agility room, locker room, coaches offices, weight room, sports medicine center, position group meeting rooms, a players lounge and a memorabilia floor.
11. Miami: The Canes use the Greentree Practice Fields, which were good enough for five national title teams, and work out in an 11,500-square-foot weight room that was completed in 2001 and is more than double the size of the previous room. The Hecht Athletic Center got an $8 million facelift in 2001 that included a players lounge, an outdoor terrace overlooking the practice field, an expansion to the football equipment room; and a posh office suite for the head coach.
12. Maryland: In 2009, Maryland completed a $50.8 million stadium expansion project that included luxury suites, 440 new mezzanine-level seats, a presidential suite for 200 guests, new work areas for the media, a new team shop and a state-of-the-art scoreboard. In 2004, the Gossett Football Team House was remodeled.
Image is everything -- especially to a 17-year-old recruit who is easily swayed by the glitz of trophy cases, first-class weight rooms and modern locker rooms.