|ESPN.com: Big 12||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Mike Gundy never imagined he could be coaching in a facility that looks as nice as Boone Pickens Stadium now does.
It even has the smell of a new house -- from entering the coaches' offices to the player locker rooms and the new luxury suites.
When Gundy played at Oklahoma State in the late 1980s, his school admittedly had some of the worst facilities of the old Big Eight Conference at Lewis Field. Finding a place to eat at lunchtime with his teammates at their training center was a special challenge.
"We used to find a place to get a hamburger and look to bring it back here, there just wasn't much here," Gundy said as he surveyed the Cowboys' gleaming new cafeteria inside the renovated stadium.
"This is a huge change."
That might be one of the biggest understatements in recent college football history.
Gundy is coaching at arguably the most exhilarating period in the school's athletic history with a $283 million renovation of the school's football facilities finally finishing up.
He's got the kind of tools and trinkets he could only dream of during his career as a player.
"It's very exciting," Gundy said as he sat inn expansive office that looked like it should be used for an advertising executive instead of a football coach. "The coaches on our staff, other guys who have been around here, it means more to us because we've seen it the other way.
"We've been here when we were winning with close to the worst facilities in the league. Now, we're working in a building like this."
The "wow factor" for recruits begins when they walk into the stadium, which now ranks among the most striking in college football.
The Cowboys' new weight room is 7,000 square feet larger than the team's old weight room.
There are new laundry facilities, big-screen televisions and enough computers that some are still being unpacked in hallways in the coaches' offices. Mood lighting can bathe the locker room in orange light or any of 11 other patterns.
In the expansive sports medicine area, there are six new stations where players can be taped before a game, along with a full digital X-ray machine and four new hydra pools.
Before, Oklahoma State had only one hydra pool.
The locker room and team theater rooms all resemble a luxury office building.
The Oklahoma State locker room -- at least until the team breaks it in -- smells like the lobby of an upscale hotel. And with all the dark wood, shelving, silver details and gleaming toilet fixtures, the facility looks impervious to the normal wear and tear of an athletic team.
The man who paid for all of the renovations is never far away. Among the team lockers at the front of Oklahoma State locker room is for No. 1, Boone Pickens.
"I thought there was one day we would get a new facility, but nothing like this," Gundy said. "I hoped we would get a new locker room, a weight room and a coaching. But not this, not a cafeteria with massive suites. I didn't have an image it would ever be like this."
But thanks to the largesse of Pickens, Gundy now says his program can at least compete with some of the creature comforts once only found at divisional rivals like Texas and Oklahoma.
And with it, the Cowboys have hopes of possibly elbowing their way into the BCS mix as they approach the season with more expectations and the highest preseason ranking in the school's history.
It still amazes Gundy, who knows why his program is walking in high cotton as the biggest opener in school history looms less than a month away against Georgia on Sept. 5.
"I never thought it could be like this because it took too much money," Gundy said. "Who's going to give $200 million? How do you build a facility like this?
"We were fortunate enough to be able to do this because the A&M basketball coach cut Boone Pickens and he ended up at Oklahoma State. None of this would have happened without him."