Thursday, June 14, 2012
Ranking Pac-12 football facilities
Our assigned task today is darn near impossible: Ranking Pac-12 football facilities. Not just stadiums but also locker room, weight room and practice facilities.
In any event, ranking facilities in the conference would be difficult. For one, I haven't had a thorough tour of all Pac-12 facilities. And when I've been wandering around -- probably lost -- I haven't recorded detailed notes. Further, there is a lot of apples and oranges with this. How important is stadium size? And do, say, UCLA and USC get docked for not having an indoor facility? In Southern California?
But there is an even bigger reason Pac-12 facilities are difficult to rank: So many programs are using their new Pac-12 TV money to build new buildings and renovate their stadiums. How does one account for the renovation of Husky Stadium? I've seen the work at California's Memorial Stadium but it wasn't finished. And what about all the new buildings, like the ones at USC, Utah and Arizona?
I exchanged texts with a handful of experienced Pac-12 football writers about this, and there was little unanimity about the rankings.
So here's my general methodology: 1. Stadium gets first priority; 2. This projects forward most renovations; 3. Yes, for better or worse, bigger -- and fancier -- is better.
Anyway, here goes nothing.
1. Oregon: The Ducks' football facilities are among the best in the nation. And a new football operations building will make things even more outrageously impressive.
2. USC: The Coliseum is the biggest and most famous Pac-12 stadium. But the new, super-fancy John McKay Center, a 110,000-square foot facility that will house the USC football program as well as all athletic department academic and training support, is a game-changer for a program that long lagged on facilities.
3. Washington: The Huskies have been upgrading football facilities for years, but the big one is the renovation of decrepit Husky Stadium. Pair a great stadium with an unbelievable location and you could end up with one of the nation's best game-day experiences.
4. California: Across-the-board upgrades have seen Cal go from just about worst to first over the past five or six years. Strawberry Canyon has long been a great place to put a stadium. Now renovated Memorial Stadium will be as fancy-pants as its site is beautiful.
5. Stanford: Strong in just about every area as well as a well-executed stadium renovation before the 2006 season.
6. UCLA: The good: The Rose Bowl is a great, though off-campus, venue. And it's getting renovated, too. The bad: An 80-yard practice field.
7. Colorado: Great stadium and solid overall facilities. Still, things are a bit cramped and the Buffs could use an indoor facility.
8. Arizona State: If the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium happens -- it's only in the earliest stages of fundraising -- the program will make a leap into the top three or four. Arizona State lacks nothing in terms of facilities, but nothing blows you away (though the weight room is pretty impressive).
9. Utah: A new football building will bolster the Utes' facilities, addressing a long-standing issue. Overall, Utah has good, well-maintained facilities across the board.
10. Arizona: Good stadium and the North End zone project will make it better -- probably boosting the ranking here several notches. But there is a reason Mike Stoops took a shot at the program's football facilities a few months after he left.
11. Oregon State: The Beavers really lack nothing. Other than bells and whistles. But those count here.
12. Washington State: The Martin Stadium renovation will give the Cougars a substantial upgrade. And, not unlike the Beavers, the Cougs aren't lacking anything they need. Further good news is athletic director Bill Moos was the guy leading the charge at Oregon, when the age of bells and whistles began in the conference.