NCF Nation: 2012 Facilities rank

In the realm of college football, there is no arms race quite like the facilities arms race in the SEC.

Schools spend millions of dollars without blinking, and facilities are seemingly out of date 10 years after being built.

It’s all about keeping up with the Joneses, because you can bet that top-flight high school recruits are keeping count when they make their visits.

Below is our best effort at ranking the football facilities in the SEC, and when we say facilities, we’re including the stadium, locker room, weight room, training room, team meeting room, indoor practice complex, coaches’ offices and academic learning center into the equation. Nobody in the SEC has what you would call poor facilities.

The more a school has, the higher it ranked. We also took into account the overall presentation of the facilities -- how nice they were, how new they were and whether or not they were all self-contained to make life easier for the players.

Here goes:

1. Alabama: It was a tough call between Alabama and LSU for the top spot, but all the renovations to Bryant-Denny Stadium over the past few years gave Alabama the nod. Everything you need is right there at the Mal Moore Athletic Facility, including a full indoor practice complex. Nick Saban also said recently that a new weight room is in the works.

2. LSU: LSU’s Football Operations Center is an all-in-one complex that includes the locker room, weight room, training room, video operations center and the coaches’ offices. Built in 2006, it also has a full indoor practice field and is conveniently located right across the street from Tiger Stadium. LSU spared no expense in building this crown jewel, and the practice fields are all right there behind the center.

3. Tennessee: Not only has Neyland Stadium gotten a multi-million dollar facelift over the past few years, but the Vols are set to move into a new $45 million football facility this fall. The Vols already had an indoor practice facility, and their new digs will include everything from a mixed martial arts fighting cage, to a restaurant, to cell phone recharging stations in the players’ dressing cubicles in the locker room.

4. Georgia: A $40 million expansion and renovation of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall was completed last year, and the new facilities are as plush as any in the country. There’s not a full indoor practice facility, but a 30-yard field that allows the Bulldogs to warm up. The locker room has a commons area that features televisions, massage centers, computer stations and video game stations.

5. Auburn: The Tigers opened a new $16.5 million, 92,000-square foot indoor practice facility last fall that includes a 100-yard field. Auburn previously had a smaller building that housed a 40-yard field and could only be used for smaller workouts. The facility connects to the main athletic building and student academic center with everything centrally located for the players.

6. Florida: The Gators’ football facilities were spruced up considerably a few years ago under Urban Meyer, and everything is right there at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (The Swamp). The entrance to the football offices, complete with trophies and memorabilia, is gorgeous. There is no indoor practice facility, and the practice fields aren’t very close to the stadium.

7. Arkansas: The Hogs, who already had some of the best facilities in the league, are scheduled to move into their new $35 million football operations center prior to the 2013 season. They already have a full indoor practice facility, and Razorback Stadium has been touched up nicely over the years.

8. Ole Miss: The Rebels' all-in-one indoor practice facility is one of the more underrated ones in the country. Everything is right there, from the weight room, to the locker room, to the coaches’ offices overlooking the indoor practice field. There’s also a tunnel that takes the players into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

9. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are breaking ground on a new $25 million football complex sometime this year, and there are also plans to expand Scott Field. The $10 million Templeton Athletic Academic Center was built in 2008 and is a huge draw for recruits.

10. Missouri: A $16 million expansion and renovation project opens this summer. The new facility will measure more than 100,000 square feet, almost doubling the space in the Tigers’ old facility. The locker room will have eight 30-inch plasma high-definition televisions throughout the room.

11. Texas A&M: What the Aggies have now is first-rate, and they’re in the process of doing some renovations. When those renovations are complete, they could easily move into the top half of the league in terms of overall facilities. It’s hard to beat Kyle Field on a Saturday afternoon.

12. South Carolina: Williams-Brice Stadium is the epicenter for the Gamecocks’ facilities. The weight room is new and spacious, and the Gamecocks have also recently redone the locker room. They only have a smaller indoor practice facility, 50 yards long, and the coaches’ offices are badly in need of renovation.

13. Kentucky: The Nutter Training Facility has been Kentucky’s football home since 1987. New practice fields were added in 2005, and the complex is highlighted by a 9,000-square foot weight room. The Nutter Center also has 11 meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art video and editing room for coaches’ film, equipment and training rooms, staff and player lounges, a sprint track, sauna and Jacuzzi, an aerobics room and three racquetball courts.

14. Vanderbilt: One of second-year Vanderbilt coach James Franklin’s priorities was to upgrade the Commodores’ facilities, and he’s going to get his wish. Vanderbilt Stadium is getting a new field this season. A new locker room and team meeting room are being built at the McGugin Center, and an indoor practice facility is also on the way and will be in place by 2014.
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.
We're taking a closer look at facilities across college football today at ESPN.com, and colleague Brian Bennett wrote about the omnipresent arms race to build and renovate and upgrade. Football facilities always are a big topic in the Big Ten, especially because of their impact in recruiting, and nearly every school has either built new facilities or upgraded them in the past decade.

Now it's time to rank the facilities. I've visited all 12 campuses and have a pretty good handle on who has the best digs. These rankings consider stadium, football offices/meeting rooms, weight rooms, indoor practice fields and outdoor fields. I place the biggest emphasis on the football complexes/weight rooms because that's where coaches and players do the bulk of their work. Stadiums count for something, too, as do indoor and outdoor fields.

There aren't any awful facilities in the Big Ten, but there are definitely tiers of facilities: the top four, the next three and everyone else. Some schools are making much-needed upgrades in the near future.

1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have the total package, from a massive, iconic stadium to a stand-alone, football-only facility (Woody Hayes Athletic Center) that includes offices, meeting rooms, a weight room and memorabilia displays. They renovated their outdoor practice fields and have a decent indoor facility. Ohio State has plenty to show off for recruits.

2. Nebraska: Multiple Big Ten coaches and officials have told me how impressed they were with Nebraska's facilities after visiting Lincoln last year. A massive weight room is the highlight, but the coaches' offices, meeting rooms and locker room aren't too shabby. I love how everything is so well connected at Nebraska -- stadium to football HQ to practice facilities -- and the East stadium expansion will be another nice upgrade.

3. Michigan: It's a close call between Michigan and Penn State, but Michigan's recent upgrades to both its stadium and its indoor practice facility give it a slight edge. The Al Glick Field House might be the best indoor practice facility in the country, the weight room is impressive and the Big House upgrades have been a big hit. Schembechler Hall is the only minor drawback, but a renovation is coming.

4. Penn State: PSU has a similar setup to Ohio State, with a massive stadium and a separate, first-rate, football-only facility. The Lasch Building boasts all the amenities players need (including a massive lounge), and a revamped weight room is already a big hit with Bill O'Brien's crew. Beaver Stadium has some pluses and minuses, but Penn State's Monday-Friday facilities are terrific.

5. Michigan State: The Skandalaris Football Center took Michigan State from the second tier to the first tier, plain and simple. It's an excellent facility complete with large meeting rooms and coaches' offices, and a gorgeous lobby. The practice facilities are decent and while Spartan Stadium needs some upgrades, some are coming.

6. Iowa: Kinnick Stadium is a real treasure, one of the nation's more underrated facilities. Iowa will climb higher on this list once it completes facilities projects for a new indoor facility and football offices. The "bubble" thankfully has been deflated, and Iowa's dungeon-like football complex keeps it in the middle of the pack.

7. Illinois: Like Michigan State, Illinois would be several notches lower if these rankings were done 10 years ago. But Illinois completed a terrific stadium makeover in 2008, and made some upgrades to other areas in the north end zone. The practice facilities are middle of the pack.

8. Indiana: IU's Memorial Stadium gets a bad rap, but it's much, much better after the recent renovation. The Hoosiers have nice new coaches' offices and meeting rooms, and the weight room is new and huge. The indoor and outdoor practice fields aren't anything special, but not bad, either.

9. Minnesota: Although I'm placing more emphasis on football complexes and the like, Minnesota's sparkling newish stadium (TCF Bank) keeps it out of the basement. The Hump Dome era is mercifully over, and Minnesota hit a home run in every way with TCF Bank Stadium. The next step is obvious: upgrade the everyday facilities that lag behind most of the Big Ten.

10. Purdue: The Boilers' facilities are fine. Nothing special, but nothing that makes you cringe, either. Ross-Ade Stadium underwent a major renovation from 2001 to 2003, and some additional upgrades have been made since. The offices, meeting rooms and weight room are so-so, while the practice facilities, particularly the indoor one at the Mollenkopf Center, are solid.

11. Wisconsin: It's amazing that Wisconsin has had so much football success despite limited or outdated facilities. I'm a huge fan of Camp Randall Stadium, but Wisconsin has to use it for all outdoor practices. Every other Big Ten team has an outdoor practice field. The indoor facility is so-so, and the locker room and weight room lack sizzle you see at other Big Ten venues. The good news: Wisconsin is building an athletic performance center that could be a game-changer.

12. Northwestern: The facilities are better than they were before a mid-1990s renaissance, but Northwestern still lags behind most major-conference programs in this area. Like Wisconsin, Northwestern hasn't had a major renovation or upgrade in some time. Ryan Field is a decent venue, and a newish outdoor practice field has helped. But Northwestern needs some significant upgrades and is still waiting for approval on a facilities plan launched in October 2010.
Today, we're ranking college football's facilities across each conference, and that means it's time to take stock of the Big 12.

Here's how I'd rank the Big 12's facilities, which include a whole lot more than the stadium. Stadium size is a factor, but it goes much, much deeper. What is your locker room, weight room and practice facility like?

Let me also begin with this: No Big 12 team is painfully lacking behind the others. Every school in the league has what's needed, and nobody in the league has any truly pressing needs, save a practice facility or two. There's no huge shame in being in the league's bottom half. The difference from teams 4-10 isn't all that great. You may infer that it is, but that's not my intention. Finally, this is football facilities only.

1. Texas: The Longhorns are the Joneses. Not just in the Big 12, but in all of college football. That's life when your budget dwarfs all others across the college football landscape. New Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby called UT the "800-pound gorilla" in college athletics, but gorillas don't reach 800 pounds without state-of-the-art facilities at every corner.

2. Oklahoma State: The difference between Nos. 2 and 3 on this list is miniscule, but I see it this way: Just about everything Oklahoma has is bigger, but everything OSU has is newer and nicer. Advantage Cowboys, who are in the process of building an indoor practice facility, leaving Texas Tech as the only Big 12 team without one.

3. Oklahoma: Oklahoma doesn't have a sugar daddy like T. Boone Pickens, but when you've won as much through history as the Sooners have, you don't need one. The Sooners are in the top tier of Big 12 facilities, and like I said, you could make a case for Oklahoma at No. 2 on this list, if only for its stadium.

4. Texas Tech: Don't focus so much on the lack of an indoor practice facility. What Texas Tech does have is extremely modern but also purposely fits the rustic feel of Lubbock on the outside. Tommy Tuberville is campaigning a bit to have that indoor facility eventually built.

5. West Virginia: West Virginia's facilities for football aren't flashy, but they're solid, even if they're due for an upgrade once the Big 12 checks start rolling in. Coach Dana Holgorsen knows what Texas Tech and Oklahoma State look like, and wants WVU on that level.

6. TCU: TCU will shoot up this list by this time next year for sure. The Horned Frogs are unveiling a new $164 million upgrade to Amon G. Carter Stadium, along with a brand-new locker room that will both be ready by season's end. For now, though, the Frogs' facilities are in the middle of the Big 12 road.

7. Kansas State: Kansas State is upgrading the concourse and press box of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, but its biggest need is a place to hold visiting media postgame conferences.

8. Baylor: The biggest thing holding Baylor back is its stadium, which is old and off campus with an outdated concourse. The Bears' on-campus practice facilities, weight rooms and offices are nice, but the new on-campus, riverside stadium that's scheduled to open before the 2014 or 2015 season is a palace and would shoot Baylor up this list.

9. Iowa State: Iowa State just debuted a new JumboTron before last season, which was a great upgrade. The team is getting a new football facility as well, replacing the Jacobson Building.

10. Kansas: Want a good way to say -- intended or not -- that "We don't care enough about football?" Put a track around your football field. Kansas' facilities are nice, and like I said above, it's not all that far behind No. 4 Texas Tech, but the stadium is holding KU back.
Football facilities play a huge role on every single campus. Not only are they where players spend most of their time, but they also help attract recruits who are looking for the best of the best.

That is a big reason why there has been such an arms race when it comes to facility upgrades. Nobody wants to be caught flat-footed. Among current Big East schools, Louisville and Syracuse have made recent plans to expand and upgrade so they can keep up with everybody else.

So how do the Big East facilities rank? Since I have only been to half the campuses in my short time covering the Big East, I asked former Big East blogger Brian Bennett for an assist. These are our rankings.

1. Louisville. The Cardinals already have some pretty nice facilities, with a relatively new football stadium right on campus. Coming next is an $8 million project that will upgrade and expand the weight room, training room, locker room and include a new academic center in the football complex.

2. UConn. The Huskies have a state-of-the-art football facility, in addition to an 18,000-square foot training facility. The biggest issue is that Rentschler Field is in East Hartford, about 21 miles away from campus.

3. Rutgers. Everything is right on campus and within a short walk for Rutgers football players. The Hale Center recently underwent a $12.5 million expansion, High Point Solutions Stadium was expanded in 2009, and there is an indoor practice bubble, along with three practice fields outdoors.

t4. Pitt. It is tough to judge the Panthers. They have world-class facilities at their disposal, mostly because they share with the Steelers. So is it good they have these terrific facilities or not so good because they are not technically theirs? I have been to both Rutgers and Pitt, and give the nod to the Scarlet Knights because everything is on campus.

t4. South Florida. Most everything at USF is state-of-the-art, after the entire athletics complex recently underwent a $33.5 million face-lift. The Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center is beautiful, and USF has three practice fields side-by-side-by-side. Playing at an NFL stadium isn't ideal, but at least it's a nice one in Raymond James Stadium.

6. Syracuse. The facilities are a bit dated, so it was welcome news to hear Syracuse will undergo some major upgrades to the locker room, student-athlete lounge, cafeteria, Hall of Fame lobby and team auditorium. The Carrier Dome hasn't provided much of a home-field advantage of late.

7. Cincinnati. The Bearcats have made major strides at improving their facilities under coach Butch Jones and recently added new practice fields. Nippert Stadium is historic, but it's also old and small and in major need of upgrades.

8. Temple. The Owls are nearing a $10 million renovation of their practice facility, with an expansion of the strength and conditioning area to 10,000 square feet, along with remodeled locker rooms, coaches offices and meeting space. It was much needed, but still not quite on par with the best in the Big East.

Ranking the ACC's facilities

June, 14, 2012
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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.

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