Let’s talk about the latest arms race in college football, facilities. Each year, more and more schools are unveiling plans for over-the-top renovations to their athletic facilities in an effort to attract more high-profile talent to their programs. So how does the Big 12 stack up?
Scott Roussel from Footballscoop.com has embarked on his annual road trip, “The FootballScoop Spring Tour“. This time he has Zach Barnett along for the ride as they stop at a handful of schools, and tour their facilities. They’re itinerary includes a few Big 12 schools this year, so we’ll highlight their trip around the conference. The pair have already visited the Cowboys, and the trip to Stillwater didn’t disappoint.
Will have a recap later but man the facilities at Oklahoma State are incredibly impressive #DifferentLevel
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) March 10, 2015
The pair actually visited both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in back to back days, and they compared their visits in a short podcast. You should definitely give it a listen. We’ll talk about the Sooner’s facilities in a later post, but for now we’ll focus on the Cowboys.
“Oklahoma State, I mean you come away.. The facilities are absolutely amazing. I mean they are, you know, the best of the best.” Scott said about the visit on their podcast. “A couple of the new facilities in the SEC probably rival them, but there ain’t much better. I mean, Oregon has amazing facilities as well, but I was wowed there.”
It wasn’t always so nice for the Pokes. The stadium, known as Lewis Field back then, was built in 1920, and is nearly a century old. There have been renovations since, but the rust was showing. A $260 million renovation completed in 2009 changed the game for the Cowboys, and made Boone Pickens Stadium what you see today.
There were a few things, okay many things, Sean and Zach were impressed with in particular. One of which was the training table.
Oklahoma State has the nicest training table I’ve ever seen. pic.twitter.com/vJpC4MVznE
— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) March 10, 2015
“The training table, it’s all sports. We had dinner up there, and soccer team, basketball team. They were all in there. A lot of camaraderie.”, Sean said. “The food was fantastic. All three of us, we all had different things, and we all said ours was the best.”
When someone tours Boone Pickens Stadium for the first time a common phrase pops up, ‘They’ve thought of everything’. Sean and Zach fell into that trap, but to be fair, it’s hard not to be impressed. Even the coaches’ offices are on point.
“You open the windows, and it’s like you have your own porch to Boone Pickens Stadium. The families sit right in front of their husbands office. They really thought of everything there.” Zach said. “The coaches’ offices, literally, are probably the best in college football.” Sean replied.
While they toured the offices, Zach noticed a picture taped to the wall, and it’s incredible.
It’s as if former Texas Head Coach Mack Brown was watching Justin Gilbert run off with his coaching career. One play didn’t do Mack in, but the
writing picture was certainly on the wall by that point.
Nothing was left untouched by the renovation. The Cowboys have one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country in Rob Glass, and they made sure he had an office to suit his reputation. The football weight room is absolutely massive. It’s 25,000 square feet, and features 16 benches and inclines, 16 olympic platforms, and 150 training stations in total. There’s even a track inside the weight room! The Oklahoma State locker room also stood out to Sean and Zach. Not because of the pomp and polish, there’s plenty of that though, but because of its fundamental design. It’s not just a locker room. It’s the player’s lounge too.
“One of the things we liked the most is that the locker room, there’s no player’s lounge, because the locker room is the players’ lounge. It encourages guys hanging out with each other that may not hang out with each other otherwise.” Zach said.
That’s not an accident either. Year in and year out, Mike Gundy talks about how well the team gets along with each other, and how important it is to how they come together on the field. That’s part of what made the 2011 team so special. Gundy wants his team to come together as a family, and that means everyone’s contribution should be recognized.
Construction on an incredible indoor practice facility was completed in the summer of 2013. It’s over 90,000 square feet and is one of the few indoor practice facilities in the country to feature a full-sized field. The complex also features three fields outside as well. One for each playing surface the Cowboys could potentially be playing on.
The Cowboys aren’t done either. When Alabama unveiled their new facilities everyone was talking about the barber shop built right in. In a case of keeping up with the Joneses, rumor has it Oklahoma State will be adding their own.
The Cowboys have one of the best facilities in not just the Big 12, but the country. Sean summed it up nicely in the podcast.
“You can understand why a player get’s here and goes, ‘Ya, this is, this is wow. This is way better than a lot of other options in the Big 12.”
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly mentioned that the indoor practice facility has a heat and air system. The article has since been updated.
– Cover Photo Credit: Boone Pickens Stadium | Rough Tough, Real Stuff | Flickr