Right away two things were clear to Scott Roussel and Zach Barnett when the pair toured Texas’ facilities as part of their FootballScoop.com Spring Tour. First, the Longhorns facilities are aging. They’re obviously not lacking for anything, but they aren’t “gonna really blow you away” either. Second, what they lack in polish, they make up for in spades with prestige.
“It’s a lot like Oklahoma,” Barnett said about his trip to Austin. “The amount of history, the amount of name-brand players this program has had is staggering. But also like Oklahoma, the facilities aren’t gonna really blow you away. They don’t want for anything, but they’re not going to wow you like an Oklahoma State or an Oregon. So much of what sells UT football isn’t UT football — it’s the University of Texas. It’s Austin.”
When you start talking college football elite, Texas is the pinnacle of prestige. Sure schools like USC, Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, and Notre Dame have had more success on the field as of late, but Texas still sits atop the throne. When it comes to money and resources, nobody has what Texas has, and nobody makes what Texas makes.
DKR. The Noah’s Ark of stadiums. pic.twitter.com/AqCfTG6BFe
— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) March 12, 2015
Zach said it best, Darrel K Royal Stadium is the Noah’s ark of stadiums. It can pack in over 101,000 fans, and on game day, it’s simply impressive. As grand as the Longhorn facilities are though, they’re definitely starting to show their age. The team meeting rooms looks more like a small midwest convention center than the grand rooms with luxury seating, special lighting, and large screens that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing at other schools.
There have been a few renovations over the last few years though. In 2011 the locker room received a makeover when wide lockers, a nutrition bar, and a lounge area were added.
There’s just no getting around it though, the Longhorns’ facilities lack the over-the-top pomp and polish that’s in Stillwater. However, there’s something to be said for being able to walk in the footsteps of greatness. There’s an allure to being able to sit in a meeting room or workout on a bench, and think, ‘this is where all-time greats like Vince Young and Derrick Johnson trained and prepared’. Something else that stood out to Scott and Zach it’s something that’s entirely underrated today. Academics.
“One thing that separated Texas from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that I think will resonate with certain parents is that they do a better job of touting the academic success they’ve had,” Barnett said. “They’ve had two Campbell Trophy winners — the academic Heisman — in recent years. I credit Mack Brown for that because academics was one of his major initiatives.”
It’s unfortunate that academics isn’t the first and foremost recruiting tool in country, but, as Wescott Eberts with Burnt Orange Nation points out, it’s nice to see it will continue to be a focus under Charlie Strong.
“If a young man is coming here for a facility he’s coming here for the wrong reason,” Charlie Strong said. “I want him to come here because he loves the University of Texas. I want him to come here because he wants to get an education, a great degree from a great university and that he wants to play for this great university. That’s what it’s all about.”
Strong is right. It shouldn’t be about the facilities, but try explaining that to every 17-18 year old kid you meet. Looking over the last five recruiting classes, the Longhorns have definitely slipped from their perch at the top as the facilities have started to age.
Texas Recruiting Class Ranks The Last 5 Years (Rivals)
|Year||5 Stars||4 Stars||3 Stars||Class Rank|
Now, by no means are dated facilities telling the full story here. The drop in recruiting also coincides with the decline of Texas on the field, and Charlie Strong’s arrival to the program brought a much-needed boost in recruiting. It’s probably safe to say a renovation wouldn’t hurt the Longhorn program though, and Texas already has one in the works. After all, they can buy fancy new digs, but not everyone can buy prestige.
– Cover Photo Credit: Darrell K Royal Stadium | Flickr | Wally Gobetz