College Football

11 College Football Teams with Most Appealing Facilities

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

11 College Football Teams with Most Appealing Facilities

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    Brian Davies/Associated Press

    The "arms race" in college football has not been overblown. Programs compete with one another to have the boldest new jerseys and the grandest new facilities, hoping to lure high school recruits as they keep up with (and surpass) the Joneses.

    Because so many college football teams take place in this arms race, and because so many athletic departments are rolling in the money, narrowing this list down to 11 was a difficult endeavor. There are more than 11 supremely impressive facilities in college football; the nature of this list demanded that a few of those facilities be left off.

    This list comes with the disclaimer that I have never been to any of these places. If your favorite team has been left off, and you would like to vent off steam by writing in the comments and telling me I'm an idiot, you can use this to beef up your argument. Go ahead.

    What I have done is spent hours researching each facility. I have taken all the virtual tours, am aware which ones were built or renovated most recently and have seen which ones recruits can't stop raving about. 

    Factors such as modernness, sleekness and uniqueness of design were taken into account—which means, of course, that a big part of this was subjective. The facilities I thought stuck out, after looking at almost all of them, are the ones that I have included. But I am only one person. That doesn't mean you couldn't make an equally compelling case for 15 or 20 other options. I swear I don't just hate your team. 

    Chime in below, and let me know what else you would have included.

Alabama

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    There's a reason Alabama can get all of those recruits.

    The video above does not do the whole football facility in Tuscaloosa justice, but this all-access look from RollTide.com makes it one of the easiest inclusions on the list. The design is sleek without being ostentatious (arcade notwithstanding) and generally very modern.

    The locker room is highlighted, famously, by a waterfall that drains into a hydrotherapy pool.

    From top to bottom, Alabama's facility kills it.

Florida State

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    This renovation to the Florida State locker room, which began in April 2014, has the Seminoles feeling—in their own words—elite.

    The word "elite" was used eight times in the press release for the renovation, including twice in the same sentence in certain places. The message of the newly built locker room and facility is obvious: We intend to stay among the top two or three programs in America.

    The design of the new FSU locker room, which is the centerpiece of the renovation, places it, aesthetically, among the nicest in the country. That is going to be a heck of a place to get ready for a game.

Florida

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    Even after an ugly 4-8 season under head coach Will Muschamp, the Florida Gators have had no problems during recruitment.

    Part of that has to do with program history, and part of it has to do with the fertile recruiting ground of Florida. But no small part of it also has to do with the spectacle of the Heavener Football Complex.

    Especially from the outside, looking in from Bull Gator Plaza, Florida's facilities are state of the art. But inside, the conference rooms and football offices are also among the sleekest-designed in America.

    One little 4-8 season will not derail the Florida program.

Nebraska

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    In order to compete with the likes of Florida schools and California schools during recruiting, Nebraska has to stick out in other ways.

    One way the Huskers have chosen to do so is with their facility, which is just as nice as any in a coastal outpost.

    The players lounge is particularly cushy, and the complex as a whole does a good job alluding to Nebraska history—something recruits might have forgotten in the midst of six straight four-loss seasons—which is among the proudest and the most successful in America.

    Don't forget that weight room, either.

Notre Dame

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    In a sea of modern locker rooms, Notre Dame's stands out.

    It is the same as it has always been, only different; it still reeks of the shrine that Daniel Ruettiger—"Rudy"—once worshipped at.

    But not everything in South Bend harkens back to the past. The Guglielmino Athletics Complex spared no expense in its construction, and it sticks out as one of the most comfortable looking in America.

    The meeting rooms and offices are sublime, there are plasma screens all over the place and the weight room is built in a jaw-dropping open space. Brilliant combination of old-school and new-school by the Irish.

Ohio State

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    The Ohio State football facility has a classic cool.

    The design is not overly modern, and there are not any gimmicks designed for the sole purpose of sticking out. The opulence of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center is understated in a way that somehow makes it even better. The adjective that sticks out is "confident."

    But, make no mistake about it: This facility is one of the best in college football. The weight room is cavernous, and the locker room at Ohio Stadium (video above) is exactly as cozy as you'd expect.

    Not a bad place to play football.

Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State knows the value of an up-to-date locker room. It's the reason the Cowboys' most famous and industrious booster, T. Boone Pickens, helped build one of the nicest facilities in the country.

    And Pickens took sparing no expense to the next level.

    "One of the things Boone Pickens felt was that there was a particular shower head he liked that he thought was far and away better than the others," said Oklahoma State director of football operations Mack Butler, per Michael Ventre of NBCSports.com. "Each shower head is $700, and we have 60 of them."

    The Cowboys' facility also has the latest technological advancements and a fresh layout that helps it stand out among other qualified complexes. The facility Oklahoma has in Norman is no slouch itself, but OSU barely edges it out as the paragon of the Sooner State.

Oregon

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    The gold standard of athletic facilities, Oregon's Football Performance Center is a palace built by Nike CEO and noted Ducks alumnus Phil Knight (who has his own locker and parking spot at the facility).

    Certain photos of the Performance Center make you forget what you are looking at. This look at the lobby, for example, feels more like the office of a comic book villain than that of a college football team.

    The coaches' offices and players lounges also do a great job allowing for ambient light, one sign of a well-designed building.

    Again, there's a reason this is the gold standard.

Tennessee

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    One of the only things Tennessee fans care to remember about the Derek Dooley era was the construction of a $45 million Football Training Center that is easily among the best facilities in the country.

    Dooley was never able to turn this beautiful complex into results, but his successor, Butch Jones, has succeeded in using it to re-establish dominance for the Volunteers on the recruiting trail.

    Headlined by a 22,000 square-foot weight room—complete with a fighting cage…er, "Tumbling Area"—the UT facility edges out some of the impressive-but-older SEC complexes, such as the one at LSU.

    Even though it's too close to call.

Texas

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    The University of Texas consistently ranks first (or thereabouts) in the annual revenue rankings at USA Today, and the Longhorns know how to put that money to good use with a predictably brilliant facility.

    The Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center is everything a school could ask for—both inside and out—and the Longhorns' locker room is opulent but somehow still apropos to the culture of the state and the school.

    According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, UT is also working on building a two-story indoor practice facility, and the money has already been raised. As long as they can tiptoe "some issues with a state law that prohibits structures from blocking views of the Capitol building," it seems like that will come to fruition.

    In which case…just, wow.

USC

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    The John McKay Center, which was opened in 2012, has helped USC stomach its NCAA-sanctioned scholarship restrictions and continue recruiting like one of the nation's best teams these past few years.

    The 110,000-square-foot marvel cost $70 million to build but has easily been worth the price. The 30-yard indoor field in the (otherwise still massive) weight room stands out as a particularly nice touch.

    The McKay Center also houses a shrine to the former greats of USC football—of which there are many. Even the absence of Reggie Bush and his since-vacated Heisman Trophy cannot diminish its impact.

    There's a reason the Trojans have continued landing 5-star prospects at a rate that is downright Nick Saban-like.

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