Doug has been getting flamed for his recruiting recently and how that has translated to the product on the field. However, if we could for just a moment step back from our notion that SU is the best college football program in the country and try to take an outside view as to what Doug and the coaches are working with. (a big reason why so many others turned down this job)
Doug does not have a football version of the Melo Center, and JB will be the first to tell you how much that has helped recruiting. Recruits, for the most part, are not blindly passionate fans of a particular team. They don't see the world through Orange glasses. A high school junior cares less about color and more about shine. There is no sense in beating a dead horse and bringing up the weather (while Im sure every coach who recruits against us does.) Our facilities are MAC level (remember that video of Ohio's locker room when they got black unis? so maybe worse than the MAC). It limits the growth of our program and while we are waiting for some rich donor to leave us millions in his (or her) estate, the schools we recruit against are using state dollars to grow their programs.
Our facilities are deeply lacking. Especially when compared to the three other schools that are the best measuring stick of ourselves as a program: BC, Wake and Northwestern. There's a reason we have been scheduling them folks. Its because its a fair fight. They are on our level. These are private, eastern schools where an athletic scholarship cost 40K as opposed to 18K at a state subsidized school.
Wake Forest plays their home games at BB&T Field. It only seats 31,000 but that does not include "Deacon Hill" a grassy area behind the south end zone with picnic style seating (partying.) Its an open air stadium with plenty of room around it for tailgating. (by the way, they have a nice video that explains all of this) In 2007 they spent just under $50 million on improvements including "Deacon Tower" which includes suites and club seating that blows away what we have in The Dome (and is on par with MetLife Stadium from what I can see). Their stadium is connected to their field house which houses both the home and away locker rooms.
But thats not all folks! Wake Forrest also has The Pruitt Football Center. I will let them describe it
The main floor houses the office of head coach Jim Grobe, as well as a large video editing suite and a room designed specifically for NFL scouts where they are able to gather player information and watch film.The team's spacious 3,500 square foot locker room is also located on the main floor of the complex. The locker room is filled with individual solid oak lockers and an equipment area, which houses each players' full football gear.
Directly outside of the locker room is a comfortable players' lounge with two flat screen high definition TVs and black leather sofas. Team members will often come here to relax between meetings or classes.
The focal point of the complex's second floor is Decker Auditorium. This 1,500 square foot team meeting space features 130 black leather seats, each embroidered with the Wake Forest logo.
It also houses the 2006 ACC Championship trophy, something we are going to have to set our game up if we ever want.
Wake also totally renovated their weight room in 2008... just sayin'
Boston College, another future ACC rival has some pretty sweet digs themselves. They play their home games in 44,500 seat Alumni Stadium, which was renovated in 1995. If you look at their photo gallery, you can see how they have continuously improved the facility since its inception in 1915.
In 2005, BC built the $27 Million Yawkey Athletics Center. This 72,000 square foot facility houses some snazzy locker rooms, a museum, offices, a lounge, new weight rooms, a new training room and a whole bunch of other frivolous spaces.
Northwestern does not boast about its facilities, but being in the B1G it throws some weight around. We all know about Ryan Field which was the double for the Arch in The Express. Its an old stadium with a ton of history that they hang onto for traditions sake. What we may not realize is that in 1996, they built a 30 million dollar practice facility with both indoor and outdoor practice fields (thats like 50 million today) to go along with this field which they have been continuously improving.
Northwestern is perticuarly proud of their Buehler Sports Medicine Center which just seems over stocked with trainers. It also features other therapeutic amenities such as rehab pools and spas. (not having a medical school comes back to bite us in the ass again)
Where do these teams land? What are realistic expectations for them? 6-8 win seasons with a run at a conf title once a decade. And we are not at their level yet.
Syracuse to say the least is not on par with these schools, two of which we will be competing against annually very soon. We do not have a football facility, but rather a wing of the field house. We have renovated Manley into a shanty 60 yard field rather than build a building. (but dont tell the athletic department that, they still consider Manley "one of the country's best basketball facilities" haha) This is all quite a bit away from The Dome, which is now almost 30 years old without any real improvements save for splashing orange all over, but I assure you, there is still gum on the cement from the first game, now black with age.
How can we improve? DOC Gross will try and pitch a brand new stadium down town or something. It will never happen. Its his fund rasing approach. He will wave a $500 million dollar facility in front of the fans to raise $50 million. Its to get us excited. He is doing this with the boat house for my former team, showing a 12 Million dollar plan (I dont see what about a cinder block building the size of a house justifies it costing that much but what ever) and will realistically end up with closer to 1 million to make improvements with.
We need to be realistic. I for one am a fan of setting realistic goals and having a plan. I know we seem determined to keep football at Manley, but what if we were to add it to The Dome? Blow out the west side of the dome like Wake did to their stadium and put in boxes, new locker rooms, offices, training rooms, a lounge, etc. Even if its at the expense of the endzone seats (no one sits there anyways). Then a practice field could go in place of the parking lot across the street. On game days this could host events and fun activities!
If not, then we need real facility at Manley. Just a wing wont cut it. Sacrifice some parking and perhaps the soccer field (maybe they can have a better one up on south) and just build it. And do it right, like we did with the Melo Center.
As for The Dome, we need to improve game day atmosphere first and foremost. This was obvious after I went to the UConn game. UConn fans dont go to their game because they give two sh*ts about UConn football. They go because its a blast. The tailgating is really good. Everyone is out and about. They serve 20oz'ers in the stadium. We need to encourage tailgating. Make it an event. Even if we have to designate an area so the townies done get pissed off (and if you live next to a parking lot and do get upset that people tailgate on game day, youre a townie. get over it). We need to reach for the later start times and encourage people to get their early. Perhaps free parking if youre 2 hours early. Or a band in the parking lot (not on the quad) 2 hours before the game.
The Dome itself is so outdated its scary. The MSG renovations got me thinking, can we replace some bleachers with seats? While we are at it, power wash the place and put some kind of a finish over the cement? Like an orange epoxy floor coating with a silica grit so we dont slip. The concourses need to be updated badly. I believe an expansion on the west side would allow for some better food prep and thus better food. At MSG they had video signs on flat screens with menus. That was a nice touch.
What is it going to take to get a ribbon board in the dome? Something to replace the old score boards and the poor quality screens we have for replays.
Also the concourses are so dark. Im trying to think "Restaurant Impossible" here as opposed to all new facility - so lets put down a durable laminate on the floors to look like fake hard wood, paint the walls white to reflect light and increase the fixtures with something that resembles natural light as opposed to halogen. I for one dont like feeling like Im getting food from a cave. Oh... and while its neat they put up framed pictures of athletes, lets do a better job. Better pictures, larger, and no wood frames. How about light boxes with some pictures that have been run through photo shop so they look professional?
As for SUathletics, firstly, does it only look weird on my computer? Can we update it a little more often? SU has hundreds of amazingly talented students who would work for the athletic department taking and editing photos or producing videos for just the right to put a line on their resume. Potential student athletes love videos on youtube. Grass roots stuff. Things they can send to their friends or post on their facebooks. So do fans. USC has great videos for season intros and some weight room stuff. Recruits watch these. We are the best TRF school in the country and we hardly put anything on youtube. And we have a student base that can put together amazing videos (ex mayfest 2011)
We are in a tough spot recruiting wise. Yes we need to win before the money starts flowing in, but we need money to get the players to win. I dont think anyone who would want the job would do a better job than Doug. Could Nick Saban? Sure, but there isnt a prayers chance in hell he would ever come here even if the money was right.
There is no secret formula. Its about building a program, developing it like you develop players, cultivating an attitude and putting one foot in front of the other. Its not an over night process. Its up to the school to decide where their commitment is. And its at an exponentially increasing cost. The three other schools mentioned have 8 win expectations. Our level of financial commitment is about 5 wins. No NFL team is signing a league minimum QB and expecting him to make the probowl. No business hires a CEO for less than the going rate and expects him to be a brilliant innovator. An IndyCar team cant compete with half the budget of the other crews. Its true of any business, you get what you pay for.