Iowa boasts a 23,000 square foot weight room, part of a $55 million renovation of its football facilities. In 2018, Minnesota opened the Athlete Village — a $166 million project that now houses a 16,000-foot weight room, a renovated locker room, football offices and an indoor practice field. Northwestern’s $270 million project put an indoor practice field on the beach.
Purdue recently showed off a $65 million facility renovation, crowned by an 11,600 square foot locker room that features 120 custom lockers with a floor-to-ceiling TV in the middle of the room.
Nebraska’s roster right now — north of 150 players — is too big to completely house in the main locker room inside Memorial Stadium, so some are relegated to auxiliary space in the Hawks Championship Center. Same goes for a few assistant coaches. The weight room — around 20,000 square feet — isn’t the smallest in the conference but it isn’t the biggest.
When the Big Ten conference announced record-shattering revenue from Fiscal Year 2018 last week, Nebraska’s payout from the conference was revealed north of $50 million. There are plenty of things that money can and will go to, but it may add some fire to the discussion around Nebraska’s football facilities.
They aren’t poor, an important note to remember. But it’s also important to remember Bill Moos is in town and he wants to be the best at just about everything he does.
“We’re more than adequate right now, and we can recruit to what we have right now,” Husker Athletic Director Bill Moos told Hail Varsity in a recent sit-down. “My practice is to look five years down the road, and if I’m just sitting on my chair and not thinking and visualizing what the landscape is going to look like in five to 10 years, I’m not doing my job. So, I’ve got people taking care of things now. I’m studying and having my people look at what’s happening in the conference — what are the facilities in the conference and are we lagging behind?
“Right now, I think we’re okay, but are we going to be able to say that in five years and lose that kid in Chicago or that kid in Cleveland or the player from back east because they like the facilities better at some of our competition. We’ve got to be on top of that.”
Conversations are being had about what an upgrade would look like and what it would cost. The Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex is nearly 10 years old. In context with the recent arms race in college football, that’s ancient. A face-lift could be in the cards, but that seems a short-term holdover for a longer-term investment needed down the road. The locker room in particular is something that will get a look.
“Our facilities are really good, when they were built here in North Stadium they were the best,” Moos said. “But you can’t rest on your laurels and you have to re-invest. And not just to do it, but we need to strive to be the best in everything we do. That’s a big menu, and facilities is a piece of it, and we’ve got to stay on top of that and we will.”
Glitz and glam mostly lend themselves to recruiting. Head coach Scott Frost and his coaching staff are about the real — relationships and character — and in some ways that runs counter to the Oregon way of wowing a kid’s socks off when he visits campus. But today’s kids care about optics. And athletic departments aren’t the ones to tell them they shouldn’t.
It’s a game. And to be among the elite, you have to play.
“Big time,” Moos said. “They shouldn’t (care), but they do.”
Moos has two boys who have both played college football. In 2017, they came for the Iowa game and experienced the Tunnel Walk. They had their phones out recording the crowd and the atmosphere. Moos said they got a tour of the Training Table and the academic support unit and the life skills area. (The locker room and weight room weren’t mentioned; you can glean from that what you will.)
“You need those types of things in today’s world to attract talent,” Moos said. “Purdue’s got a great coach, wonderful institution, but they don’t have a tradition of consistent winning and they’re trying to establish that.
“It sounds very much like Washington State. Needed the right coach, an improvement and investment in facilities and now they’re averaging nine wins and nice bowl games every year. They’ve got the (AFCA) National Coach of the Year, they’re in a position to win championships year in and year out because it was the right combination, the right recipe and investment in facilities, growing the fanbase, showcasing the brand.”
Moos spearheaded that Washington State investment — a $61 million renovation to Martin Stadium and the adjoining football operations building (that featured some Nebraska influence).
It seems there’s a good chance Nebraska could be next.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.