Golf course architects call it the “wow factor.” Every time a golfer drives up to the next tee box, he is wowed by the vista of the hole before him.
The University of Oregon’s football operations center has that “wow factor” on each of its six floors, around every corner, even in the parking garage underneath the facility. If the intent was to impress football recruits on their visits to Eugene, then check the box.
When I traveled to Oregon for the Ducks’ home game against Virginia last September, I arranged to get a VIP tour of the structure, knowing that somewhere down the road that the Cavaliers wanted to build a new home for its football program.
The purpose of the new facility is two-fold. The first is that the McCue Center, which has housed the program since 1991, is simply too small. Virginia has fallen behind practically every rival program in the ACC in terms of a football home. Secondly, recruits notice.
“Facilities have become one of the largest recruiting tools for young, impressionable athletes who are, one, looking to go somewhere and have a fantastic educational experience, and have a growth experience,” said former Virginia and NFL star Tiki Barber. “They also want to see a facility that’s top-notch, something that’s the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the high school they went to, which is usually a small gym or a small workout facility.”
Barber, now co-host of the “Tiki and Tierney” radio and TV show, keeps a close watch on college and pro football.
“I think the bar has been raised by all of the corporate athletic money that has come into sports, obviously epitomized by Oregon and Nike, or Under Armour and the University of Maryland,” Barber said. “So, when you’re wooing these young athletes, a lot of it has to do with what you’re showing them, and the…