Preview: South Carolina's Football Operations Center
The plans for Will Muschamp’s future office are taking up a lot of room in Will Muschamp’s current office.
South Carolina’s head football coach showed the blueprints to a visitor recently, flipping through the two-foot long architectural drawings to point out this feature or that feature. It’s the low-tech version of the presentation each of the Gamecocks recruits got during their visits to campus and will continue to receive until those plans are turned into a $50 million, 110,000-square foot operations building that will be built adjacent to the team’s still new indoor practice facility.
“This facility is going to be a game changer for us,” Muschamp said.
Work on the building is expected to begin March 8, and South Carolina will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project on April 1 before the spring football game.
The building is expected to be ready to use between 18 and 24 months from the start of construction, athletics director Ray Tanner said.
In the modern college football vernacular “operations building” is the buzzword for “everything under one roof.” Currently, a day in the life of a South Carolina football player involves parking in a lot across the street from Williams-Brice Stadium, navigating Bluff Road, taking a left to go to one end of the stadium if they’re headed to a coaches’ office or a right to the other end of the stadium if they’re headed to the weight room or a team meeting room. On practice days, there’s a 10-minute walk or 5-minute shuttle ride back across Bluff Road, through a parking lot and to the practice fields.
“We’re fractured in our facilities right now and we get beat up on that in recruiting,” Muschamp said.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football and expensive and expansive operations buildings have become the heart that keeps that blood pumping. South Carolina’s will feature a two-story weight room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the team’s outdoor practice fields, a dedicated room for water treatments, coaches’ offices, player and team meeting rooms, a dining area and a social media center.
“Everything you can imagine,” Muschamp said.
Well, everything functional. The facility will have a player’s lounge with pool tables, a movie room, an arcade and a barber’s chair, but that’s about all for the flash, Muschamp said.
“What is the message here? To me it’s about effort, toughness and discipline,” said Muschamp, who estimates he met with the building’s architects eight to 10 times during planning of the building. “It’s a workman place to develop student athletes. That’s what I believe. There will be some bells and whistles, but it’s a place to work. It’s exactly what we need as far as meeting to develop your student-athletes.”
The building’s lobby will have a “wow factor,” Muschamp said, including exhibits spotlighting former players, Williams-Brice’s game day atmosphere and school traditions.
“I would say there will be some bells and whistles, maybe not the extent you have heard at other places,” Tanner said.
The “other places” reference is at least in part an acknowledgment of Clemson’s newly opened football operations building, which includes a replica of the team’s hill entrance, an indoor slide, a putt-putt course and a whiffle ball field.
“We want to make it comfortable for them but also have them understand they are coming in here to work,” Muschamp said of South Carolina’s facility.
During the Gamecocks recruiting weekends, Tanner took the recruits through a virtual tour of the facility provided by the building’s architects, Muschamp said.
“His message to them is the investment we are going to put into the student-athletes,” Muschamp said. “You can’t just talk about it, you have to be about it, and you have to continue to evolve facility-wise to show them the investment. That’s what we’re doing.”
Under one roof
Key facts about USC’s football operations building:
Cost: $50 million
Size: 110,000-square feet
Location: Adjacent to the indoor practice facility
Features: Weight room , a room for water treatments, coaches’ offices, player and team meeting rooms, a dining area and a social media center.
Schedule: Construction begins March 8 and will take between 18 and 24 months.