Josh Kendall

‘It is breathtaking,’ Gamecocks moving into their game changer

A Bluff Road tradition almost as old as Williams-Brice Stadium itself ended this week with the opening of South Carolina’s new $50 million football operations building.

Gamecocks football players will no longer have to cross the road every time they go to practice, which has necessitated a police officer stopping traffic on Bluff Road as much as twice a day during football season going back to the days the team was practicing at the Proving Grounds.

“I think it’s going to be really good for us not to have to make the walk across the street, stop traffic, people honking their horns at us trying to get to work,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “I know it’s simple, but it’s just a better setup.”

“I would like to know how much time I’ve spent walking across Gamecock Park in my life,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp joked last month before his team played in the Belk Bowl to finish the 2018 season.

On Monday, South Carolina support staff members began moving into the 110,000-square-foot facility, which will put all of the Gamecocks football facilities under one roof for the first time in the program’s history. In Williams-Brice Stadium, the team’s coaches offices and players meeting rooms and locker room are on opposite ends of the stadium, and the coaches and players were forced to walk from the stadium to the team’s practice facilities and back from every practice.

“The meeting rooms are right close to the coaches offices. It’s easy access to talk to them,” Bentley said. “Now it’s kind of hard to get from one side to the other. There’s a lot of excitement. You can feel it when guys talk about it. I think it’s going to be huge for us. I can’t wait to get into it.”

Muschamp has been talking up the facility since he arrived at the school three seasons ago, repeatedly referring to it as “a game changer.”

“At the end of the day, a parent or guardian, they want to come on campus and see, ‘What are you going to do for my son?’ And when they see this facility, it is impressive,” he said. “They see the investment. They see we are serious. They see we are serious about winning a championship. You can’t just talk about it. You have to be about it. That’s what we’ve done with this facility. It is breathtaking.”