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Ducks begin camp on top with new digs and No. 3 ranking

Posted: Wednesday, Aug 7th, 2013

Phto by Jerry Thompson Operations administrator Jeff Hawkins showed the media the state-of-the-art locker room area on Monday.

The glass palace, the Taj Mahal, Uncle Phil’s playhouse…whatever opulent description you want to give it, the University of Oregon’s new 145,000 square foot Football Performance Center has garnered a lot of attention locally as well as nationally, which included a large spread in Sports Illustrated. Some like the fact that it will give an edge to the Ducks, not only in performance on the field, but also in recruiting the nation’s top players. Others see it as just another escalation of the excessive arms race that now permeates big-time college football.

I was privileged to take the two-hour tour of the facility on Monday, and I came away with some mixed emotions.

My first impression was that the new building is simply a glorified office building with lots of big screen TVs. There’s lots of glass, sterile hallways and LED lighting on the six-floor structure.

The tour began with the entry into a huge lobby area with a back wall comprised of 64 55-inch video screens meshed into one huge screen that can be accessed independently. Next was the player’s cafeteria. The equipment was all new, but the room just seemed functional to me.

We looked at the new 25,000 square feet weightlifting area. It is not as big as the Nebraska Cornhusker’s 30,000 square feet area but will certainly be adequate. The weight room as well as the coaches’ offices overlook the new practice fields on the west side of Autzen. The walls are made of a substance that allows the coaches to use markers to diagram plays.

The 170-seat theater room was very similar in style to the theaters at the Gateway Mall. There is a huge screen, but of course that was to be expected.

The area known as “Area 51” contains the “war room.” It has a 35-foot table with state-of-the-art computer and video access. The players’ lounge was nice but not extravagant. There were big screen tvs for viewing sports or playing video games and one pool table and two foosball tables.

The locker room area had a special locker that could only be opened by the player punching in his code on a computer pad. Each locker had the player’s name, number and what city he hails from on the locker.

There were some unique features such as cartoon-type artwork in the parking garage depicting famous players from the past. On one floor there were over 100 glass Ducks with initials on them representing every single Oregon player that was drafted by the NFL. Over the serving area in the cafeteria was a sign that read “Eat your enemies" with logos of all the Pac-12 teams’ logos displayed.

Football operations administrator Jeff Hawkins said the new football center came about over an eight-year period of time with Mike Bellotti expressing the need for a better medical and training facility. It was a matter of keeping up with what the rest of the major college football programs were doing. The UO planners traveled to Michigan, Texas, Georgia and other perennially strong programs. They viewed their facilities, took notes and asked them the question, ‘how could this facility be better, or what would you have done differently.'

“It was never a comparison of trying to get bigger, it was trying to have better flow, to be more efficient, better teaching opportunities, better training opportunities, better nutrition opportunities…that’s what it was always about,” said Hawkins. “It’s what we needed."

For the complete article see the 08-07-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 08-07-2013 paper.

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