Pac 12 Tour - Stanford
Stanford is a special place. Visit campus and you'll see and feel what I mean.
After having lunch at the 49ers facility, Mike and I arrived at Stanford's campus about 30 minutes before our projected time so we drove around campus a bit. I'm having a hard time finding the words to explain how nice Stanford University is. The campus is huge and it's immaculate. With total undergraduate enrollment of less than 7,000 students, Stanford must have the best ratio of faculty to students anywhere.
Quick side note, Mike (@OT_Software) is a bit of a software geek. As we drove around campus, multiple times he sensed the brilliance of a student walking nearby and seriously considered offering them a job on the spot. Yes, he was in software coder heaven...and he was happy.
At 2pm on the nose Stanford assistant athletic director for football operations Matt Doyle met us and brought us in to see the place. First stop was the coaches offices. Head coach David Shaw and several of the assistants (along with a couple of the players) were watching the last few minutes of one of the basketball games that day. All of the coaches were extremely welcoming and hospitable. Shaw was a great choice to replace Jim Harbaugh as head coach and he has made a number of equally impressive personnel decisions...and the results continue to show up on the field. We'll write more on this topic in the coming weeks, but there is no doubt in our mind that coach Shaw and his staff will keep Stanford football at the highest level for a long time to come.
First stop on the tour was down to the weight room where I had the opportunity to present head strength coach Shannon Turley with his award (2011 FootballScoop Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Year).
Doyle then brought us over to see the stadium. In the tunnel, Stanford has some very cool graphics.
The stadium itself is as picturesque as you would expect. Inside the appearance is crisp, clean and has a very classic feel to it. New grass will go in this Summer.
The training table and dining options at Stanford are excellent and blend well with rest of the student population. Next we had the opportunity to visit the training / medical facilities. These are truly world class and both in terms of injury prevention and in rehabilitation the treatment at Stanford is top notch.
We continued the tour of campus and were consistently impressed with the people we met, the facilities we saw, student life in general at Stanford and everything we learned about the Univeristy. Anyone who has the opportunity to go to Stanford needs to take that visit. When visiting the world famous Stanford business school we noticed a familiar name from our trip...Phil Knight (who earned an MBA from Stanford) has an entire program, and several buildings, named after him.
We headed back to the football offices as running backs coach / recruiting coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. had asked Mike to demo their software apps for him. As they were sitting down I noticed tight ends coach Ron Crook teaching his son a sweet post route down on the basketball court within their offices. The kid has a future in the game!
I sat in on a few minutes of the idea session raging between Sanford and Mike with OT. Some of the things that Sanford and their staff are doing in terms of recruiting are incredibly smart...things I haven't heard of other programs doing. These guys are smart. This is Stanford. We'll write more about this subject over the next few weeks as well.
With Stanford being located in tech-mecca Palo Alto (yes, Mike had us drive by the headquarters of Facebook, Google, Apple, etc...he said something about he and I becoming smarter simply though osmosis) real estate is extremely expensive. About a year ago, the University built a number of homes on campus for their coaches to live in (coaches of all sports). 7 current assistants live in these homes which are very nice new construction. I believe the head coach and two coordinators livd in off campus homes the university purchased as well. All of this was made economically feasible through a donation from one man, John Arrillaga who has generously supported Stanford athletics and the University for many years and for several projects.
We were invited to join a couple of the coaches at their homes and saw a vibrant mini-community filled with coaches and their families. No doubt this type of idea comes with a significant price tag, but every coach we spoke with raved about the homes and how much they enjoy living so close to so many of their peers. We think this is a great idea.
We went out to dinner Friday night with Doyle and several of the coaches and couldn't have had a better night. Huge thanks to Mike Bloomgren and Mike Sanford and their wives and children for opening their homes to us and to Matt Doyle for taking time away from his previously scheduled speaking engagement to host us.
Thousands of high school students and their parents dream of getting accepted to Stanford University. After meeting Coach Shaw and his staff and experiencing 24 hours at Stanford, it's hard to imagine that there aren't also thousands of coaches out there that dream to one day have the opportunity to join the staff here as well. Amazing place.
We'll write more about our visit to Stanford and some of the unique things they are doing over the coming weeks. We've got visits with UCLA and USC on Monday. Stay tuned for for more reports on our Pac 12 Tour on the site and on twitter @FootballScoop.
Pac 12 Tour - Cal & the 49ers
Friday morning began with a tour of the new football facilities at Cal. The field and the stadium will be "game-ready" for their home opener this season.
The coaches offices are now all within the stadium (Tedford just moved into his earlier this week). All within the stadium, we toured the coaches / operations area (which includes a nice production studio and an impressive video office fully decked out with all of the latest...compliments of XOS).
Each of the position meeting rooms likewise has what has now become standard digital technology built into it. Training table is on this main level as well. One floor below we toured the new locker room, players lounge (which was pretty nice), the weight room, team meeting room, etc...
We drove down to Santa Clara for lunch with some of the coaches with the 49ers. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman gave us the tour and then we had lunch with Roman, offensive line coach Tim Drevno and defensive coordinator / mastermind Vic Fangio. Coach Harbaugh joined us for a few minutes as well. One thing we picked up on was the cohesion between the coaching staff and the personnel guys. These guys are all focused on winning the Superbowl, they are working together to get there and they are close.
One interesting note from the 49ers facility (which was designed by Bill Walsh) is that both the offense and the defensive staffs have their own staff / war rooms surrounded by the four position coaches offices with sliding glass doors to each. Slightly dated style wise, but extremely wise and efficient design.
It was now time to head over to Palo Alto to spend the rest of the with the staff at Stanford.
Pac 12 Tour - Days Two & Three
Driving down to Los Angeles provides an opportunity to catch everyone up on the Tour.
Day two of the tour began in Corvallis. Driving around the city that morning both Mike (@OT_Software) and I remarked how nice of a small town this is. Several of the coaches had asked Mike to come back in to demo some of his apps for them. Overall, it was a great visit.
We then headed south to Eugene. We had lunch with Craig Pintens, senior associate athletic director for marketing at Oregon (and formerly of LSU). Craig's a smart guy and is a great addition to Oregon athletics. He shared some marketing plans that the Ducks have to take their brand to the highest level. Good stuff, great lunch. Then the real fun began ...
Josh Gibson and Kyle Wiest gave us the full tour. Oregon's current facilities were built in the early 90's; and they have just broken ground on a brand new six story football only facility that I have no doubt will be the nicest in the country. The current facilities are easily in the top 5. The coaches offices and meeting rooms would be considered fairly standard and possibly even slightly outdated by current BCS conference standards, but all of the player oriented space is exceptionally nice.
When you first walk into football the walls are adorned with high end graphics and high res photos of players, plenty of different uniforms and a number of quotes from opposing coaches and ESPN announcers.
Josh and Kyle took us through the tunnel and into the stadium. Impressive. We then went back into the locker room. Has to be the nicest in the country. Bells and whistles that we had never heard of before. The ventilation system works. No locker room scent at all. As you leave the locker room you can step into the training area which has the feel of a high end spa. Nutritionists greet you and provide you with the appropriate drink or snack, etc...they have all of the hydro-therapy pools imaginable. Weight room seems top of the line, but they tell us the new one will be far more impressive.
Video below shows you many of the same areas we saw on our tour.
We took a quick tour of campus which is very nice. Plenty of state of art buildings on campus featuring the "Knight" name. The guys took us through the Jaqua academic center for student athletes. This is the nicest building I've ever been in. Seemed like countless full-time tutors for the players. The building had endless technology built into it.
Video below shows you some of the facets of the academic center.
It was time to get back to football as Coach Kelly had a staff meeting at 3. As we learned, Chip's staff meeting are quick. After about 3 minutes they invited us in. We talked FootballScoop for about 10 minutes and then Chip asked Mike to demo his software. About 3 minutes into it Chip looked over to me, winked and said this is pretty impressive. Coach Kelly and the staff asked Mike a number of questions...ideas were happening, the room liked what they were seeing. Meeting ended and Chip invited us to spend a few minutes in his office. Well, about two hours letter, we headed to dinner with about 9 guys from the staff. Great time at dinner. Ran into a number of pro scouts that night in town for Oregon's pro day the next day.
Overall, really couldn't have been more impressed with the Oregon facilities and the quality of guys on their staff.
Chip asked us to come back in Thursday morning so he and their recruiting / technology guys could go over Mike's software and their requested customizations in greater detail. The stuff they were talking about was cutting edge stuff. Haven't seen it anywhere before. A couple of hours later it was time to head south to the Bay Area.
Can't thank the coaches and support staff at both Oregon State and Oregon enough for all of the time they afforded us.
On our way south, we detoured over to Healdsburg, CA (Sonoma county) that night for dinner with friends that own Zichichi Family Vineyard. Great times and great wine. I highly recommend a visit next time you are in wine country.
For more pictures and stories from the tour follow @FootballScoop on twitter.
Gamecock workouts: "To the top!"
Coming off the best season in Gamecock history, South Carolina is putting in some serious work to build on last seasons success.
From the video below you can see the sweat they're putting in, the strength staff doing an excellent job motivating, and the players are competing pretty intensely and throwing around some serious weight.
Edsall stressing technique in spring
Randy Edsall and the staff have decided to take a back to basics approach to spring ball this season, opting to focus on technique and mastering the fundamentals.
Edsall says that the biggest thing for him and his staff is making sure that the players take the technique that they learn during individual work with their coaches and applying it during team drills.
"It doesn't matter what scheme we play if we're not good at executing the techniques that are being taught, or the fundamentals of the game" he said.
Exciting changes at Mississippi State
Over the next few seasons, Davis Wade stadium is going to undergo some big renovations in Starkville.
Mississippi State Athletic Director Scott Stricklin says that 16 consecutive sell outs and a lot of excitement surrounding the program have forced the athletic department to make some critical decisions in recent months on providing some additional seating in the stadium.
Stricklin says that they plan to bowl the open ended north end zone for general seating and provide "premium seating" options in that end zone as well. Brick will also be added to the exterior of the north end to compliment the rest of the campus' architecture.
The goal is to begin construction in 2012 on the bowl section for the north end zone and the entire project should be done by the start of the 2014 season.
Video: Fedora's first spring practice
Larry Fedora and UNC opened up their spring practices Wednesday and the Tar Heels aren't wasting any time getting after it.
Good look at the first practice below, with plenty of drill footage.
Patterson warns players of spring break temptation
With spring break just around the corner, Gary Patterson understands the temptations out there for his players, and reminded them to be smart and enjoy their break after yesterdays practice.
"People do stupid things like playing beach volleyball and turning their ankle, breaking their leg jumping in three-foot pools." he said.
Patterson added that many of his players are just heading home to enjoy their break with family and friends, as opposed to the normal spring break hot spots.
"A lot of our kids can’t afford to go to one of those places, so they’ll go home, get a chance to see their buddies. They need a break. They’ve been going hard since January. We’ve been pushing them pretty hard."
TCU will resume their spring practice on March 27.