New Clemson Football Complex exceeds expectations


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The new dining area
The new dining area

CLEMSON – Members of the Clemson media contingent took a tour of the new Clemson Football Complex Tuesday afternoon, and the wow factor was off the charts.

Thad Turnipseed, the Director of Recruiting and External Affairs, was Tuesday afternoon’s tour guide and it was tough for him to keep the 40 or so in attendance on pace – once a new part of the facility was introduced, many in the tour would stand around snapping photos, slack jawed at what they were seeing.

We’ve heard how great it is, and I saw it as recently as November and had high expectations but what we saw Tuesday was even better.

The complex sits next to the practice fields and indoor practice facility, with the main entrance facing the indoor track. Turnipseed said he wanted the facility to be a home away from home for Clemson’s football players and staff, and unless you are a member of this country’s elite you don’t have a real home this nice, much less a home away from home.

The $55 million facility is the brain child of head coach Dabo Swinney and Turnipseed, and that wow factor hits you as soon as you walk through the door. As we arrived, the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy and Amway Coaches National Championship Trophy were being installed in the lobby, sitting safely behind glass cases.

A replica of The Hill sits to your left, and Turnipseed brought in engineers to ensure that the hill is a scale replica of the real one, including the grade of steepness. Visitors can ascend the stairs, rub a replica of Howard’s Rock and push a button to hear the Clemson band play Tiger Rag as Brent Musburger describes The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football.

Just behind the hill is the Nike Team Room, complete with opportunities to have your photo taken in front of a green screen and sent to your social media account. The team room also has uniforms and bowl rings on display.

The weight room hasn’t been completed, and Turnipseed said that while the coaches have already moved over to the complex, the players will be completely moved over by February 23rd, just in time for spring practice. The weight room itself, at 26,000 square feet, is larger than the one in the WestZone and is complete with a cardio balcony and nutrition bar.

Upstairs are thee coaches’ offices, meetings rooms, recruiting lounge, recruiting war room and theater. Swinney’s suite includes a 600-square foot office with floor to ceiling windows that overlook the practice fields and a picturesque view of Death Valley. A door opens to a patio that runs the length of the building past the other coaches’ offices. On the opposite wall is the door to Swinney’s personal area, including a private entrance to the building, dressing area and bathroom.

Co-offensive coordinator and lead recruiter Jeff Scott said the complex will provide another boost for Clemson’s recruiting.

“I think it really just elevates us up one more step, Scott said earlier this week. “We've got a great facility with the West EndZone, but moving over there to the new football operations center is going to be incredible. It's a one of a kind facility. I think it makes a statement to everybody in the southeast and everybody in the country that at Clemson, we take our athletics very important. There's a lot of pride. Coach Swinney has had the saying around here for a while that best is the standard and that's in everything. Obviously, we're talking to our players about their attitude, effort, concentration in practice, their performance in games, their performance in the classroom, their preparation off the field, making good decisions.

“The other side of that is we want to give our players the very best that we can while they're here because they are working extremely hard and that represents the commitment that his administration, Board of Trustees, President Clements, Dan Radakovich and his staff and really the vision of Coach Swinney that we're not going to sit back and get complacent and rest and let everybody pass us up so that we can try to catch up again. I think Coach Swinney says embrace the target and we want to do the same things in the facilities. We want to be ahead of the game and be that target. There is no greater time to add those facilities than right now with the momentum that we have already. I think that's just going to take it up another notch. The response we've gotten from recruits has been great just like we expected it to be.”

*A players’ lounge that includes a barber shop and shoe-shine area, arcade, two-lane bowling alley and laser tag. Due to NCAA regulations, the school can’t provide haircuts or shoe shines to players, but once a week someone will be brought in and the players can pay for those services.

*The facility includes a 24-seat HD theater and an indoor golf simulator. Members of the media took their turns on the golf course, with Turnipseed nailing a 224-yard drive down the middle of the fairway.

*Scales allow players to enter a thumbprint (biometric scanner) and step on the scales. The scales will register the player’s name and weight and send a digital report to the coaches. Once they weigh-in, they step into the PAW dining facility, once again scan their thumb, and a detailed menu will pop up based off their weight and goals.

Their diet plan will be based on their weight. If a player is overweight, he’s more likely to be served a salad or greens. If he’s underweight, nutritional protein shakes might be on the menu or he can choose from options from the fresh bakery.

*A nap room that features eight bunk beds, three massage chairs, a fish tank and bean bags.

*Visiting broadcast media will have a dedicated “studio” where they can interview coaches, eat meals and even broadcast. The studio includes a green screen.

*Players can walk off the practice field and into a 60-person cold tub. The players can leave the cold tub and put their cleats and dri-fit clothes in a specialized drying room before entering the locker room. There are also workout tubs (resistance training for injured players) and a lap pool.

*Laundry facilities will be on-site for players who get behind on laundering their clothes.

*One of Turnipseed’s favorite parts of the facility is a covered outdoor basketball court that will also serve as a multi-purpose facility, which will be ideal for hosting coaches’ clinics.

*The players’ lounge and locker room area is amazing – each player has four different storage areas and two USB plug-in stations.

*There is a special section devoted to Jeff Davis and the PAW Journey. The Journey features the success of Clemson athletes beyond football and includes successes in life and business.

*There is an outdoor village with basketball, putt putt and seating areas, outdoor fire pits and outdoor grills. Players can bring in food, sign in one guest, and have a cookout. At the edge of the village is a whiffleball field.

*A large slide that will enable players to leave the second floor and exit to the first floor. I tried it and it’s faster than it looks.

*A quick note about tours: I know a lot of you have asked about an open house or tours. The new complex is still being built in some areas, and as we mentioned the players won’t move in until late February. As of right now, there is no open house planned. Visitors are welcome to come to the lobby and run down the hill, but for the coaches and staff it is a working area and the rest of the complex is off limits. The

Photo Gallery: Clemson Football Complex

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