By Chadd Cripe
© 2014 Idaho Statesman
Media members were given a tour of the Bleymaier Football Center on Thursday. The building that opened last summer between Bronco Stadium and the Boise River houses the football program — from locker room to academic center.
A video of our tour is above.
Here is a photo gallery.
In the below video of coach Bryan Harsin’s press conference, you can hear Harsin’s take on the facility.
Facts about the facility:
— The $22 million facility includes 70,000 square feet of space. It houses coaches’ offices, position meeting rooms, a team meeting room, a training room (some of its features are used by other sports), an equipment room, a weight room, a locker room, a players lounge, an academic center, a recruiting lounge, a video-editing room, an NFL scouts room for watching video and an impressive lobby. The courtyard on the north side of the building has FieldTurf and can be used for some drills, with garage doors opening from the weight room onto the field.
— The weight room itself has 12,000 square feet of space, including a 30-yard stretch of blue turf used for agility drills and other exercises. The weight room has 20 strength racks for lifting and a cardio balcony. It also has two of the largest ceiling fans you’ll ever see.
— The locker room has 115 lockers, including a few set aside for former players who are using the facility. Each locker has four internal storage compartments. The lockers have a chrome and steel design. The locker room was designed with open space in the front and three spokes off of it, allowing the team to easily meet and coaches to see all of the players. A huge Bronco head logo is on the ceiling.
— The training room has 6,500 square feet. It features an anti-gravity treadmill and a glassed-in hydrotherapy area with a cold tub, hot tub and underwater treadmill.
— The team theater room includes 150 cushy seats, two projector screens, full surround sound, state-of-the-art connectivity and telestrator capability. The room was designed with extra large aisles between rows so players can move past sitting teammates without trouble.
— The player lounge near the locker room has a gaming station, TVs and a ping-pong table. Above that is the academic center and computer lab.
— The walls are covered with photo graphics, key words and phrases and other tributes to the program’s history. The school spent about $750,000 on graphics alone. That doesn’t include the 8-foot-by-10-foot tile mosaic of former quarterback Kellen Moore outside the recruiting lounge. That was donated by the company that made it. One of the most striking graphics is the two-story Hammer mural in the lobby. The lobby also has a large donor wall that says “The culture is contagious” and “Bleed Blue.” “That defines what we’re all about,” said Brad Larrondo, the assistant athletic director for football. There are 33 images of Moore in the building, including the mosaic dedicated to college football’s winningest quarterback. “The first time he saw it, he just shook his head and walked down the hall,” Larrondo said.
— The lobby also features a series of mannequins dressed in the team’s different Nike uniforms.
— The first trophy cases immediately inside the entrance hold the two Fiesta Bowl trophies and two ESPYs.
— The hall leading out of the lobby is called Honor Hall. It features a Doug Martin photo and three lighted “signature marks” of the program — The Blue, the Hammer and winning tradition (showcases five championship rings).
— There are four electronic message boards in the building, including two in the locker room. They can be used to display a message of the day — “Manage the Easy” on Wednesday — or reminders about meetings.
— The Victory Tunnel is outside the locker room and leads directly onto the blue turf.
— The equipment room opens to a loading dock for loading the truck for road trips. There are locked cubbyholes outside the equipment room so that each player can grab his gear without help from the staff.
— The tour did not include the corridor where the coaches’ offices and position meeting rooms are. Each coach has an office overlooking Bronco Stadium. Harsin’s is in the southwest corner. There also are offensive and defensive staff rooms and a war room, where personnel and recruiting lists are posted on the walls but can be covered by a backdrop. The coaches also use that backdrop for Skype calls. The meeting rooms have graphics honoring past players at that position. The main wall is a combination projection screen and whiteboard, with room for writing on either side of the display.
Here are some highlights from Harsin and a couple players:
— Harsin went straight to the Bleymaier Football Center when he arrived in town after accepting the job. He didn’t get to see it on his interview. “Obviously it’s aesthetically pleasing,” he said. “A lot of the things you look at when you walk in the entrance are the things you’re trying to show as far as the Boise State brand — the trophies, the uniforms, the Hammer, the wall there that talks about culture. There are a lot of things in there that symbolize our program. When you go through the building, everything is functional. Coaches’ offices are right across from their meeting rooms. … This is as nice as anywhere in the country as far as the square footage and what you can get done. I love the steel locker room. That expresses that Bleed Blue mentality that we talk about. … The players lounge, a majority of our guys spend time there each and every day. That’s exactly what you want — you hope they’re staying in the building. … The way it is set up functionally is as good as any place I’ve seen.”
— Harsin on the decorations: “You embrace the past as you walk through here. It says, ‘This is what’s been done.’ Also I think as you walk through here, the words go along with some of the pictures and it basically says, ‘This needs to continue.’ I think there’s 22 different words (or phrases) throughout the building. There’s two or three that come up twice — ‘play hard,’ ‘play smart.’ ”
— Harsin on recruits: “They get jacked up about the uniforms and the locker room. Their families get excited about, ‘OK, this is where they’re going to be.’ ”
— Harsin on whether the words and phrases match his philosophy: “We’ll tweak some. For the most part, it’s really about as pure as what this program has been about. I don’t think there is too much fluff or extra words. I wouldn’t change very much. I walked around the facility and looked at every one and how they apply.”
— Harsin likes the locker room most: “I like the setup of the locker room. I like the colors and I like the words. And the logo. It’s similar to when I was at Texas — there was a logo up in the ceiling like that and not on the floor. … It lights up at night and glows with the orange lettering. That’s as cool of a place as I’ve seen, any type of locker room I’ve been in.”
— On whether the program could lose its edge with fancy facilities: “That’s definitely something that you worry about. We don’t shy away from the fact we have a great team room, we have a great locker room. That’s all those years of building toward having an opportunity to be at a place like this.”
— Senior defensive tackle Justin Taimatuia says the players lounge is his favorite spot: “That’s where we can really be ourselves. We’ve got a ping-pong table. It gets really competitive. Us players, we love to compete.”
— Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Archie Lewis on the locker room: “It’s pretty great with the big Bronco on top of the ceiling. The lockers look futuristic.”
Other notes from Harsin:
— Friday is the team’s alumni practice, an event inspired by Harsin’s time at Texas. He did the same thing last year at Arkansas State. Former players in town for the Spring Game can attend Friday’s practice and have dinner with the team. “We’re getting work done as a team but that day is very important for our current players to have a chance to meet and be around some of our former players,” Harsin said, “and as a former player, to be invited back and to know we want you to be a part of what we’re doing.”
— Harsin on getting former players involved: “It’s hard to be around it when you stop playing it and you’re done. We need to work through that. ‘I want you to come back and see what you helped us build.’ The current staff and current players didn’t build this building. A lot of guys before us did that. We have a bunch of players on our team who are really good. Not all of them will play in the NFL. There are a ton of Broncos out there who are very successful who might be in a position to help these guys get started. That needs to continue. That bond and that family and that unity they build shouldn’t go away just because they’re done playing.”
— In the Spring Game on Saturday, the first-team offense will play against the second-team defense and the second-team offense will play against the first-team defense. That will give both first-team units a better chance to execute and allow coaches to use the backups to provide certain looks they want to see against the first-teamers.”
— When junior Rees Odhiambo returns in the fall, he will play left tackle, Harsin said. Odhiambo is out for the spring with an injury but was the starting right tackle last season. Lewis, who has been the first-team left tackle this spring, will move to right tackle. I’ll have more on Lewis on Friday.
— Harsin on the staff: “Better than I thought. One, these guys are very good at what they do. Two, they’re all low-ego, high-output guys that work together well. And they’re idea guys. This staff, in my opinion, is creative.”