ESPN: OSU facilities tops in B1G

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Last updated: 06/14/2012 12:33 PM

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ESPN Ranks Ohio State Facilities Tops in B1G

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Don’t say ESPN never gave you anything, Ohio State fans.

Even if it was their Big Ten bloggers, the network most Buckeye fans love to hate recently ranked Ohio State as the top football facilities in the entire Big Ten Conference.

“The Buckeyes have the total package, from a massive, iconic stadium to a stand-alone football-only facility (Woody Hayes Athletic Center),” ESPN’s B1G blogger Adam Rittenberg wrote.

“That includes offices, meeting rooms, a weight room and memorabilia displays.”

According to Rittenberg, his rankings consider the school’s football stadium, offices and meeting rooms, weight rooms, indoor practice fields and outdoor fields.

Ohio State’s newly renovated outdoor football practice facility — the Harmon Family Football Park at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center — gives the Buckeyes two FieldTurf and two natural grass surfaces for their outdoor practices.

The $5.2 million renovation also added lights to the outdoor practice area for those cooler, evening practices. All of that was include in Rittenberg’s ranking.

“They renovated their outdoor practice fields and have a decent indoor facility,” he wrote, “Ohio State has plenty to show off for recruits.”

Behind Ohio State on Rittenberg’s list of football facilities was Nebraska and then Michigan; the Buckeyes most heated rival in the Big Ten. The Wolverines recently made upgrades to both the football stadium and indoor practice facility, which gave UM a slight edge over Penn State for the No. 3 spot in the rankings.

“The Al Glick Field House might be the best indoor practice facility in the country,” Rittenberg wrote.

“The weight room is impressive and the Big House upgrades have been a big hit. Schembechler Hall is the only minor drawback, but a renovation is coming.”

After Penn State at No. 4 came Michigan State, Iowa and Illinois, to no one’s surprise. Rittenberg says PSU compares favorably to Ohio State’s facilities, although there are some drawbacks when it comes to Beaver Stadium.

Not surprisingly, Northwestern rated last in the conference in football facilities.

“The facilities are better than they were before a mid-1990s renaissance, but Northwestern still lags behind most major conference programs in this area,” he wrote.

“Ryan Field is a decent venue, and a newish outdoor practice field has helped. But Northwestern needs some significant upgrades and is still waiting for approval on a facilities plan launched in October 2010.”

The same can be said for Wisconsin, probably the biggest surprise on the list for those who were not aware. Despite being one of the top-performing programs in the conference over the last two decades, Wisconsin was rated No. 11, ahead of only Northwestern, on Rittenberg’s list.

“It's amazing that Wisconsin has had so much football success despite limited or outdated facilities,” he wrote.

“I'm a huge fan of Camp Randall Stadium, but Wisconsin has to use it for all outdoor practices. Every other Big Ten team has an outdoor practice field.”

Rittenberg called Wisconsin’s indoor facility “so-so” and said the weight room “lacks the sizzle” of other major programs in the Big Ten and around the country.

“The good news,” Rittenberg said, “Wisconsin is building an athletic performance center that could be a game changer.”

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