Georgia’s football program is still in the midst of moving, but the new digs are worth the trouble.
Boxes and picture frames line the floors of brand-new offices, and there is still much work to be done on the aesthetics of the expansion to the Butts-Mehre Building, but no one on staff seems to be complaining.
The Butts-Mehre expansion, which was geared specifically toward the football program and estimated to cost $39.5 million, now features what some members of the Athletic Association are calling “one of the elite football facilities in the entire country.”
Construction on the facility broke ground on July 1 and now includes a state-of-the-art digital film system, an indoor practice facility, a 12,000 square foot strength and conditioning area and a new training room complete with in-house X-ray equipment.
The preeminent new addition is a 20-yard by 60-yard indoor turf field, which provides coaches and players more flexibility with practice schedules. In the past, when inclement weather hit, the team was put on a time frame to decide whether to practice outside or indoors at the Ramsey Center.
“Now, you can just say, ‘We’ll go outside ’till the threat of lightning, and then we’ll come in here, wait it out, get some work done and then pop back out if the weather clears up,’” said associate athletic director of internal operations Josh Brooks, who gave a full tour of Butts-Mehre Wednesday afternoon. “Whereas before, once you make the call over at Ramsey, you’ve already locked up the buses, you’ve reserved the center, you kinda made one decision. This is going to give us more flexibility … this is gonna save a lot of headache right here just having the availability of this room.”
Brooks also pointed to the functionality of the facility — can even host coaching clinics with full audio and video presentations — as additional luxuries for the program.
Many critics have questioned Georgia’s decision to not invest in a full-size indoor field, but Brooks said that with the expansion being relatively land-locked the program had little choice but to scale down the facility. And though a separate, full-field indoor facility could be in the works down the line, the expansion meets all the coaches’ primary needs.
Keyless entry is used throughout the facility, with staff members and student-athletes moving from room to room by scanning fingerprints — providing another futuristic function to the aesthetically-pleasing facility.
“Any time of day we can restrict the players’ access or give them access when we want,” Brooks said. “We can set for the players’ area, for the locker room, meeting rooms, if we want to give them access from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., we can do that to where they don’t have to worry about a coach letting them in.”
Throughout the complex, coaches’ offices and meeting rooms are linked by an interlocking network giving the staff full access to game film, practice film and recruiting film at the push of a button. A new video system was a point of emphasis for the staff, namely head strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski. The result is one of the top digital film systems in all of football made available to Bulldog coaches and players.
And with film rooms as specific as the “Defensive Linemen Room” — complete with graphics of some of the top players on the line in Georgia history — the new film network weaves its way toward bringing Georgia closer to that “cutting edge” head coach Mark Richt spoke of weeks earlier.
And yes, Butts-Mehre truly appears to be on the cutting edge.
The weight room is stocked with glistening new equipment and a supplement station that provides student-athletes with “an individual smoothie with their name on it designed for what their needs are” after workouts.
The new 8,500 square foot training room has four pools, two of them with two treadmills each, and staffs a full-time massage therapist.
From the comfort of his own desk, in a beautiful wood-paneled office, Richt can even tune in to watch position meetings happening in all corners of his new empire.
“Our coaches and our players have at their fingertips — other than athletes, other than training them — the tools to be able to learn in the limited hours that they have with their coaches,” Tereshinski said.
The future has arrived, at least technologically, for Georgia football.
And with a dismal 2010 season in its rearview mirror, the program certainly does not mind moving on to something new.