Coming up with lists and rankings are great for debate. In the case of the recent Big East facility rankings, they are great for massive debate.
I understand every fan base believes its school, program and facilities are the best. So this mailbag is for you to sound off against my list. Let me just say a few things up front. I will reiterate again that I needed some help from Brian Bennett, because I have only been to Rutgers, USF, Pitt and Temple.
What I should have done initially was lay out my criteria for the rankings. So here is an explainer: I took into account football facilities -- that means coaches offices, team meeting rooms, weight rooms, indoor/outdoor practice facilities, training centers, academic centers, player amenities and how the facilities fit on campus. Are they new, old, ready to undergo upgrades? Are they close to everything on campus or far away? Stadiums also weighed heavily, including whether they are on campus or off. What type of game-day experience do they provide?
Pitt fans are beside themselves with the rankings, mainly because I said the practice facility was shared and technically not theirs. Let me clarify. The Pitt practice facility belongs to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and is part of a larger orthopedic and rehab facility. Both Pitt football and the Steelers are co-tenants in the building they share. But they each have their own offices, meeting rooms, practice fields and training rooms. The biggest area they share would be the indoor practice facility.
One other note: The facility also is not directly on the main campus -- though it is a short drive away. Heinz Field is about four miles away from campus.
Now let's here from all of you ...
Ryan in Pittsburgh writes: Andrea, you need to do some fact checking. ... For Heinz Field, both the Steelers and Pitt Panthers rent the stadium from the city. Heinz Field is not that far from campus, 10-minute ride at most. South side facilities are 5 minutes tops from campus. While they may not technically be on campus you can at least state these facts correctly. Never once have read a recruit complain about the facilities being off campus. Rather they rave about how they are world class.
Lance in Pittsburgh writes: While I can't argue Pitt screwed the pooch by tearing down Pitt Stadium to play in Heinz Field and it hurt the atmosphere, I wanted to point out your misinformation in your facility article. Heinz Field was paid for the by the state and the Rooneys (Steelers) operate the stadium and pay rent to play there. However the shared practice facility was built and paid for by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and is aptly named that. The Steelers pay rent to use that facility. Pitt was not an afterthought in either Heinz Field or the UPMC Complex. The taxpayers voted down Heinz Field and it was not until Pitt got on board that the then Governor gave the money to build it because Pitt is a state institution. The gates have both Panthers & Steelers equally noted in them, the seats have a panther logo one one side.
Pitt Panther writes: Heinz Field is 8,000 feet from the Pitt campus. There is no way that Rutgers Stadium is superior to Heniz Field. It looks like a high school stadium with bench seating and everything made of wood. There is enough red paint to die the Allegheny river red! It looks horrific.
Joe Farrell in Tampa writes: I don't understand the methodology in comparing Big East facilities. What is the knock on USF? They have the best stadium in the conference. I understand it is not on campus, but the students don't seem to mind since they fill their section every game, and it's the biggest student section in the conference. I know the non-student fans are in no hurry to get a campus stadium. We love it. Like you said, RayJay is a really nice stadium, and it's in a great location. If stadiums are that big a deal then UConn doesn't belong on the list at all.
Eric in Tampa writes: Seriously AA, you have UC's facilities ranked way too low. In terms of planning, our density and proximity/location in the heart of campus is ideal for students and players. Plus, Nippert Stadium has a historic feel with architectural character. You can not just replicate that from scratch. And any team that has to travel to their home field (Pitt, USF, UConn) has to be lower.
I think Chris in Louisville summed up everybody's comments the best: I love my dog. I have, hands down, the best dog in the whole world. And I'm annoied at the stupidity of people that just can't see that my dog is SO much better than everyone else's dog.