Facilities upgrade under way at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Kirk Ferentz always has been honest, sometimes perhaps too honest, about the inherent challenges Iowa faces.

The Hawkeyes aren't located in the most populated state in the Big Ten footprint. Their local recruiting base is limited. There's good on-field tradition, but not as much as there is at other Big Ten programs. Ferentz has built his program on maxing out the talent and resources that are present.

But things should be getting easier in the coming years.

Driving up to Kinnick Stadium today, I couldn't help noticing all the construction going on. The outer shell of the team's new indoor practice facility is up, and the plan also calls for new football offices, meeting rooms, a weight room, etc. There are some renderings of what will be built in Iowa's football atrium, including one of a player with a striking resemblance to former Hawkeyes star Adrian Clayborn entering a spacious team meeting room. The indoor facility is set to be completed this summer, and Ferentz expects to be in the new building, which might even include an office with windows, by the start of the 2014 season.

After briefly getting lost in the current complex and finding my way to the entrance to the "bubble," the team's antiquated indoor facility, I can see an upgrade is needed.

"The most important part of the equation are the people involved," Ferentz told ESPN.com. "Iowa's always had a strong tradition of having great people. That, to me, is as important as anything. But facilities are a big part of the equation, too. All the Big Ten schools are great academically, most of them are pretty good facility-wise.

"It's important for us to be right there, and we're taking the steps that need to be taken."