Last spring, during one of Oklahoma State's spring scrimmages, a huge, lightning-laced storm struck. Just warmed up and stretched, the Cowboys were herded under the Boone Pickens Stadium seats where they waited out the storm for more than an hour. Eventually they returned to the field, but the workout — one of a precious few during the spring — had to be altered.
The day in late March was a picture-perfect example of how an indoor practice facility can — and soon will — benefit OSU.
Indoor facilities have become increasingly common across the country as more money pours into college athletics. That's not to say that every high-profile school has one. Last August, Georgia coach Mark Richt complained to the press about his lack of indoor practice space after a practice was rained out, and soon after, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville grumbled that his was too small.
Oklahoma is a good example of the other side of the trend. The OU athletics department already has two indoor practice facilities with two more planned — practice facilities for baseball and softball. When OSU's athletic village is complete, the facilities in Stillwater will be comparable.
Indoor facilities are not necessarily used on a daily basis. Most coaches prefer to practice outside in the elements they will play games in whenever possible, but OSU coach Mike Gundy said there are plenty of situations where being able to get inside will help.
"We'll use it throughout the year,” Gundy said. "It will help us during bowl preparations, the off-season summer workouts and any time there's a threat of lightning.”
In part because of a $20 million donation from alumnus Sherman Smith, OSU will soon become the 10th school in the Big 12 to have an indoor practice facility. Athletic director Mike Holder said he is hopeful that, if things go according to plan, construction will start on the Sherman Smith Training Center on Oct. 1. The building is projected to cost $40-50 million.