PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Washington State athletic director Bill Moos was sure of one thing Tuesday as he showed off the new $61 million Cougar Football Complex.
"Now we take a backseat to nobody," Moos said as he gave a tour of the five-story building that houses all football operations for the Cougars, including locker room, weight room, cafeteria and coaches offices.
The building was made possible by the Pac-12's lucrative television contract, which will pay the Cougars an average of $20.5 million a year for 12 years.
The team will move into its new building, which is located behind one of the end zones, in mid-July.
In the arms race of college football, the Cougars needed to keep up with their Pac-12 competitors in the fight for top recruits, Moos said.
"We did not want to get left in the dust as the conference expanded," Moos said.
This continues an upward trend for Washington State, which has the smallest stadium and remotest campus in the Pac-12. Last year the Cougars built a new press box with luxury boxes. The year before they hired coach Mike Leach.
Quarterback Connor Halliday said the new building is a fantastic place to enjoy his senior season.
"This is head and shoulders above anything I have seen," Halliday said.
He recalled signing with the program in 2010, a time when the Cougars were struggling on the field and occupying rundown facilities.
"I said on signing day that I wanted to be part of the team that starts to get this place turned around," said Halliday, who led the Cougars to the New Mexico Bowl last season, their first postseason game in a decade.
Moos and his staff toured six programs when the new building was in the design phase — Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and LSU. They cherry picked the best features of the buildings they saw. Everything in the 84,000-square foot building is bigger and better than before, from the laundry room to the equipment room.
The tour started on the ground floor, which has a spacious locker room that Moos called "as good as it gets."
The custom-made lockers are set in wide aisles to accommodate big players. Each locker contains an exhaust system to dry out equipment. There are individual power outlets for cellphones and tablets.
Then it was upstairs to the cavernous weight room.
"This is where football teams are made," Moos said.
There were dozens of weight stations, abundant light streaming in through the windows, and a floor built on 400 springs to absorb the impact of falling weights.
There is a large room for sports medicine, where players can get taped and injuries can be treated. It includes hydro-therapy pools.
Each position has its own meeting room. There's also a 163-seat auditorium with oversized theater seats for meetings of the whole team.
A cafeteria will be open to all student-athletes at Washington State. The school has hired two European-trained chefs among a kitchen staff of a dozen to prepare three meals a day for athletes.
"You can't build a championship body on fast food," Moos said.
The top floor includes offices and a separate locker room for all the coaches. The office of the head coach has a magnificent view of the stadium, plus its own bathroom.
"This building is designed to develop our players," Moos said. "And it's just as important in attracting future players."