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Gopher Football: Practice Facilities Update - Breaking Ground In Spring Per Coach Kill?

We take a quick look at the latest on the practice facilities front.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Practice facilities came to the forefront again over the weekend, as Coach Kill said the following while talking to the Big Ten Network crew:

Note the use of the "will be broken" language. Rather definitive no? Per Joe C though, the U isn't officially backing that timeframe yet:

I don’t know the context of Kill’s conversation with Dienhart, but I do know that the university has yet to set a formal timeline for building any new practice facilities. They remain in the "silent fundraising phase" of their $190 million facilities plan.

"We are going to break ground as soon as we possibly can; that hasn’t changed," Senior Associate Athletics Director Chris Werle said today.

So...ok, we don't actually know what's happening yet. Not definitively at least. I've seen some in the Gopher interwebs interpret this as a shot across Kahler's bow to get things moving, especially in light of how Kill spoke about the facilities at the Big Ten Media Days:

"I tell recruits, we’ve got a good idea where it’s going to be," Kill told reporters. "We’ve got spring ball starting. In April, we finalize it, and start getting in the ground as soon as we can.

"April would be [a good time] to me. They can even do it in December the way they work around here in the weather. … That’s what Coach wants, and that’s what we need, and anything different than that, I’m not going to be happy."

I'm not sure I buy that interpretation, but I see why someone might think that and I certainly don't discount it as a possibility.

Reaction and #TAKES

It's quite possible that last phrase was a shot. Or it's just Kill saying he'd be unhappy (which seems reasonable if the plan is to break ground in the Spring). My take is that it's unlikely Kill is taking potshots at Teague. Why? First, because ultimately it would be counterproductive. It creates uncertainty and sows doubt about happiness between the two, something that wouldn't help long term fundraising. Second, from all accounts Kill and Teague get along well. When Kill has needed anything from the admin, he's gotten it.

- More money for strength coaches? Check.

- More money for assistants? Check.

- A raise (though there's not indication publicly that he was demanding it)? Check.

- Improved training table and nutrition staff? Check.

- Better academic support structure? Check.

- Changing scheduled opponents to meet his goals for bowl games? Check.

Silent Fundraising - How Does It Work?

Honestly, I can't think of a single issue where they've been publicly out of synch. That doesn't mean this couldn't be the first, it just suggests to me that it's very unlikely.

How do I read Kill's statements? That the plan is to break ground in the Spring. As far as I can recall, these two instances are the sole times that Kill has called out a timetable. Given that the U is in the 12-18 month window where silent phase giving usually ends on a large capital project, it would make sense that the timetable would be more set and that Kill might be ready to say something about it. The fact that the U is publicly affirming the statements doesn't have to mean much. If they're preparing to close up the silent phase and move into the public phase (as Teague has suggested) then it wouldn't make sense to jump the gun when Kill's statements are not being widely discussed. It's completely reasonable to assume that Kill is very aware of where the fundraising is, what the timelines are, and what the ultimate plan is. There's no way Kill would let himself be in the dark on that (and if he was that's completely a situation I'd expect him to take public shots about). Given the definitive nature of his most recent statement (assuming that Dienhart is relaying it appropriately, no small assumption given his recent issues) I'm mentally prepared for spring to the timeframe in which the school breaks ground.

Facilitiesmas - The Unveiling

Do We Know What It Will Look Like Yet?

Nope. But we may have an idea beyond the conceptual images released when the facilities plan was announced. A pretty official looking (and reasonable looking) schematic was shared at GopherHole by a poster named GoGophers2005. The source of the image was completely glossed over (which isn't surprising if it is indeed an official image) so I need to note strongly that I cannot verify if the image is authentic. Assuming it is, we also don't know if this image is THE plan or one of several plans. However it's still the offseason, it's Monday, and it's fun to think about so I'm sharing it.


The first thing that jumps out at me when I see the image is that it's pretty different from the conceptual image released last year:


Differences? The GH image seems to be less transformative to the existing space.

- Football practice fields are in the same location as today.

- Rod Wallace field also doesn't move (though you'd have to assume it's getting torn down and rebuilt).

- The basketball practice facility and the second indoor practice facility for non-football sports takes the place of the new outdoor practice fields

- It's not clear where the wrestling facility and the other non-rev improvements are going.

- The Excellence Center (which should house both the academic center and training table/nutrition center) is still on the map.

Final Thoughts

We really won't know until we know, so ultimately this is still just conjecture and guesswork. While I've begun to make my own mental plans for how I'm betting things will look, I also know that I could end up being quite surprised (for better or worse). The joys of not being in the know, ya know?