When Jim Mora was hired as UCLA's head football coach in December 2011, he made it clear that the school was far behind the rest of the Pac-12 in facilities. He promised a new commitment to football in Westwood, which included a massive upgrade in facilities.
At the time, UCLA was undergoing a feasibility study for a facility upgrade. That included Spaulding Field, which doesn't have a full-length field, and a football-specific facility, which is the norm around the country, but absent at UCLA.
That was 20 months ago, and UCLA still hasn't put a shovel in the ground. And that is why UCLA, as was the case years ago, still has the worst football facilities in the Pac-12.
Neuheisel: "The facilities (throughout the conference) were the most eye-opening thing ... UCLA is dead last in facilities."— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) August 27, 2013
Neuheisel said the Bruins needed an upgrade when he was head coach. And when he was fired.
More said the Bruins needed an upgrade when he was hired. And still says it today.
So where is the progress? It's in a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which asks architects to express their interest in building a new football building west of Spaulding Field. That is the result of 20 months of work.
And once the RFQ is out, architectural firms still have to bid, there has to be a interview process and then the winner has to be chosen. By the time that is all done, the 2013 season will be halfway done and by the time anyone can put a shovel in the ground, it will have been two years -- at the earliest -- since Mora was hired and made facilities a priority.
The RFQ calls for a $30-35 million facility, which is pales in comparison to the $68 million building that Oregon just opened, but they're Oregon. They have Italian marble and is Italian marble really necessary?
But then again, Washington St. spent $61 million to build their new facility, Tennessee spent $45 million on their building, Arkansas spent $35 million in theirs and Utah dropped $32 million on their new football facility. And you can bet that money goes a lot further in Pullman, Knoxville, Fayetteville and Salt Lake City than it does in LA. So what is UCLA really getting out of the Spaulding West Building compared to their competitors?
In recent years, nearly every Pac-12 school has massively upgraded their facilities. Oregon, Arizona, Washington and Utah all opened new facilities for this season and USC and Cal opened their new buildings last year. Oregon St. overhauled their football facilities a few years ago and Arizona St. and Colorado have unveiled plans for upgrades well over $100 million (for both stadium and football-specific building renovations and builds). Only Stanford hasn't gone on a football spending spree, but they have plans to add to their already good facility in the next couple years to further improve what they have.
Everyone else in the Pac-12 is making major investments in football, and UCLA said they would too ... 20 months ago. Since then, the bar has been raised even higher by their competitors in the conference and UCLA hasn't had anything new to share on their plans. After all this, and with facilities that have been ranked "dead last,' UCLA better have something spectacular coming because adequate is sub-par in the new Pac-12.