Dooley leads tour of Tennessee's new practice facility

Coach Derek Dooley shows off the new Football Training Center on Thursday at the University of Tennessee. The 145,000 square-foot project is scheduled for completion this summer. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Coach Derek Dooley shows off the new Football Training Center on Thursday at the University of Tennessee. The 145,000 square-foot project is scheduled for completion this summer. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Derek Dooley calls it the one-word test.

Even with five months remaining until the Tennessee coach and his assistants move into the top floor of the new, $45 million football practice facility, Dooley considers it a failure if he doesn't hear it whenever he leads tours through the 145,000 square-foot shell of a building.

Wow.

"If they don't go wow, then we hadn't done our job," Dooley said. "There should be no other comment except wow. That was the only standard I had."

The new Football Training Facility includes a large player's lounge overlooking Haslam Field. The building includes an amphitheater-style team room, coaches offices, a dining hall, a 7,000-square foot locker room, a 22,000-square foot weight room and hydrotherapy area. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

The new Football Training Facility includes a large player's lounge overlooking Haslam Field. The building includes an amphitheater-style team room, coaches offices, a dining hall, a 7,000-square foot locker room, a 22,000-square foot weight room and hydrotherapy area. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Dooley led the News Sentinel on exclusive tour Thursday through the new facility, which could become the new standard in the SEC recruiting arms race. Noises of all sorts hummed through the air as Dooley strode through the building, level by level, as if it were a house he'd inhabited for decades.

Although the original plans for the facility — which is really an addition to the building that hosts both the Brenda Lawson Athletic Center and Neyland-Thompson Sports Center — were drafted two coaches ago in 2008, Dooley's fingerprints are all over it. Upon his hiring in 2010, Dooley brought in his own consultant and made a number of changes that initially rubbed prominent donor Charles Anderson, who pledged $8 million toward the project, the wrong way.

The air has long since cleared and production, at least from a visible perspective, has picked up dramatically. The first move-in is set for July. The Stokely Center must be vacated by the end of the year. Employees currently housed at Stokely will move into offices now housing the UT football staff.

"This building will impact our program more than the stadium," Dooley said. "This is where the players live."

The $45-million, 145,000-square-foot practice facility is slated for completion this fall. The facility caused a stir when then new coach Derek Dooley asked to use his own consultant to make $9 million in changes to the project. The tiff nearly led to the withdrawal of an $8 million gift from donor and UT Trustee Charlie Anderson. In the end, the changes were made and the new facility now includes, among other features, a mixed martial arts cage.

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

The $45-million, 145,000-square-foot practice facility is slated for completion this fall. The facility caused a stir when then new coach Derek Dooley asked to use his own consultant to make $9 million in changes to the project. The tiff nearly led to the withdrawal of an $8 million gift from donor and UT Trustee Charlie Anderson. In the end, the changes were made and the new facility now includes, among other features, a mixed martial arts cage.

He means that figuratively, but he wants it to be close to literal. That's why, along with all of the areas dedicated exclusively to football, there are massive spaces reserved for a players' lounge and an academic center.

"If they're over here, then two things are going on," Dooley said. "They're not getting in any trouble and they're probably doing something productive as it relates to football, eating, school or building a team."

The new building will have four areas that Dooley considers to be recruiting showpieces: the weight room, the grand team meeting room, the hydro therapy room and an eating area that Dooley will refer to only as a "restaurant."

Players will be able to walk straight from the 120-yard practice field into the new weight room — a 22,000 square foot "multilevel thunderdome of power," as it's called in UT's promotional video for the facility. Along with the standard free weights, machines, cardiovascular training equipment — which will be situated on a deck that overlooks the weight room — and a nutrition bar, it will feature a mixed martial arts cage "so we can go in and fight and all that stuff," Dooley said.

"There won't be one (a weight room) nicer in the country than this and it's got the high ceilings," Dooley said. "It gives you that feeling 'this place is enormous.'"

The weight room leads straight into the 7,000 square foot locker room, which will feature 125 lockers equipped to charge iPods and cellphones. The area is spacious compared to UT's current changing area and more secluded from other male and female student-athletes.

"When you have 120 guys in a room and half the time they're not dressed, you need a little room so you're not bumping into each other," Dooley said.

The 3,600 square foot hydro therapy center, which Dooley calls a "real showpiece" because of the friendly-on-the-eyes appeal of flowing water, will have access to and from the training center and will house two underwater treadmills, two hot-cold tubs and a 40-foot lap pool.

The grand meeting room is built like a true amphitheater with a slanted ceiling, room for 165 Vols who will sit in custom-designed chairs and a massive space on the wall for a high-definition projection screen.

"This," Dooley said, "is my baby here."

Dooley and his assistant coaches will move into offices that overlook the south end zone of the indoor practice facility. They will have close access to a slew of meeting rooms that had their size increased throughout the construction process — "a midstream, halftime adjustment," Dooley said.

The current main entrance to the Brenda Lawson Center will serve as the revamped, grand opening to the new football facility. Prospective student-athletes will see the indoor practice field through glass on the right and can either be whisked into a wing devoted exclusively to recruiting or can browse through a UT sports museum of sorts that will feature a "Peyton Manning Room."

"We don't have anywhere that celebrates our tradition in winning. Anywhere," Dooley said, who added that the museum was not in the original design. "When I got here, I'm like, 'Where's all the stuff?'"

Nearly 25 years since it was built, the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center remains one of the preeminent indoor football facilities in the country. It was one of the first, though, and there has been plenty of time — ages by the new, win-now standards of the SEC — for the competition to make up ground.

"Tennessee got behind," Dooley said. "We did some great things with our stadium, but where the players live ... we didn't have what we needed."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 60

brianarauch#206642 writes:

Wow! It does sound amazing. Now, let's hope it translates into results!

formerflgranny writes:

WOW, It looks awesome, wonder if they could make room for granny to live there also?

born2ride writes:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

formerflgranny writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

If you were born2ride, why don't you get on your tricycle and paddle on out of here?

jbvols50#207168 writes:

born2ride writes:
Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

I disagree with "born2ride"...I hope Dooley is there for 25 years, because that will indicate he got us back to the top! Disappointing any Vol fan would be hoping for his failure.

AllforTenn writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

Some people know nothing about coaching or the job being done by coaches, so they show their ignorance by making comments like yours.

wildmed writes:

No doubt about it, the infrastructure is certainly in place. Facilities-wise, I can't understand why the Vols ever should be off the list of championship contenders. Time to get it done.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

I hope he is in it for many years. That would equate to winning. Why do you want to keep losing. You have gone Vandy like.

NewMarketVol writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

Why dont you stay off this site for very long!!

UT2006 writes:

any links to a "virtual tour"

Clad_In_Big_Orange writes:

in response to UT2006:

any links to a "virtual tour"

atributetoLombardiwasbanned writes:

in response to AllforTenn:

Some people know nothing about coaching or the job being done by coaches, so they show their ignorance by making comments like yours.

Ease up on Born2ride Jeff'sGrantlandRedBean.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Born to ride ( excuse me, Born to lose ).........
is ticked off because he is not privy to the new facilities.

Born to lose is only privy to his little keyboard...............what a pitiful little losing/troll.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

You probably never even played sports. If you did, you were "Born 2 Ride the Pine".

deputy658 writes:

in response to UT2006:

any links to a "virtual tour"

Go to UTsports.com and you can take a virtual tour of this facility. I have and it is awesome. I can't wait to take it in person. We will now be able to get visits from prospects who before would not use a visit on UT. Once recruits see this facility close up it is going to give them a lot to think about. Just watched an interview with Chaney and Sunseri and I was impressed . I beleive Sunseri is going to build one of the premiere defenses in the country. Chaney was very honest and said with the offensive product that UT put on the field this year that he could not have gotten another job ,even if he wanted one. He promises that 2012 will feature a high powered explosive attack. GO VOLS!!!!!!!

botetourtvol2 writes:

Wow... be careful what you ask for - thanks for the virtual link - hope they have maximized the views of the river - bridges - stadium etc......

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to formerflgranny:

If you were born2ride, why don't you get on your tricycle and paddle on out of here?

He probably can't reach the pedals! lol

Can't wait to see the finished product!

VolzsFan writes:

That nameless Coach 2 Coaches ago happens to be a Hall of Famer, most successful coach in school history and the one that made all of these facilities and interest level (before he was fired) at an unbelievable high. Gribble must not remember his name. I mean the Stadium is on the road that bares his name. Sad that they could not mention his name.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Got a facility like this and you still finish 10th in the SEC in recruiting?

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Things are coming around. You can't rebuild overnight. It comes in phases folks. Although every team has players getting in trouble from time to time, Dooley has done a masterful job reducing that kind of thing. Once the foundation gets stronger the house can go up. I'm looking forward to the day other teams dread coming to our house again. I don't believe it will be long. I see a significant improvement in 2012.

I believe in the players and coaches. We are UT and people will have to deal with us soon!

Go Vols!

crappieking writes:

Bill Cowher will love this new facility.

RockVegas writes:

I wish they showcase the new facility when we are trying to recruit.I know it's going to be a great building,but we need to get in the players to use it.Hopefully CDD can start winning this football season if not we need a new coach for the new facility....GBO.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Very nice. The plan is coming together quite well.

wigmeister writes:

We have the facilities. We have the coaches. Hopefully, we have the players needed. Now it is time to pull up the pants and get to it. Time for a turnaround in 2012!

tennezz writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

Lets hope you are never in the building or ever see it!

chattabluetick writes:

Give CDD 2012 and 2013 then see where we are. He inherited a mess unlike what Saban walked into at Bama.Give him the 4 years he deserves like any other new coach. If none of them contain at least 8, 9, or 10 wins then look elsewhwere. We are trying to rebuild in the toughest conference in the country. Plus normally we are strapped with one of the worst league schedules. The SEC is still cheating 5 teams in the East because they have to travel to true road games between the hedges at Georgia and The Swamp at Florida. Those teams have their cocktail party at a neutral field thus they get out of a killer road game.I believe Tennesse would take that deal- Georgia at home and Florida on a neutral field-- no trip to the swamp or Florida at home and Georgia on a neutral field-- no trip between the hedges. Either way you slice it, it gives them an advantage over the rest of the teams in the East. Plus unlike other foes in the East Bama is waiting on the Tennessee schedule every year!

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

Got a facility like this and you still finish 10th in the SEC in recruiting?

You're a real genius.
Try reading the article once again, & there is a possibility you may comprehend enough details to discover the facility is currently under construction, and will not be completed until this summer.
Furthermore, even in a "down year" we still finished in the top 20 in recruiting, per Rivals. Not surprisingly, you quote the amature hour that is Scout. We'll be just fine.
Finally, while your IQ may be embarrassing low, it is not necessary to advertise such handicaps for us all to see.

Go Vols

brokendownoldvol writes:

Weird. TN spends big money on everything except coaches.

jawga writes:

No mention of the underground tunnel to avoid the media after another tough loss to KY or Barbara's Media Room.

GONAVY writes:

The largest recruiting budget in the NCAA. A 102,000 seat stadium on campus. Multi-million dollar upgrades to that stadium. A $45 MM addition/structure for the football facilities/offices. A diehard fan base. And the 2012 season is on the horizon. What to expect? The million dollar question.

txvolsfan writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

as a True fan, I hope that CDD is in there for many years and holds many glass footballs in there. I for one want all our current coaches to flourish and win championships in Big Orange!!!
GO VOLS
TXVOLSFAN (A REAL VFL)

jack_2222#231746 writes:

Actually it's a blessing Dooley is here to enhance the facility. Lil lane would have put in a USC museum. Dooley's been around and he's savvy on this stuff. Don't know if he can coach, but his being so involved will make this place better.

sameolvolalum writes:

in response to chattabluetick:

Give CDD 2012 and 2013 then see where we are. He inherited a mess unlike what Saban walked into at Bama.Give him the 4 years he deserves like any other new coach. If none of them contain at least 8, 9, or 10 wins then look elsewhwere. We are trying to rebuild in the toughest conference in the country. Plus normally we are strapped with one of the worst league schedules. The SEC is still cheating 5 teams in the East because they have to travel to true road games between the hedges at Georgia and The Swamp at Florida. Those teams have their cocktail party at a neutral field thus they get out of a killer road game.I believe Tennesse would take that deal- Georgia at home and Florida on a neutral field-- no trip to the swamp or Florida at home and Georgia on a neutral field-- no trip between the hedges. Either way you slice it, it gives them an advantage over the rest of the teams in the East. Plus unlike other foes in the East Bama is waiting on the Tennessee schedule every year!

Spot on post. Convincing the naysayers and trolls that good coming out of negativity is about as achievable as convincing my wife to quit shopping. There are just far too many positive situations in the works to justify such intense pessimism. That these good recruits and new excellent assistant coaches came here due to their high opinion of CDD gives credible testimony to his competence. The detractors are like gnats in that....no matter how often you swat them....they're still zit-flitting around. Barring a re-occurrence of key injuries, the 2012 Vols SHOULD be extremely competitive. I'd be willing to bet coaches all over the SEC realize this, also.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

Me thinks somebodies jealous......hahahahaha.

thevoice writes:

in response to AllforTenn:

Some people know nothing about coaching or the job being done by coaches, so they show their ignorance by making comments like yours.

I too hope Dooley is here a long time, but his history begs otherwise. Dooley's been a head coach for 5 years. What additional competency proof do you need?
UT: 11-14 (4-12)
La T: 17-20 (12-12)
Total: 28-34 (16-24)

I've never coached, but those numbers tell me how good someone else is at it. Regardless of how good you or anyone think Dooley is, he is almost exclusively judged by his record. We can hope all we want, but in many cases, the best way to predict the future is look to the past. I don't care if it's Derek Dooley or Derek Fisher. And I think most on here feel the exact same way. We're disappointed with Dooley because he led our team to 2 consecutive losing seasons, lost to KY, and his teams pull a no-show in the 2nd half. Furthermore, he shows absolutely nothing that encourages me to think he'll compete in SEC games in 2012. Again, nothing. He picked the wrong conference to learn how to coach.

Nothing personal against Dooley, but the quicker he leaves, the quicker this program turns around with a better hire. What about his record makes anyone think otherwise?

Intelligent response only...

thevoice writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know you may be a Vandy fan, but whatever...

I wish he wasn't our coach now, but unless he loses 6 or more, the program will keep him through the 2013 season. If nothing else, no buyout $$ required. Silence is deadening, like the silence about any contract extension. 9 wins in 2012 may get that extension, but 7 or less won't.

thevoice writes:

in response to brokendownoldvol:

Weird. TN spends big money on everything except coaches.

+1. However, I don't think they could have gotten a big-name coach after what Kiffy did. Same for basketball.

thevoice writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, as far as Martin, I think we fared much better. Still a small pool from which to choose though. I'm giving him a pass this year; he does things that encourage me, unlike anything related to Dooley. I just don't get the vibes that people like coaching for, playing for, or working with him.

volforeverandever writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well I see the idiots from the asylem are lose today.Coach Dooley will be here this time next year and you will be babeling about something else that doesn`t please you.Get over it,Dooley is here for awhile.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to born2ride:

Lets hope Dooley is not in the new building very long.

After a long week sometimes its hard not to make stupid statement. Hang in there, a new week is only short time away.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

What a troll-tandem.................poor ole' Jeff and Merlot.

They give the description of a sorry/losing/whiny troll.............an emphatic exclamation point.

JJFabulous writes:

This is just the type of facility the Vols need to train a wide receiver to quarterback a win and end a long losing streak to Florida. But that could never happen.....

OwensboroVol writes:

I am impressed with the verbal tour. I would really like to take a "for real" tour sometime in the future if I live that long. The main thing is for recruits to know that the Tennessee Volunteers are going to provide them with everything they need to be successful students, college football players, and will provide everything for them to have a real opportunity to advance to the NFL. A lot of these 17-18 year old High School players are selecting their colleges based on who provides them the best opportunity to play in the NFL. This new facility looks to be a recruiting gem!

Tennfan4075 writes:

in response to brokendownoldvol:

Weird. TN spends big money on everything except coaches.

Wrong my friend. Tennessee does spend big money on coaches, but it's after the coaches leave when they are paid severance settlements.

allvol8 writes:

in response to botetourtvol2:

Wow... be careful what you ask for - thanks for the virtual link - hope they have maximized the views of the river - bridges - stadium etc......

Definitely a wow factor

allvol8 writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your opinions wreak the odor of flatuence and are just as annoying

jawga writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You forgot the Orange Dog & CDD's war stories.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

NEVER forget that ALL of the negative nincompoops ARE only 2 people that have many names on here.

They're NOT Tennessee fans and NEVER have been.

They're mosr useless than cow phooey because at least cow phooey is useful as fertiliser and these Pcychotic losers are useful for nothing except practice for student Psychiatrists.

Anyone that actually DOES know college football and where our program was before CDD had the courage to take on this challenge DOES know that CDD has done a good job so far.

AD Hart could have use the Kentucky loss as a excuse to fire CDD if he'd wanted to but AD Hart knows college football and what it takes to rebuild a program as well as anyone in America does and he likes the plan that CDD put in place and he sees exactly where CDD is taking our Vols football program.

CDD is simply NOT going anywhere for at least 2 more years so NEVER believe the total LIES posted on here by the posers/trolls/life ong Losers that come here every single day and only PROVE that everything I've said about them is true.

VFL...GBO!!!

Vol_USArmy_Soldier writes:

in response to jawga:

You forgot the Orange Dog & CDD's war stories.

and you forgot the part about not being able to sleep at night because the...um...errr...game that shall never be spoken of again. It never happened.

Pompey writes:

.....UT'facilities have always exceeded the product that we have put on the field....sad but true!

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