The college football facilities arms race is officially over, with Oregon unveiling its $68-million Football Performance Center to the world this week.
Among the highlights of the gaudy monstrosity is a barbershop for players, an office for new head coach Mark Helfrich overlooking the practice field, a two-story theatre with a 30-foot projection screen that retracts to reveal Autzen Stadium, Brazilian hardwood in the weight room and a sky-bridge with an art installation of a flock of ducks, each one signifying an Oregon player drafted into the NFL.
The new Oregon building marks the pinnacle of a building boom in the Pac-12, flush with new television revenue. California, USC and Utah have all opened new facilities in the last two years, while Arizona, UCLA, Washington and Washington State have projects under construction or in the planning stages.
But Oregon isn't merely taking aim at its conference rivals. The Football Operations Center makes recent renovations at Alabama look like the Crimson Tide simply splashed on a new coat of paint.
Does it matter? Oh yeah, especially when combined with Oregon's wild uniforms and wildly successful blur offense. Oregon has dramatically upgraded its talent levels the past few years, which leads to the Ducks putting four players on Daniel Jeremiah's Talented Top 50 list. All-purpose back De'Anthony Thomas was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. Tight end Colt Lyerla and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu were four-star prospects.
You can't win without great players, something that Knight understands better than most, given his business relationships with Michael Jordan among many other exceptional athletes. Knight understands the resources necessary to bring them into the fold, and that means he will simply outspend anyone hoping to outdo his new gift to Oregon.
Knight and Oregon have sent a message to the rest of college football: You can build it, but you just can't top us.