- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
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We’re coming to your city. Permanently, Tallahassee.
A replica “College GameDay” stage in Florida State’s football offices is among a series of planned facilities renovations the university announced last week. Florida State worked with Advent, which has consulted numerous programs about facility renovations, and the upgrades will begin taking shape next month.
The idea to build a “College GameDay” set was one that came internally, though, pitched by Mark Robinson, Florida State’s director of football operations.
“It was more we need to show people our historical value of how many times we’ve been on ‘GameDay,’” senior associate athletic director Monk Bonasorte told ESPN.com.
While the ability to take a picture on the “College GameDay” set -- Lee Corso in the background, feathered spear in hand perhaps? -- will provide an unparalleled photo opportunity, it is the new locker room that has recruits buzzing. College football is in the midst of a facilities arms race, and the recruiting benefits are among the chief reasons. Citing a 2012 survey of college football players, Forbes.com reported a program’s facilities ranked fourth among the most important factors to recruits. Within the last few years, Arizona, California, LSU, Texas A&M and Washington have all doled out more than $100 million on facility facelifts.
Florida State spent $15 million to build an indoor practice field this past August, and Bonasorte said while the university is taking advantage of the national championship, the administration and coach Jimbo Fisher were discussing the plans prior to January’s BCS title win. These latest blueprints redesigning the locker room and football offices have hit their intended mark with elite recruits.
The locker room will showcase silhouette statues of all of players whose jerseys Florida State has retired. Also, above each player’s locker will be a list of previous FSU greats who wore the same number, Bonasorte said, although no plans are finalized.
“With our program, we got to be careful, how do you list every person?” Bonasorte said. “We’re working through that, but that’s an idea we came up with.”
One name and number certain to be in the locker room is that of Heisman winner Chris Weinke, whose jersey is retired. Coincidentally, the No. 1 recruit in the 2015 class, Jashon Cornell, wears the same number, and has Florida State among his top schools. Should he sign with the Noles, he would have Weinke’s name next to his on his No. 16 locker. (Although the jersey is retired, the No. 16 is not out of circulation.)
Gauging Cornell’s response to the new locker room design, the Noles might have moved up on his list of favorites.
“I have one word for you: gorgeous,” Cornell said. “I really like the facilities. Maybe 20 percent of my decision [will be based on facilities].”
Stan Wilcox, still in his first year as Florida State athletic director, said in February that FSU needs to monitor what others are doing with facilities to make sure his program is not lagging. Wilcox was hired on Aug. 7, just one day after Florida State cut the ribbon on its indoor practice facility.
“In order to stay in front of the curve, we have to look at our facilities,” Wilcox told ESPN.com last month. “… [W]e have to attract the best athletes we possibly can, and student-athletes these days are savvy consumers.”
Seminoles.com provided a tour of the proposed designs.