Around the Country, Big 12, College Football

Texas Football: Moncrief Athletic Center

Texas is a state known for football. There’s undoubtedly no shortage of Division 1 schools in the state, but today I’m taking a look inside the one that was in my backyard! I grew up in a small suburb of Austin (though small definitely isn’t the word to describe it anymore) so all of my friends and their families were pretty much UT fans. But not us. Not in our house. My dad and I have always been Texas Tech fans. In fact, on my dad’s side it’s a pretty even split between Texas Tech and Baylor but on my mom’s side we are the only non-Aggies. We have a little nickname for the Longhorns in our family… the devil of college football. Whoops!
UT is one of those schools that you just love or hate. You can guess my position. But that’s how I was raised and in Texas, you’re raised on football! So forgive me. I set aside my bias though to visit a work friend, Bryan, who joined UT’s staff back in 2016 and just received a promotion to Director of Recruiting. Now, this little visit actually took place back in April when LSU was on spring break, and I’m JUST now getting around to posting it. I was trying to debate whether or not I could betray my team like this (kidding, actually I wanted a couple more pictures of the stadium before I posted). So Bryan was in the middle of spring ball but I was in the middle of vacation. This is how I spent my Easter!

The Moncrief Center is home to the football operations at UT. It’s located right off of their stadium, which we all know I’m a huge fan of. I’ve attended three Texas Tech games in this stadium, but this was my first time visiting their operations building. While the building itself is pretty old, they’ve kept it very updated (they do at least one update a year to something). That’s all thanks to donors… their donor base definitely keeps them in the facilities game, even if their team is struggling a little in recent years.
A major renovation was just approved for their actual stadium, which they desperately needed (we’ll see the field later). It’ll be cool to see how that turns out!

This lobby is known as their Hall of Fame and is the only area open to the public. This is actually the second floor of the building since their stadium is partly underground (this side of the stadium is on the side of a hill).

And, of course, you’ve got to honor Mack Brown right in the entryway. Mack Brown was one of their many legendary coaches and “retired” in 2013. I put that in quotations because he actually didn’t want to retire, but UT forced him to.
Mack Brown was UT’s head coach all through my years of growing up watching football. Oh, I HATED Mack Brown. With everything in me. In 2015, the Cotton Bowl was selected to host the first CFP National Championship game so I came back to work it. For the game, we didn’t have many responsibilities as I was in team events and those all took place the week leading up to the game. So we just found an empty suite and hung in there for the game. About 5 minutes before kick-off, in walks Mack Brown. And as much as the Texas Tech fan in me didn’t want to like him… oh, that’s a hard man not to like. So personable, so friendly, he’ll talk to you about anything! One of his 2004 National Championship players came with him and has since become a good friend of mine, too (Hi Quan – this is for you): I guess not all Longhorns are bad.

One thing you can’t deny around here is that there definitely isn’t a shortage of trophies. These are a few of their Big XII Championship trophies. We’ll get to the National Championship ones in a minute…

They definitely aren’t short on individual player awards either, which I thought was pretty cool to display. When individual players win trophies, they keep the original but the school has the option to purchase a duplicate. So really the school goes through all the trouble to ensure that their individual players’ achievements are honored, too, and I think that’s pretty cool. This is by far the biggest display for individual awards that I’ve seen at a program.

Something else unique about their displays are the portrait paintings up above. Those are hand-painted of each individual who received All-America honors.

… some of the most boring uniforms in college football though. Them, and Alabama. Not a fan. But I guess I’m so used to a new uniform almost every game that I’m a little biased. Well, I’m also a little biased for more than one reason! Okay, I’m (mostly) done.

This room was a room we didn’t have at Texas Tech… well, not yet.

UT has 4 National Championship titles with their most recent in 2005. Don’t ask a UT grad about 2009, though. The others were in 1963, 1969 and 1970 I believe. But all three of those were under Coach Darrell Royal, who their stadium is named after.

Again, they really do have nice displays for their football alumni. I can appreciate this. It’s been so long now that I can’t remember much of what I read but the stuff is really interesting. This room is considered part of the trophy room and is also open to the public.

Now’s where the fun stuff begins – the stuff that’s NOT open to the public! We started in the locker room which was accessed by this hallway here. This hallway actually lights up and moves according to body movement. It also plays sound according to body movement. It was pretty awesome!

Their graphics were pretty great, too.

Honestly this is a pretty typical locker room layout, with the core values of the team on display at the front. Given the recent string of events over the last few years in college sports, treating women with respect has become a big deal at universities. They instill it pretty much everywhere – through displays like these, classes, meetings, etc.

Some of the kids were in there watching TV. I would be too.

The actual lockers were probably the most incredible thing about the locker room, honestly. Each one comes with its own personal TV for their use. They can watch whatever they want. If you look at the first picture of the locker room, they have their name and picture displayed on the TV, but it’s fully functional and can be used to watch whenever they want. It’s also theirs to keep.

All active NFL alumni also have their own personal lockers in the locker room for whenever they are back in town during off-season. I’ve actually never seen this at a school before and thought this was an awesome idea! It keeps them interactive with the current players and is a great way to lead by example. More schools should do this.

Their weight room was pretty impressive, too. Each weight rack has a camera that digitizes their workouts for analyzing. The technology that goes into sports now would just blow you away. It’s incredible. And the stuff they come up with and are able to do…

I mean, for having pretty plane Jane uniforms… this display is great. Again, the graphics. UT’s graphics around their facility really just are awesome. Super simple display but it’s a good one. These two uniforms are their only uniforms – one home and one away. They’re one of the few teams left that stick with two combinations. But, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tom Herman (their new coach) change this. He’s a young guy and plays into the materialism of recruiting. I don’t know anything for sure, but it wouldn’t shock me! Especially if he does well. Year 1 was a little rough for him but UT fans are behind him.

At LSU, we do student-athletes of the month in academics. You’d be shocked at how excited the kids get when they are selected. It’s not necessarily based on grades or academic performance, but more based on improvement, good test scores, effort, and so on. Doing stuff like this goes a long way with the students, so it’s good to see UT display this so prominently.

They love the Rose Bowl at UT, so you’ll see that everywhere. But they definitely aren’t short on bowl appearances, either.

All of these trophies are on display in the trophy lobby but here they are again in a list form. I didn’t know UT only had two Heisman winners though. I would’ve guessed one or two more. And I was shocked to see it hadn’t been anyone recently. Colt McCoy? Vince Young? I didn’t realize neither of them won it. People were obsessed with them.

When I went to Kentucky (see their football facility here!”), I mentioned that they were the only school that I’d see do the gloves instead of helmets for their NFL display. Guess there’s another!

“Texas, Fight” is obviously their fight song, and they’re very proud of it! It’s better than “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You” … that sound creeps me out a little. Whoops.
The helmets go in order from oldest to newest, too. That’s interesting to check out. Can see why they never made an orange one again, though!

The Red River Rivalry between the two worst teams in college football… kidding, but really, I don’t think I could pick who I disliked more as a Tech fan between the two. But moving on, there’s an entire wall dedicated to this rivalry, and it definitely is one of the best in college football. The river that separates the bottom of Oklahoma from the top of Texas is literally red because of the clay in the ground. Honestly, the rivalry isn’t just between Texas and Oklahoma football. It’s between anything and everything Oklahoma! It’s pretty hysterical.
That countdown is way off since this was in March. That game always takes place the first weekend in October and is also when the Texas State Fair happens in Dallas. That is one wild weekend. I highly suggest it, even if you don’t attend the game (because tickets are, like, $200+)!

This TV runs nothing but Red River Rivalry games and highlights.

… and this TV (the little corner you can see) runs nothing but the Longhorn Network.
The Longhorn Network is the ESPN television network for only UT. Want the rest of the conference to hate you? Do something like this. A lot of my dislike from UT stems from their selfish moves like this one. Big 10 Network, SEC Network, Pac-12 Network… that’s what you do. But UT doesn’t like to play nice with others so they have their own. It hasn’t done very well, and I really don’t know how much longer it lasts. Their contract isn’t up, though, so it’s still around.

Their training room was fairly small in size compared to others but I believe this is football only.

Bryan filled me in on this story and I’m so upset that I can’t remember much about it. But what a great tribute. This is right in the middle of the players’ tunnel entrance and they run past it during every home game entrance. There’s a film on it that I really want to watch. Freddie’s story is that he played at UT and passed away from a lost battle with cancer during his junior year. Stuff like that breaks my heart but it seems like Freddie definitely left a legacy behind and will never be forgotten.

We always sit on the visitor’s side of the stadium in the opposite end zone so I’ve never seen this tunnel so close up! Usually it’s very, very tiny from our nosebleed seats! They also keep the player families on the opposite side of the stadium so whenever the school gave us tickets we were far away. Probably not a bad strategy!

Texas Relays was going on while I was in town visiting so all of these are high school athletes warming up. Texas Relays is a chaotic time in Austin.

Their scoreboard used to be one of the biggest and the best in college football. It’s a little outdated now, but I have no doubt that part of the stadium renovation budget is going towards this.

This is Bevo’s home – Bevo is their live mascot. When I was little, I loved Bevo! I still think Bevo’s pretty cute today. But Raider Red has my heart.

I’ll be back in this stadium on September 7, 2019 for the Texas vs. LSU game. And considering Texas Tech is on a winning streak against our enemy, I’ll probably be back here later in 2019 for our next away game against them! But hopefully we can pull out the win for the 4th year in a row in Lubbock this year… ’cause I’ll be at that game, too!



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