Not only was this the second week in a row that I was melting in my seat, but this was the second week in a row my game ended with a last-second field goal victory! I traveled to Auburn for the first time this weekend to watch MY Tigers take on THEIR Tigers. And, wow, was it worth the 6-hour drive.
Auburn has been on my list for awhile… really ever since their video of their Recruiting Center’s awesome revamp was released (check out CBS’s video of it here!). But now, I no longer need the video of it – I got to see the real thing! Along with their practice facilities, players’ lounge, and Jordan-Hare Stadium on game day!
Even though I started off with their football offices and practice facilities first, I just can’t wait to share the Harbert Family Recruiting Center with you. In 2017 they began redesign and reconstruction and it just opened back up at the beginning of this season. How much did the renovation cost? $28 million. And it sure shows! It’s so perfect. So I’ll start with it!
Besides our SEC friends at Mississippi State, I haven’t been on a campus that has a recruiting center at the stadium. Most use their football facility and then just transfer the recruits to the stadium for games. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the recruiting center concept! Especially Auburn’s. It’s pure perfection.
The Harbert Family Recruiting Center is located on the southwest end zone of Jordan-Hare Stadium and is also attached to the second and third floor Auburn VIP lounges by a quick elevator ride. This place is on lockdown for games and is only available to visiting recruits. Not even the VIPs can come down here (mainly because of NCAA Rules and Regulations that prohibit booster interaction with recruits… and just about every VIP is probably a booster).
The Recruiting Center has a beautiful two-story lobby with a giant tv screen that plays the game live on game days. I visited the center on Friday, just before a dedication ceremony. So that’s what this is currently set up for. ESPN was also in doing a facilities segment featuring Marty Smith, who I met last year at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. We got to catch up, and I’ll fill you in on that a little later!
Right in the lobby is the most recent National Championship trophy (2010 – 1 of their 2 national titles), most recent SEC Championship trophy (2017 – this past football season), and a ton of their championship rings.
Apologies for the glare – I’ve made it pretty clear I’m no professional photographer!
Just off of the lobby is their dining center. Again, what a great concept. Leave food out here for the guys and they can come and go as they please. They can still watch the game, but they can enjoy the AC too while they do it. Huge fan of this. Applause, Auburn.
Not to mention, it’s gorgeous!
I have a soda addiction, I’ll admit it. This place was soda heaven. Cans, fountain drinks… every kind. I’d probably be 5 pounds lighter if I could cut it out (another 10 if I could cut out the bread! But let’s be real…)
Also a fan of the War Eagle balloons. How cute!
While their NFL wall isn’t as elaborate as some that I’ve seen, it’s simple and chic. It does the point, which is to display their coaches’ success of placing players in the next level. Auburn definitely has no shortage on those!
Speaking of no shortage of successful players, here are their 3 Heisman Trophy winners.
Pat Sullivan is a name that I’m not familiar with. The other 2, on the other hand…
Cam Newton is their most recent Heisman Winner, who is now the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I’ve heard from others that he’s quite a guy. Always good to hear those kinds of comments.
Bo Jackson is nothing short of a football legend. Bo played football AND baseball for Auburn from 1982-1986, and then went as the #1 overall pick to the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1987 NFL draft. While his NFL career was a short 3 years, his MLB career was longer. Bo played for the Kansas City Royals from 1986-1990, and then had a couple additional years with the Chicago White Sox and the California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels).
If you’ve never seen a Heisman Trophy up close, here ya go!
So while Auburn is also the Tigers, they also have a real Eagle mascot, and they scream War Eagle. I need to ask my friend, Nelly, about this. She’s an Auburn grad and worked for their football team, too. Always wondered where this came from. Personally, I think the eagle is way cooler than a Tiger! But the Auburn Eagles doesn’t sound as cool…
If you’ve read any of my other posts from facilities like Oregon and Kentucky, you’d know that I’m a huge fan of the black. Auburn is the total opposite, and it’s all white. And you know what? It works. Take a look…
So awesome. I can’t say enough great things about their facility design. The white works.
I also love these little bar displays. They had the same bars hanging from the ceiling in the lobby, but clear, and it was just really chic to me. I really should’ve gone into interior design – stuff like this is so cool to me!
I guess this is all of Auburn’s bowl game appearances. Maybe it’s the way their display is, but it just doesn’t look like that many. Other schools usually have an entire wall with the individual appearances, so I think it’s more their set up than their lack of appearances!
Their national award winners are on display, as well. Not just the Heisman Winners. Coach Malzahn’s Coach of the Year award from 2013 is also up here.
I’m obsessed. Officially obsessed with this facility.
There’s a tunnel at the end that leads out to the field for the recruits and visitors of the facility. On the right wall is their fight song. Perfect place to display it! This facility is just so meticulously planned out and has so much attention to detail. It’s just so unique.
In the tunnel is a fridge full of water for recruits and their families. So smart! Guarantee you this was empty by the end of Saturday’s 2:30pm kickoff game.
Jordan-Hare Stadium sticks with the rest of Auburn’s campus looks – that bright red brick. It’s just beautiful. While the opposite end zone needs a little updating, the rest of this stadium is perfect. Honestly, Auburn’s stadium is probably in my top 5 favorites.
Like Texas Tech, Auburn is an Under Armour school, unlike the majority of the SEC. South Carolina is too, and then Texas A&M and Mississippi State are Adidas. Not really sure why Under Armour was on display on the jumbotron on Friday, but it was.
Next up we checked out the players’ locker room for Auburn. This is where I got to catch up with Marty. Marty was telling me that he travels to a different school every Friday to do a facility tour and put it on Snapchat (how do I get that job?)… I was cracking up because Marty was just astounded that the Snapchat segment gets over 5 million views. He’s not old by any means, but he just doesn’t understand Snapchat and had no problem admitting it. I was in tears. He’s such a great guy.
Just inside the locker room doors is the display for national recognitions and then what they call the Heisman Room. There was a meeting going on in the Heisman Room at the time, so we couldn’t enter.
Despite the misleading title, this isn’t a room for Heisman winners only. It’s actually just a small meeting room for the coaches to use for recruiting meetings. The coaches will take the kids into this room whenever they’re ready to make a scholarship offer or sign commitment papers, etc. Stuff like that.
This is the Auburn Football locker room, just underneath the south end zone. This is where the Auburn players get ready for the game and they exit through the Under Armour tunnel straight to the field.
Each locker has its own individual speaker for players to play their music. Seems like that wouldn’t work very well if everyone was listening to something different!
How can you NOT be obsessed with this locker room?!
Jarrett Stidham is Auburn’s star quarterback right now – a transfer from Baylor. But, before Baylor, he was actually committed to Texas Tech for about a year and a half and my team recruited him. I enjoyed getting to know him during his junior and senior years of high school. Obviously he decided to go elsewhere, but hey, that’s the name of the game.
I actually ran into him shortly before heading over to the Harbert Family Recruiting Center and his exact words were… “Holy sh*t, what on earth are you doing here?” It was nice to catch up and hear a little more about his journey to Auburn. And it’s always a great feeling to know you’ve made a lasting impact on these kids! Enough for them to recognize you 5 years later and be so shocked to see you!
This is the players tunnel that they exit from on game day – straight from the locker room. The Under Armour display is a little strange but it’s nice! Most schools just choose to display their equipment name on their equipment. So clearly Auburn is a big fan of Under Armour.
Auburn’s Football Offices are actually located up the street in the same offices as the rest of the athletic department. That building is the Auburn Athletic Complex. Usually football offices are their own building, or every sport is housed in the same building. So it was a little strange that the whole athletic department is combined with football only.
This lobby right above is actually the lobby for the athletic department offices, but Auburn Football’s main team meeting room and position meeting rooms are right off of it.
There were a ton of people in the main meeting room, but it’s really just a bigger version of these smaller rooms. Auburn is definitely due for a meeting room update in the near future! It was pretty plain and old by comparison. Which is not indicative of the rest of their football office facilities, strangely enough.
They also have a huge room with a bunch of bowl game and old SEC trophies in it. Obviously all the good ones are over in the Harbert Family Recruiting Center. There was even a display for Cam Newton in here, and you can see where his Heisman Trophy used to be.
This was a really unique feature of the building. So the coaches’ offices are on the third floor, and the players’ lounge, locker room, training room, and equipment room are on the first floor. The meeting rooms and the rest of the athletic department are on the second floor. This spiral staircase connects them all. This was pretty cool!
Talk about a cool players lounge! Usually you don’t get to see these because they’re in the locker room. Instead, this is more like the lobby of all of the football support rooms (equipment, training, and the actual locker room).
Those pool tables are awesome! Have to wonder how much they get used though!
I love these types of displays. The color layout here is certainly the complete opposite of their recruiting facility! It works though. I think it’d be too repetitive if they made them so similar. Great contrast.
On the other side of the spiral staircase is the equipment room, locker room entrance, and a little waiting area.
Personally, I was a little disappointed in the equipment display. Two mannequins? Would’ve thought after their awesome recruiting facility that this would be more up-to-date! But who am I to judge.
This locker room is used purely for practice, so it’s not near as unique as the game day locker room. Which it’s actually usually the opposite! Normally the game day locker room is the one that doesn’t matter because all the recruiting is put into the football facility.
They have a beautiful set up for practice fields. This outdoor practice field is football only. To the left is their indoor football practice field and weight room, which we’ll see in a second. But to the right is the all-sports indoor practice facility, weight room, and nutrition stand.
I can only assume that this green hill is used for workouts. You won’t catch me running up and down that hill! Nope.
This is Auburn’s football only weight room, attached to their football only indoor practice field.
And here is their indoor practice field! I love the buildings that do the garage doors that’ll open up the indoor field to the outdoor field. Everything is just so uniform between these buildings and the football offices.
Most indoors display their achievements and Auburn wasn’t an exception. But let’s talk about this last picture. That Iron Bowl was the game where Alabama kicked a field goal, missed… and Auburn ran the ball back to win the game. That is by far the craziest game I have ever seen in college football. I remember exactly where I was watching it, too. I was in my grandma’s living room in Waco, Texas!
Since I was wearing yellow, I couldn’t hit the recruiting room on Saturday. Instead, I decided to be a fan! We went to the bars just off of Auburn’s campus for some beers and then headed to the stadium.
Man, can Auburn pack out a stadium! But… look around at all that purple and yellow!
LSU came out swinging in the first quarter and shut down Auburn every time they got the ball. But for whatever reason, they started slacking off, and Auburn was up at halftime. Even the third quarter was frustrating.
But then, Derrick Dillon had a 71-yard touchdown and the crowd shut down. You’d be surprised at how much effect the crowd can have. Despite missing the 2-point conversion, we still only needed a field goal to win by 1. Before you knew it, that’s exactly what happened! A time-expiring field goal for us to take down #7 Auburn 22-21! Last week I had the same experience at Arizona State.
Not only did LSU get the win, but I ran into one of my long lost friends, Lindsey! Lindsey and I worked together for the Dallas Cowboys back in 2013 and she’s since gotten out of sports. She’s an LSU alumni and was in from Savannah, Georgia with her boyfriend for the game!
Also found my new favorite Auburn fan…
… and got to experience some of that Auburn hospitality! I still don’t get what’s up with this joke. But it’s funny!
Next weekend I’m taking a break from sports and heading to Dallas just to enjoy some time with my girls! But the week after that, Ole Miss is coming to us! That will be my first home game for LSU this season since I sat out our first one for Arizona State and I’m sitting out this upcoming game. Can’t wait to be back in Death Valley! Especially since we’ll be in the Top 10!