For two years, Lincoln Riley’s office seemed like it was designed to run him off. His desk was a conference table that dominated the room the way a queen-sized bed would overwhelm the dorm room the Bud Wilkinson dormitory was originally designed to be.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione thought about that as Riley moved into his new office, perched above the newly-designed Switzer Center.
It was designed to be Bob Stoops’ office. When the furniture was being installed, the joke was it could be used as a banquet facility.
“You’re not going to have to worry about those official visits that involve 13 or 14 people with a prospect and where are you gonna put all of them,” Castiglione said.
University of Oklahoma
The early star of the social media campaign that’s accompanied Riley’s initial days on the job has been the office. Fans gush over it when images appear.
The hope is recruits have the same feeling. When they get an offer in that room at the end of a visit, the size, the oak furniture, the view to the south of the stadium will close the deal.
Facilities are important in college football. Stoops often joked that OU won the last two Big 12 titles out of trailers. Riley won’t have to deal with that. The temporary units that housed the program the last two seasons are moving out. All but the final touches to the new locker rooms, meeting rooms, training facilities and coaches offices to the Switzer Center are complete.
All of it was designed to cause jaws to drop.
“We weren’t trying to catch up to anybody,” Castiglione said. “We were trying to set the standard. Other people will see it and try to emulate it; that’s the way it works.”
Football coaches across the country see those photos the Sooners' or visitors' post and wonder if what they have measures up. The arms race never ends. It’s a safe bet there will be subtle changes in the years to come.
But everything in that facility — including that office — was designed to fit its users.
“It makes you appreciate it. You have to remember from the point you start. It keeps you grounded,” Castiglione said. “But it’s all coaches, the way that we designed it, we understand. Some people can take a design and they don’t really understand the end user very well. They miss something. We were really intentional about getting all the end users involved. Didn’t mean we were doing every single thing they asked for but we made it functional like that.
“That’s why even the players and the locker that we developed for the players, we came up with some concepts, got it into a prototype, then brought it in, I think we brought it in the first time, brought several players up at different positions, different sizes to sit in, use it, try to think about how it operated, and made a lot of notes what they said.
“Sent the fabricator back and then they came back with another prototype that was more along the lines of reflecting all of that input and players just loved it. Went back and started constructing what we wanted for the rest of the locker room.”
Right now, it’s Riley’s office that is creating the buzz. Perhaps in the coming months it will be the locker room, the new weight room or the speed training facility that becomes viral.
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