HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - On what was one of the landmark days in Marshall University athletics history, Athletic Director Mike Hamrick admitted something that, normally, would be a buzzkill.
A buffalo chip in the punchbowl, if you will.
As he stood before dozens of guests and donors seated in front of him, student-athletes and coaches standing farther back, he confessed how many working computers Thundering Herd student-athletes had at their disposal.
That's a number no Football Bowl Subdivision school wants to declare. It was a product of a university's stagnation, an example of what happens when an athletic program sits back and watches its rivals pass it by in terms of resources.
Very soon, though, dirt will be turned for an indoor athletic complex right next to Joan C. Edwards Stadium, which will change all that.
"We're going to have over 170 computers in this new 13-14,000-square foot academic center," Hamrick told the audience, "that will be as good as anywhere."
Much of the spotlight has focused on the new 120-yard indoor football field included in the new complex, and for good reason. Anyone who's ever seen a football coach's disappointment when lightning streaks across the sky and postpones practice - or anyone who sat through the sleet squall in Edwards Stadium at the end of March - knows its importance. But that facility will play so many more roles.
It will be a tantalizing carrot to dangle in front of recruits, especially in the university's cash cow sport. The college football arms race has evolved in the 21st century. Every FBS school offers 85 scholarships. There are 70 bowl slots for 125 teams. The growing landscape of cable television creates more options to watch your teams with each passing day.
What used to be special in the 1980s and 1990s has become more commonplace. The one area where football programs can distance themselves from the pack is facilities. Doc Holliday reeled in the best recruiting class among FBS non-automatic qualifier schools this February. What might he be able to do with a brand new indoor complex to show off?