Eccles Center puts Utes “in the neighborhood”

            I saw Greg Marsden, the highly successful University of Utah gymnastics coach, at the dedication of the Eccles Football Center on Thursday.

            As usual, Marsden was happy about the progression of any team representing the U. Beyond that, he said such an advancement will help gymnastics by demonstrating that Utah has first rate facilities. 

Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

            More than 400 athletes will use the center for one purpose or another. 

            This isn’t just p.r. talk by Marsden.  I was at Michigan several years ago, where I decided to randomly interview UM students on what they knew about Utah athletics. It was before Utah had attended a BCS bowl.

            Most of the students said they were familiar with Rick Majerus and his basketball team. There were a fair number of students who said Utah was known for its gymnastics program.

            So there’s a crossover. When one program does well, it helps raise awareness of another.

            It made sense, then, that Marsden was at the EFC ribbon-cutting. So was Tommy Connor, an assistant basketball coach.

            From what I’ve read about other Pac-12 teams like Oregon and Arizona – which spent twice what Utah did – they don’t have a lot more basics than the Utes. The difference is in degree of extravagance, such as exotic foreign rugs and Italian crafted barbershop utensils. There may be more expensive wood floors and more space age electronics, but the basics sounds similar.

            Marsden said the most posh athletics center in the country doesn’t need to be at Utah. But what the U. does need is a modern, roomy, efficient facility that’s in the ballpark with other large schools.

            Utah officials aren’t claiming their football center is the fanciest in the country. But they insist it can compete with anyone, in any conference.

            Just as in real estate, you don’t need to buy the biggest house on the street. But it’s good to be in the neighborhood.

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