Rolla, anyone? The Rams could be heading southwest for training camp this summer, albeit only about 100 miles in that direction.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo is considering the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla, Mo., as the team's training camp site for 2011. Spagnuolo is a big believer in getting away with the team for a couple of weeks at the start of camp to build camaraderie.
His template for that comes from his previous NFL coaching experiences with the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. In each of his eight seasons as an assistant coach with Philadelphia, the Eagles trained at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., about 70 miles from Philly. And in both of Spagnuolo's two seasons with New York as defensive coordinator, the Giants trained at the University at Albany (N.Y.), about 130 miles from New York City.
Both those campuses were far enough away to be removed from big city distractions, but close enough that you could get back home in an hour or two if you had to. Missouri S&T, formerly known as Missouri-Rolla, fits that profile. Rolla is about 1½ hours from St. Louis via Interstate 44.
In his two prior seasons as Rams head coach, Spagnuolo thought about training elsewhere but ended up at Rams Park, the team's year-round facility in Earth City. In the past, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale was under consideration, but that campus was in the midst of an $83 million athletic facilities renovation, a project that included a new football stadium and a new support building but basically prevented the Rams from training there because of construction.
Missouri S&T had not come up in discussions of possible training camp sites until now. Spagnuolo and Bruce Warwick — the Rams' assistant to the head coach for football operations — have toured the facility. A follow-up meeting was canceled because of bad weather.
Missouri S&T's football team, the Miners, competes as an independent in Division II of the NCAA. By NFL standards, the Miners' facilities are said to be so-so. Several grass fields are available but there is not an artificial turf field. The football stadium, Allgood-Bailey Stadium, seats 8,000 and also has a grass surface.
Without an artificial turf field, the Rams would be more vulnerable to rain during training camp. And the Miners have a small indoor facility, 40 yards by 40 yards.
As much as he'd prefer to train away from Rams Park, Spagnuolo has said he would only do so if "all things fit."
The Rams have held training camp at Rams Park in five of the six previous seasons. The only exception was the summer of 2008, when they worked at Concordia University Wisconsin just outside of Milwaukee. Before that, the Rams trained at Western Illinois University in Macomb from 1996-2004. And before the Rams' inaugural season in St. Louis, 1995, they trained at Maryville University in West County.
After spending the start of the offseason back home in Oklahoma, quarterback Sam Bradford was back at Rams Park on Wednesday. He worked out in the weight room and said hello to the coaches, including new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.