The Turf Trend: A Timeline of Radical Surface Changes That May or May Not Happen
There’s a reason that the Maryland football uniforms have been crafted to look like a Medieval Times trip on acid. They, of course, were created knowing damn well they would be discussed at great length. And despite the fact that they haven’t exactly been received with overwhelming approval, this radical change has created plenty of desired publicity.
Oregon knows this tradition very well. In fact, the Ducks are masters of the creative ensemble. They concocted a helmet that would have felt right at home in Starship Troopers, and we discussed these reflective brain protectors for a solid month.
Publicity is publicity, and bold uniform attempts (for one game or beyond) generate discussion. There’s also the perceived influence this has on players and potential recruits who appreciate this change of pace. I’m not quite sure where this theory first originated, but the movement has spiraled regardless.
Boise State started this trend when it Xeroxed someone’s oversized backyard pond onto its turf and said, “Hey, let’s play football on this.” Others have since followed up with their own takes.
Eastern Washington home games are now played on a blood-soaked turf. (Note: Not actually constructed out of real blood, we think). Central Arkansas welcomes opposing foes with a gray-and-purple creation that would look pretty spectacular on a hipster T-shirt. And now, Maryland might be getting in on the craze with a unique new “black or pewter” football field.
A mock-up of this potential design made its way around the web, although it’s uncertain what exactly it will actually look like and if any tortoises would be harmed in the development of this field. Either way, it would seem a new, radical field is coming, and they will not be the last to take this plunge.
This progression—as has been the case with uniforms—will be large, wild and blinding over time. Who’s next to dig up their ol’ turf and replace it with something different? The answers may surprise you if this potential timeline proves to be accurate. I see absolutely no reason (outside of logic, rules, sanity, etc.) why it wouldn't be.
Following a crippling loss to Ole Miss in 2012, LSU decides to shake things up with the first-ever sideline-punishment field. The turf will look exactly as is, but live tigers will be placed on the sidelines five yards apart. It will be like that scene in Gladiator, only don’t tell PETA that because they will have a fit before we get to see it in action.
Pro Tip from the Future: If you have to catch a ball on the sideline, may we suggest—well, just don’t catch a ball on the sideline.
Notre Dame (2014)
Although a future conference landing spot is the hot topic of conversation when it comes to the Irish, Notre Dame decides to take its infatuation with gold one step further before bailing on independence.
Those helmets were only the beginning, and Brian Kelly has a solid-gold field installed only a few years after the headgear debuts. It costs nearly $750 million to build, and the field ends up blinding 58,000 television viewers in the first few weeks alone.
Losing finally runs its course, and the Indiana football team decides to make a splash of its own following the basketball team’s national championship in 2014. The Hoosiers install a bold, all-wood turf (which really isn't turf) and even create field goal posts that are actually oversized basketball hoops, nets and all.
Despite the gigantic overhaul, Indiana still manages to lose 23 games in 2015 even though they only played 12. They also suffer a Big Ten-best 23 ACL tears in a three-week stretch.
Washington State (2016)
Coming off back-to-back national championships, Mike Leach creates further buzz at a program already beaming with it. Per his suggestion that became public in 2014, he is finally given permission to install a crimson-colored turf with speed boosts similar to the ones seen in the Super Mario Kart series.
The NCAA allows this, because it’s Mike Leach and he can do whatever the hell he wants. Except for installing “hot spots” on the field similar to the banana peels. This is forbidden…for now.
They have seen enough. After watching many try to create the perfect home-field advantage with their playing surface, the Ducks get rid of the field altogether. It is bold, odd and somehow you are not surprised.
They remove their turf, put in a giant Nike-logoed hot lava where the vintage field once was and install an anti-gravity system. Playing 15 feet above the ground seems like a smashing idea, although dropped passes and fumbles create 7.5-hour games. Like that really bothers you.
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