We noticed a little tidbit this weekend that caught our eye. Apparently Coach Bobby Petrino would prefer to play on turf as opposed to real grass. Tom Murphy’s article Saturday indicated that Petrino has asked AD Jeff Long to make the move to the fake stuff.
“I think it would be a great advantage to our program to be able to move in that direction,” Petrino said. “With two games in Little Rock and another in Dallas each year on synthetic surfaces, we need to be able to practice and prepare on similar fields. I think it would help us competitively and maximize our options when it comes to running our practices.”
Now, we have rarely disagreed with Coach or new AD Long so far. The change they have brought to our football and athletic departments has been welcome, thoughtful and long overdue for the most part. But we couldn’t disagree more with this pending switch to turf.
When one thinks of programs that have switched…in some cases switched back…to artificial turf, the first thing that comes to mind is, “well the school must be far enough to the north that growing grass in late fall/early winter is a challenge or impossible.” These would be places like Madison, Ann Arbor, Boulder, Lincoln, Columbus, etc.
If the school is not from the north, and could grow grass well into the late fall, why would they opt for the fake stuff? In most cases, the school is too cheap or doesn’t have the funds to maintain a natural surface. It indicates low budget, lower-tier type programs. Examples include Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Troy, Louisiana Tech, SMU, Rice, etc.
The University of Arkansas has one of the finest Turf Management degree programs in the south. We have a climate that is suitable. We’ve got the resources. What gives?
Now we know what Coach Petrino sees in the turf. An offense akin to the old Kurt Warner-led St. Louis Rams and their “Greatest Show on Turf” come to mind. Petrino is recruiting fast, quick receivers who seem even faster on the synthetic surfaces. The “fast-break style” offenses thrive on the stuff. Getting to practice inside the stadium more would be a plus.
But if you want to be a “big boy” and play “big boy football” in the SEC you need to act like it in all respects. That includes facilities and what kind of surface you play on. Anything less looks “Bush League”.