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Shots Fired, or Spring Boredom?

Rocky Long has thrown down the gauntlet: he doesn’t much care for Boise State’s blue field, saying during the Mountain West’s spring conference call that Boise “ought to get rid of” the turf, due to the fact that it provides the Broncos with an “unfair” advantage. How, you might ask, does Boise’s field provide it with an unfair advantage over the opposition? Funny you asked. According to Long, it all has to do with vision, or lack thereof.

According to Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman, who transcribed the conversation for his blog on the Statesman’s Web site, Long believes it takes visitors “a quarter or two to get used to that different field.” Writes Murphy: “Long said players ‘track the ball differently’ on the blue turf, particularly since Boise State traditionally wears all-blue uniforms on the blue turf.”

Is Long speaking from experience? A bit, albeit from more than a decade ago. In 1999, Long’s second team at New Mexico went on the blue turf and lost, 20-9, to a Boise team in the middle of the first 10-win season of the program’s F.B.S. existence.

Long is not the first to complain about the blue turf, though complaints — if that’s not too strong a word — typically center around how difficult it is to prepare using game film, not what actually occurs on game day. In the past, some coaches have said that following Boise film during game preparations can be frustrating, as those blue uniforms do, in fact, clash against the blue backdrop.

During the game, however? We do live in a three-dimensional world, after all, so Long’s players shouldn’t really be losing sight of blue-uniformed players who are standing up, not lying down, on the blue turf. At least that’s how I see it; I haven’t actually strapped on the pads and played in Bronco Stadium, so I can’t attest to the veracity of Long’s statement.

So what of his quotes earlier today? Let’s take note that Long likely didn’t just bring up the turf without prompting, though I haven’t heard the tape, merely read the transcript. I’m really not that informed, am I? Perhaps Long was asked about playing at Boise, asked about his history with the program, and touched upon how difficult it was to prepare for the Broncos.

Of course, these might be shots fired. From a conference favorite, San Diego State, to the conference newcomer, Boise — and the new conference top dog, even in its first season as a member. Perhaps Long has his sights aimed firmly in Boise’s direction, looking at the Broncos — as he looked at T.C.U. and Utah in 2010 — as the team S.D.S.U. needs to overcome in its effort to become a consistent presence near the top of the Mountain West.

Well, here’s what I think: it’s April. It’s not September, I mean, so perhaps a casual quote during a spring conference call becomes more than it should be, since we have precious little else to talk about. I also have one other thought: Long is worried about the blue turf, but he should be far more worried about the team that plays on that turf, one that continues to outplay nearly all comers, home and away.

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  1. Matt Rob says:

    Have there been any coaches who have complained about green jerseys against a grass field?

  2. Burnt Orange says:

    There were complaints about the color of Texas jerseys being the color of the football in the Wishbone era. The jerseys were a lot more burnt or brown during those years than they are today.

  3. Matt Rob says:

    That is interesting.

    This anti-Boise backlash seems to be a coping mechanism for some. It is hard to fathom how a school in Idaho — with no athletic budget and a mediocre conference — can build a team that has won so consistently for the past few years.

    They must have an unfair advantage, right?

  4. Burnt Orange says:

    I am usually in Boise’s camp. Their accomplishments demand some respect. If there is an unfair advantage, it has nothing to do with the field. The thing I have always wondered about is the sheer number of their offensive shifts and formations – I do not know how they get all of that installed and perfected within the NCAA practice time restrictions. An opponent adhering to the time restrictions having to prepare for all of that in a week has their work cut out for them.

  5. Matt Rob says:

    Man, I didn’t think about that at all. That is an interesting issue; I am a WVU fan, and we will have some sanctions come down soon because of practice time violations from the RichRod years (same as one of his problems at Michigan). And the spread option that RichRod does is pretty simple compared to the playbook Boise has.

    I fall in the Boise camp too, for the most part. Whether they can compete in a BCS conference schedule or not (which is completely academic either way), they are entertaining to watch.

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