Last week, Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly broke some big news to fans when he made an appearance on local WSBT radio and said FieldTurf is coming to Notre Dame Stadium.
And then, just one day later, he took it back. Well, sort of.
“Yeah, I want to go back on that one a little bit and I want to add one word. I said FieldTurf is coming — I want to say I hope FieldTurf is coming. And as you all know, and I’ve said this a million times, that is above my pay grade. I’m not the one who is rolling out the turf. I know you guys know that. So certainly [athletic director] Jack Swarbrick, that’s his domain. I do not want to do Jack’s job. I’ve got enough to do with my own. But I think I’ve made it pretty clear to all of you that I hope that’s where we go, but that’s clearly not my decision.”
But why does Brian Kelly even want FieldTurf in the first place? It really boils down to two things.
One of the reasons that FieldTurf has become so popular is that it requires so much less work to maintain and take care of than natural grass. There’s no worrying about chunks of dirt flying up and cleats creating divots and holes in the playing surface. And poor weather doesn’t drastically affect the condition of FieldTurf, like you would see on a natural grass field.
The other reason, which is more of a competitive one, is that athletes are faster on turf than they are on natural grass. Granted, both teams play on the same field. But teams like the Irish that get the top athletes/recruits in the country every year believe that FieldTurf will further promote their top-end speed and play a major factor.
So it is clear that Kelly has several reasons why he would prefer FieldTurf over natural grass, but why is adding it a big deal then?
Notre Dame is like no other school in the country when it comes to tradition. Not just traditions like the incredible band and fight song, or the players’ walk from the Basilica before the game, but “traditions” like not having music pumped into the stadium. It wasn’t until last year (2011!) that music was finally heard on-site, which is just a sign of how resistant the school and the alumni-base are to change.
Many alumni (even current students) view playing on natural grass as a tradition that they intend to keep. After all, that’s the way it has always been in Notre Dame Stadium.
However, if Brian Kelly gets his way, it appears that “tradition” won’t be around for much longer.