Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Say this for first-year San Diego State head coach Rocky Long: he's not a man to hide what he's really think.
"I think they ought to get rid of that blue turf. I think it's unfair," said Long, the former New Mexico coach ...
When asked to expand, Long said, "it takes the visiting team a quarter or two to get used to that different field."
Long said players "track the ball differently" on the blue turf, particularly since Boise State traditionally wears all-blue uniforms on the blue turf.
Long isn't the first coach to grumble about the Boise field's effect, though he might be the first to do so so publicly. We encourage him to continue, since the Aztecs' home game against the Broncos already shapes up to be one of the best in the 2011 Mountain West and should only get spicier from here. (Boise's Chris Petersen unfortunately wasn't willing to play along, politely saying his players don't notice any effects from the blue field "because we see it every day.")
But is there any truth to Long's claims? The Broncos did go 40-0 at home in their 10 years in the WAC and are (as the Idaho Statesman points out) an incredible 69-2 on the blue turf since 2000.
But the simpler explanation for BSU's success, of course -- and it's one we wish Petersen had made in retort -- is that the Broncos have been really, really good, and traveling all the way to Boise to play those good teams is very, very hard. Maybe Long is right that the combination of the field and the Broncos' blue uniforms is unsettling enough that it doesn't make for an entirely even playing field (and to be fair to Long, he does have personal experience with the Smurf Turf, having taken the Lobos to Boise in 1999), but whatever advantage Boise gets isn't nearly so big as the advantage of simply having the better team.
In short: with all due respect to Mr. Long -- and to the thousands of retinas scarred annually by the blue turf in high definition -- Boise shouldn't feel obligated to tear up the turf anytime soon.