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...and a SBT interview with Swarbrick

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:06
edited by Jay, Monday, April 14, 2014, 08:19

I guess he's making the rounds.

(Also, much more substantive here than Prister was able to elicit.)


January 27. 2011 6:59AM

Tribune Staff Writer
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SOUTH BEND - He high-fived Ben Hansbrough on national TV Monday night, presumably with enough care that he didn't tilt the sizzling shooting touch of the senior guard on the Notre Dame men's basketball team.

Jack Swarbrick's job, though, still entails much more than being the program's most visible fan in ND's nationally televised takedown of No. 2 Pitt.

Here's a peek into the third-year Notre Dame athletic director's world and his thoughts about a variety of subjects in it. This is the first of two parts:

Q: How close are you to releasing the 2013-2016 football schedules?

A: "We're not there yet. We have three holes left to go. We're close, though. We're getting there. Three away from being done through 2016."

Q: You've mixed in some 6-5-1 (six home games, five road games, one off-site home game) scheduling formats in 2011 and 2012, which have given you more flexibility than the 7-4-1 template you inherited. Is it going to be only 6-5-1 moving forward?

A: "Just about. We might have an occasional 7-4-1 year, but it will be because of the way some games fall. It's really going to be 6-5-1."

Q: Is the off-site home game concept something you're committed to for the foreseeable future?

A: "Yeah, if we reach any years where we can't find the right place or the right opponent, that will become a 7-5 year. But so far the two-year experiment has been very successful for different reasons.

"Both San Antonio and New York were great. New York could not have been any better. So there's every reason to keep it going."

Q: Are there any plans to get a series with a Southeastern Conference team going?

A: "Not certain it will be a series, but we're exploring the possibilities of an SEC team being one of the off-site home games in the 6-5-1 format."

Q: What are your thoughts on Texas' 24-hour Longhorn network deal for $300 million over 20 years?

A: "We've talked to them over the past few months as they worked through that. They're good friends, and they've kind of kept us posted on their thinking, not the elements of the deal.

"I think it's a great thing. I think it makes all the sense in the world for them, and it'll work. It will be very successful."

Q: Can Notre Dame do the same thing? Will Notre Dame do the same thing at some point?

A: "It's really important for us to expand our media presence. There's no question. And so I don't know what form that will take yet.

"Texas has geography going for it that Notre Dame doesn't. So you can sell that into a geographic region to cable providers, and it works well. We don't have geography in that sense, so our approach will have to be a little different. But we're very excited about exploring ways to do that.

"All of the emerging technologies are going to help us. What we have is probably the largest national following, but it's dispersed. So we're going to need robust broadband solutions and new forms of delivery of digital media, some of which don't exist yet but are clearly coming."

Q: Because Texas was able to do this, do you think at some point the school will move to be an independent?

A: "There may be more schools becoming independents, but I don't think you can infer from this anything relative to Texas. I think Texas enjoys its partnership with the Big 12 and it enjoys its relationship with the conference. Might there be more independents? Maybe, but I don't think that these two are necessarily connected."

Q: What are you hearing about the Comcast/NBC merger and what it might mean for Notre Dame?

A: "Well, it's not based on what I'm hearing. What I think you wound up with here is a media company with extraordinary assets. I'm sure they have very impressive plans on how they'll grow. I don't know what they are, but we are very fortunate that a great partner like NBC is now part of a larger enterprise with more assets.

"It gives us more things to talk about, more potential ways to deliver Notre Dame programming. I can't speak to what their plans might be, but I think it's all good for Notre Dame."

Q: Do you expect fans to see any differences in the Notre Dame football coverage because of this?

A: "I think the things you can expect initially is more related programming, more shoulder programming can find its way into an outlet. More locker room access, more practice access, more coaches analysis, because now the combination of those two will have a lot of different places they can deploy programming. So, hopefully, we'll get an opportunity to do that.

"Who knows how many channels, how many networks will be part of that family. It's conceivable that Notre Dame may be on more than one. You may get replays on one outlet. You might have video on demand for former games. I just, again, think it will be the fact that there will be a lot more mechanisms for delivery in the merged unit that will be good for us."

Q: Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds was quoted recently as saying that if Notre Dame wanted to come to the Big 12 with everything but football, they would be welcome. What's your reaction?

A: "I saw what DeLoss said. As I've said on a couple of occasions, they're one of the schools that are an important relationship for us, because he and the members of his team - Chris Plonsky, the one who took the lead in building the (Longhorn) network - have been great resources for us.

"I guess I was sort of flattered that DeLoss had that view of Notre Dame."

Q: You remain firmly committed to the Big East, though. What are your thoughts about TCU joining the Big East?

A: "I think it's spectacular. I think it's so good for the Big East on so many levels. I was a huge proponent of it, and of course (Notre Dame president) Father (John) Jenkins serves as the chair of the Big East right now. So he was in a critical position during all of that, as reflected by the fact he was down at the press conference when they announced it.

"It gives us a presence in Texas, a critical market for a host of reasons. It immediately improves the quality of football in the Big East, as well as some other sports.

"The Big East is a heck of a baseball conference. We already had a number of Big East teams playing very good baseball. Now you add the runner-up from the NCAA Tournament last year.

"I think from a media perspective, the Dallas/Fort Worth area is a phenomenal one for us. It (also) gives us another warm-weather option for early-season spring games in various sports. We already have one in South Florida, but now we have a second one in Texas.

"So I just think it was a brilliant move for the conference, our commissioner, Father Jenkins as chair - everybody did a great job in making that happen."

Q: Do you feel like, since the whole scare of the Big East being poached by the Big Ten and ultimately crumbling, that the conference is strengthening itself behind the scenes?

A: "I think the Big East is in a great position. We continue to have unquestionably the best basketball conference in the country. Football is good and getting better.

"I think there's great unity among the schools. So I think, in so many ways, the Big East is stronger now than it's ever been and a great home for Notre Dame. We're very fortunate to be a member of the Big East."

Q: There was a point where former athletic director Kevin White had committed to playing three Big East teams in football every year indefinitely from 2011 on. But as you look at the 2011 and 2012 schedules, there's two Big East matchups in 2011 and one in 2012. What happened?

A: "We're going to play Big East teams. We've got a series with Syracuse coming up. We'll always have Pitt. I think you will see, over time, we're going to be pretty much in line with Kevin's goal."

Q: One of the things fans seemed to really enjoy about the Yankee Stadium experience was the Jumbotron. What are the chances that happens at Notre Dame Stadium?

A: "I don't know. It's hard for me to assess that. But I will tell you Yankee Stadium had an impact on people's communication with me about it. I've heard from a lot of people that have said, "˜I was opposed to this, but seeing it in action there, I have a different view.'

"Whether that ever happens here, we have to have it fit into what we want our stadium to be and the tradition of the place, and so there's nothing imminent, but I was interested in how many people had their view changed by that experience, because it does give you a remarkable ability to promote the university, which is what we did very effectively there.

"It's especially effective in a night setting like that. It was a beautiful board. It was very vivid. It was more about what we did with it. We weren't running any advertising. We were promoting Notre Dame. Now I'll tell you who I heard most from was the players. They loved it."

Q: How about the Field Turf issue? There's the tradition with the natural grass here, but there are times it's been a real struggle to have a playable football field.

A: "I think there are two issues there. One is I was disappointed in our field this year. It wasn't where it needed to be and, frankly, that was without any real weather challenges.

"So we've got to make sure we get the field to a quality that makes sense. The other is, as the university considers doing more things in the stadium, we have to make sure we keep a natural grass field in the shape we want it to be, graduation being an example. That's where graduation is held now, in the stadium.

"So it's a little like Jumbotron, video boards if you will, nothing imminent. But as the use of the stadium evolves - it's like so many things about this - we've got to stay open to new ideas, but maintain the tradition of Notre Dame."

Q: The bowl options worked out wonderfully this year, taking a Pac-10 slot in the Sun Bowl. But do you feel like in this cycle or next, you'd like to have more non-BCS options?

A: "Sure, it won't happen in this cycle, they're all done, but we will always be trying to work very hard to try to create options for ourselves relative to the bowls. It's tough, much harder than it used to be, but it just means we have to work much harder at it to try to give ourselves more options."

Q: Do you see any momentum at all for a college football playoff?

A: "No. None."

Why is that, because the university presidents don't want it?

A: "That's a big part of it. It's sort of the largest part of it. For all the people who want to posit solutions, we haven't seen any that make any sense.

"It's not some sort of knee-jerk opposition to playoffs, it's that the models don't respond to the things we have to pay attention to and the goals we have for college football.

"That's why it's the way it is. People think we don't spend anytime thinking about it. We think about it all the time. But there are a host of things.

"You have to protect the value of the regular season. It's the most valuable asset in college athletics, the regular season in college football. And we can't do anything that might diminish that. It's how we support our programs.

"Secondly, I think we saw clearly this year, there's enormous value in the bowl experience. And your ability to maintain a vibrant bowl system, if you go to a playoff, is in question.

"It's not just that we got to play and have a great experience in a great city. It's the experience of going to that city. It's taking the kids out to Fort Bliss for a day. And every bowl you go to, you have experiences like that. At the Hawaii Bowl, it was going to Pearl Harbor with the team.

"And there's so much about the bowl experience which is, we think, really good for a student-athlete that we want to protect that. From the perspective of a lot of universities, the intersection with finals is a critical issue, and any playoff model will impact that.

"And then of special concern, for a lot of us, is the additional games. We have a lot of evidence mounting up that there is a long-term toll that football players experience over the course of their careers. We have to manage that effectively and be responsive to that.

"I could go on all day, but we haven't seen playoff systems that respond to those issues and the others that we're concerned about. So I think this is the best solution."

Q: If you could change one thing about college football, what would it be?

A: "I don't know that I would change it, but I think that, as an industry, we have to be really careful about overexposure.

"The NFL manages that spectacularly well. Now, they're dealing with a much smaller universe of teams, but if there are two college football games every night of the week, we're going to have a challenge.

"We're going to face the challenge we now face with basketball, where it's become a bit of a commodity from a media perspective. I hope we can, as an industry - we can't do it collectively, we have to do it individually. But I hope we're all thoughtful about that.

"The other thing, I guess, - I hope it's an industry where we continue to have really quality matchups in college football. We're building some schedules in the future that are challenging. I think it's important for all of us in college football to try to make sure we're maintaining real high-quality matchups throughout the season. It's not a change. It's just something I hope we all pay attention to."

Q: Your reflections on Brian Kelly's first season.

A: Well from my perspective, he's a guy who, I've said many times, fit our criteria better than anybody else who we considered or talked to.

Has really met - and in many instances exceeded - my expectations of his fit and of his performance. He's just done a great job. He's been a great leader of the program, a great coach to our student-athletes, a great member of the university.

"I'm very excited about the future."

Staff writer Eric Hansen: 574-235-6470

swarbrick, field


looking at the schedules

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:51 @ Jay

Q: How close are you to releasing the 2013-2016 football schedules?

A: "We're not there yet. We have three holes left to go. We're close, though. We're getting there. Three away from being done through 2016."

Here's our future schedules worksheet (also in the "links & such" above). I'm not sure exactly what to make of "three holes left to go" for 2013-2016. There are some unconfirmed rumors:

* is the 2-game Temple series (2013-14) a 'go'?

* the BYU series is for four games over 7 years, but only the 2013 date is set. When will the other games be?

* is Army in Orlando in 2014 still on?



I like the fact that ND is looking for a S.E.C H&H

by hobbs, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:01 @ Jay

[ No text ]


I think he means an SEC opponent for a neutral site

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:12 @ hobbs

Q: Are there any plans to get a series with a Southeastern Conference team going?

A: "Not certain it will be a series, but we're exploring the possibilities of an SEC team being one of the off-site home games in the 6-5-1 format."


H&H would be better

by hobbs, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:18 @ Jay

but OS probably makes the game more sellable assuming the opponent is a program of quality.


Gator, others -- stuff in here on ND's media future

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:41 @ Jay

I know this has been a topic of interest, and it's not the first time we've heard JS mention new media delivery & outlets (specifically, "broadband" avenues).

Twenty years from now, what will "television" look like, and how would you like to see Notre Dame positioned to take advantage of it?


I know people will be angry in some circles

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:27 @ Jay

for him not saying "No Jumbrotron ever and no field turf ever!", but I think he handled those questions well. The Jumbotron at Yankee Stadium and the way they handled it was awesome, and there are some serious issues with footing at the Stadium.


I'm staunchly against a jumbotron. Bob Lee agrees with me

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:40 @ CW (Rakes)
edited by Jay, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:46

I think it's unnecessary and it would ruin an experience unique in all of college football.

In support I offer the immortal words of Bob Lee Stagger, a tarheel fan who visited ND Stadium in 2006 for the UNC game.,-Where-s-Your-J.aspx

The freakin' stadium is 76 damn years old and DOES NOT HAVE A JUMBOTRON! Two scoreboards, one at either end of the bowl that "might" be as high tech as what Independence High School has "¦ maybe. Gosh "¦ Knute, Ara, Dan, "¦. Ty, Charlie how do you impress "blue chippers" without "a Jumbo"?

No amplified rock music or rap music or any music other than real live "band music". So Notre Dame's version of "Board Loonies" can spend all the bandwidth they want suggesting the best entry music, pre-game warm-up music, etc "¦ but nobody that matters much cares. Granted, Notre Dame has this one catchy tune that is sorta cool. They call it "The Notre Dame Victory March". Other than making the freakin' hair on the back of your neck stand up and salute "¦ it's about all they got. Sure, the band's pre-game entry led by the Irish Guard is sorta cool (IF YOU HAVE A PULSE!) but, I mean it's not AC/DC or Pink Floyd.

Let's back-up a few steps "¦ you arrive in South Bend on GameDay and get the feeling these people have done this before. "Not their first rodeo" AT ALL. "General Parking" is a HUGE grassed field a mile north of campus. How huge? Well recall my suggestion a few years ago of bulldozing Derm and making what used to be Derm into a shuttle lot for Kenan? About "that huge". It costs $20 to park there but the roundtrip shuttle and unlimited use of porta-johns is included.

All the parking attendants and shuttle drivers and concession tent people and, apparently, EVERYBODY IN INDIANA is incredibly friendly. Again, these dummies don't read those threads about "gotta create a hostile environment for opposing team's fans" in order to be "a Big Time Football School". So these South Bend hayseeds see your Carolina Blue and say "hi, welcome to Notre Dame" and say nice things about UNC Basketball and smile and stuff. I asked them if they were as friendly to Michigan and Southern Cal fans. They said sure, why not? Why not indeed.

Speaking of UNC Basketball "¦ Guess who flew up on the American flight with Mizzus Swagger and BobLee? None other than Ye Olde Legend In The Basement" - His Deanship Hisownself. He didn't attract much attention from the several hundred Tar Heel fans on the plane "¦ nah "¦ NOT MUCH! I was grateful as it allowed BLS to be incognito. I could have used Dean on the return flight.

So, the endless stream of shuttle buses delivers you in five minutes to "the Library" aka "the Touchdown Jesus building".

The campus is nice if you like pretty buildings, lots of trees, tons of history, 80,000 nice friendly people, and a perfect Fall Football chill in the air "¦ although it was November 4th, it could have been that "blue gray October sky outlining the Four Horsemen"¦" that some guy named "Grantland" wrote about way back in the 1920s.

We rendezvoused with the Shadow of The Bell Tower Gang about a lob wedge from the stadium. "Eric" knew somebody who must have known somebody named Hornung or Montana to get a parking space THAT CLOSE. Again, more annoying Notre Dame fans smiling, waving and welcoming us to the game "¦ geeezzzz, do they think a football game is "A SOCIAL EVENT"? No wonder those Fighting Irish knuckleheads have no football tradition.

I asked our ND host about "tailgating rules". "Do you have "rules"? "Sure". Do you have "problems"? "No". "Why not". "Most people follow the rules". Obviously this place will never be a "Big Time Football School".

The campus reminded me a lot of Duke (yuck, ptui, gack "¦) which I also think is pretty. Mizzus says it is prettier than Duke. The SofBTG toured the whole campus.

Apparently those poor schlubs in South Bend stole our Old Well Walk idea. Except theirs is about a mile long and has about 20,000 fans lining the walk. Instead of our really cool "water fountain" they have to use some old building with "a Golden Dome" to start the walk. They make do.

We shopped at the bookstore where I ran into Lump The Mike Man and his pals. They seemed impressed with the whole Notre Dame GameDay thing too.

We got to our seats about 30 minutes before kick-off. A quick look around and it was obvious these folks were clueless about being a "Big Time Football School". "No Jumbotron" was just the beginning.

No giant logo painted at midfield. What do Michigan and USC players "stomp" after they win? They don't stomp anything. Oh ...

No fancy endzone design "¦ unless horizontal lines qualify as "fancy".

No helmet decals ... No "atta boy" stickers. Just "a plain gold helmet" ... just a plain gold NOTRE DAME helmet.

No names of the backs of the jerseys. Guess they haven't heard that 18 y/os with 4th grade reading comprehension need that ego trip. No wonder no kids want to go there.

The "press box" is bigger than Carter-Finley's old "Double-Wide In The Sky" but not a whole lot bigger. It looked like there was a relatively small "VIP box" in the press box but definitely NO SKY BOXES for corporate schmoozing. I mean REALLY "¦ IT'S THE NEW MILLENIUM YOU YAHOOS! "¦ WAKE UP!

They even have narrow wooden bleachers. Ever heard of ALUMINUM? No stadium seats with cupholders ??? Guess it's a money issue, huh? I understand some operation called NBC televises all their home games. Wonder how much that costs the University "¦ huh, NBC PAYS THEM ??? Yikes! And a freakin' BLIMP advertising tires circling overhead "¦ how lame is that? Give me a piper cub dragging a Jesse Jones Sausage banner any day "¦ right? Oh, did I mention a four jet fly-over? Mizzus Swagger goes bonkers at fly-overs.

Other than that tire company's blimp, there were no corporate logos ANYWHERE. Speaking of blimps "¦ did you see Charlie Weis in the gray mu mu?

The concourses inside the stadium have all these old black & white pictures on the walls. Guys in leather helmets and "Knute" "¦ and Hornungs, Montanas, and other has-beens. Oh "¦ guess what else? They have "PEEING TROUGHS" in the Men's rooms. Not a "peeing wall" but "troughs". I could not help wondering "¦ "did George Gipp ever stand here doing this?"

The ND band's pre-game entry, as noted, is OK if one likes that sorta thing "¦ and that one tune is kinda catchy. I think they borrowed it from that movie Rudy.

In the pre-game, their band does America The Beautiful then The National Anthem. 80,000 folks stood the whole time singing along and EVERYONE wearing a hat took it off through both songs. EVERYBODY, I checked. A bunch of goofy patriotic galoots no doubt. Smiling, friendly patriotic football fans "¦ boy, are these people out-to-lunch or WHAT?

Notre Dame sells out all 80,000+ seats to season ticket holders. The tickets are $59 each. In order to even get to buy season tickets, one must contribute $4,000 to the University. That minimum is going up next year. Imagine how well they could do if it was "a hostile environment" and if they had a Jumbotron?

I understand a lot of Tar Heel "real fans" decided not to make the trip to Notre Dame because (1) they wanted to show Dickie how upset they are, and (2) they could not get a weekend good conduct pass from "the home". Probably a good thing they stayed home what with that no frills stadium, no AC/DC music, all those friendly Indiana people, that Golden Dome thing, the big "Jesus" wall, and the band with THAT ONE SONG. [/i]


Great story

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:54 @ Jay

[ No text ]


another one

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 10:01 @ CW (Rakes)

SOUTH BEND--This can't be Big Time Football.

That's why Carolina made the 90-minute flight north to South Bend, right? They were in search of Big Time Football. Not just big time football.

Big. Time. Football.

But there wasn't a video board to be found inside Notre Dame Stadium. The scoreboards only had room for down, distance, and the time left in the quarter.

Fans in the stands sat on weathered wooden bleachers with no backs and the seat numbers stenciled on in plain white paint.

Where were the contests? Where was the buzz? Where were the laser lights and fireworks and clowns jumping out of Volkswagens?

Speaking of that, where was the traffic?

Coming into town two hours before the game, there were hardly any cars on the road. You zipped into South Bend on Angela Blvd., past the house with the sign in the yard that read, "Bathrooms $5.00," went straight through a stoplight, and there was Touchdown Jesus summoning you to the parking lot.

Which is about the time you realized why there wasn't any traffic: everyone was already at the game.

Two hours early.

Big Time Football does not just happen for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. It happens all day, starting at daybreak. This is what it says on the back of the Notre Dame parking passes:

"Spots can not be guaranteed less than 90 minutes before kickoff."


You can be cynical and you can hate Rudy, but it was almost impossible not to get a little tingle when the Notre Dame band lined up and those gold helmets and navy jerseys ran out of the tunnel. Maybe they get too much credit in national polls and maybe they get too much hype on ESPN and maybe they're on the cover of Sports Illustrated too often (the 12 covers framed in the press box are impressive...until you realize that's just the first dozen covers)--by the way, every other program in the country would love to be complained about in the same way, kind of like Carolina in basketball--but the history seeps out of every corner of the stadium.

Structurally, the stadium itself is not as physically imposing as Clemson or Florida State. Get a wide view from the press box and the extremely narrow sidelines (purposely designed by Knute Rockne to be narrow to try and eliminate "unnecessary visitors," a quest that evidently didn't work based on the drift on the sidelines) make the stadium appear tiny.

Let Death Valley be the equivalent of Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame Stadium is content to be Wrigley Field.

Wrigley has a feel. South Bend has that same feel. It doesn't need fancy electronics or jazzy introductions. It has history, and it simply waits for you to be overwhelmed by it. Carolina players noticed it during their walk-through on Friday, when several of them couldn't resist snapping photos and, for a couple minutes, acting like tourists.


As am I.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:47 @ Jay

And my position on the jumbotron has been solidified by the reactions of non-ND people who watch a game in our stadium. You hear words like "timeless" and "pure." It might have been Spencer Hall, but someone made the astute observation that everything about ND stadium directs the attention of the fans to the football field. There aren't any bells and whistles to distract from the ritual of watching the football game. I doubt you can find that kind of atmosphere anywhere else in college football. Why would you want to lose that?

As to the field turf, my first choice is a quality natural surface, but I would prefer turf to the shithole of a field we had last season. Still, people have been playing football on grass in midwestern weather for over a centuray. Why can't we make a grass field work?


My feelings exactly.....

by bk, Friday, January 28, 2011, 11:38 @ Slainte Joe

I don't want a jumbotron. I've come to believe that watching a football game at Notre Dame is a singular experience unlike anything any other big-time college football program can offer. It is in line with the unapologetic mantra, "We are Notre Dame." The university, with its combination of Catholic tradition, academic excellence, and clean, big-time football (and other sports programs), is unlike any other in the country.

For these reasons, I would also prefer that we play on grass and not field turf. But our field has started to influence the game in a negative way. When players can't get their footing, it could be unsafe. If we can't produce a natural field such that it has no noticeable effect on play, then I would (grudgingly) accept field turf.


had the pleasure of hosting Spencer for UCLA '06

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:54 @ Slainte Joe

We talked forever about the differences in gameday experience. Here's part of his writeup:


A Fenway-style manual scoreboard would not be out of place here--in fact, we'll go ahead and suggest that Notre Dame put one in for style points. The retro, logo-free endzones are obvious to television viewers, but a single detail became a microcosm of the Notre Dame experience for us:


Unfinished, splintery, and creaky old wooden planks make up the lower rung of seating, with numbers stenciled on in military font spaced just far enough to allow for the squeezing of cheeks clearly not fed daily on a diet of high-fructose corn syrup. You want Knute Rockne's benches? Well, there they are, brown and unforgiving. It's a no-frills, crystallized vision of antediluvian game-watching that is a bit jarring to those accustomed to videologue game intros and WOO-HOO! FIREWORKS to start the game, but after a few minutes it's hard not to feel a sudden fondness for leather helmets, the flying wedge, and players with long, unpronounceable Slavic names...


What's the argument against field turf

by hobbs, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:00 @ CW (Rakes)




by JRT, Island of Misfit Toys, Friday, January 28, 2011, 10:32 @ hobbs
edited by JRT, Friday, January 28, 2011, 10:37

It's a bright, bright surface that wouldn't go well with the bluegray sky, the concrete bowl, the brown wooden seats, etc.

I suppose you could tinker with the coloring, but field turf, aesthetically, has the same jarring effect on the eyeballs as Astroturf.

Grass changes color over the course of the fall-some of that should be reduced, but some of it is natural, and grass color that looks right Labor Day weekend isn't going to look right in November.


Look, it's been said by others of a similar mind to myself

by Chris (HCC) @, Paradise, Friday, January 28, 2011, 10:21 @ hobbs

but Lambeau is the gold standard of a cold-weather grass field. Granted, it's a hybrid system, but damned if that grass didn't look immaculate in January the two times I've had the great fortune to go to a playoff game there.

Jack needs to put in a call to Green Bay and get those guys down here STAT.



by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 10:25 @ Chris (HCC)

Lambeau Named 2009 'Field Of The Year'

by Mike Spofford,
posted 12/02/2009

Maintaining a quality, state-of-the-art playing surface in Green Bay, Wis., has its share of challenges, and the crew dedicated to taking care of Lambeau Field has been recognized as one of the best at handling them.

The Sports Turf Managers Association has named Lambeau Field the 2009 Field of the Year for professional football, an award Fields Manager Allen Johnson and his staff can take considerable pride in.

"Of all the NFL stadiums, ours has the shortest growing season and sometimes the harshest weather conditions, but despite that we're still doing a really good job," Johnson said. "Consistently I think our field has played very well - that's the most important thing - and it ranks right up there as far as aesthetics."

A panel of STMA judges evaluated all of the entries in several categories - playability and appearance of the playing surface, innovative solutions employed, effective use of budget, and the development and implementation of a comprehensive, sound agronomic program.

Johnson submitted a lengthy application that included all the details behind the reconstruction of the field with the DD GrassMaster system in 2007 and the process of maintaining the new surface since then. Johnson's submission also included dozens of photos depicting some of the difficulties encountered and what was done in response.

"They wanted us to tell the whole story, not just show the field when it looks glamorous," Johnson said. "They wanted us to describe the struggles and the innovative solutions we tried to overcome them."

One of those instances occurred last year, when Lambeau Field was halfway through its 10-game season. Johnson described how the turf had grown so thick that the players' cleats weren't fully anchoring in the sand and GrassMaster-fiber base, causing some slippage.

Despite the mid-October time frame and the growing season winding down, Johnson and his crew - which includes assistants Bart Bartelme, Derek Paris and Joel Hunt, and seasonal intern Matt Collins - tried an aggressive and somewhat risky approach of thinning out the turf, "beating it up" in a sense to expose more of the better sand-based footing.

Johnson admitted the field didn't "look" as good aesthetically for its next game, the Indianapolis contest on Oct. 19, but the surface played better and the overall look improved for the subsequent November home games.

"It's not about what it looks like all the time," Johnson said. "It's about performance."

Another challenge occurs annually late in the year, when the regular nighttime temperature drops below the mid-20s. The field is tarped to protect it and to help the underground heat system, but moisture still accumulates on the underside of the tarp - moisture that either remains on the surface of the turf when the tarp is removed (causing slickness) or that turns to frost and can cause the tarp to stick to the turf (leading to the turf getting torn up when the tarp is taken off).

Prior to the 2007 NFC Championship Game, Johnson and his crew tried using industrial blowers to force a warm cushion of air underneath the tarp and prevent that moisture/frost layer from forming. Despite sub-zero temperatures and wind chills, there were no problems with the field in that game, and the warm-air blowers have been the late-season solution to that issue ever since.

The award will be presented in January at the 21st annual STMA Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.

As he noted in the award application, Johnson said that many of the practices employed at Lambeau Field come from having open dialogue with other professionals in the business. Their suggestions can then be incorporated or tweaked to fit what works in this climate.

"You can't compare Green Bay with Miami, Fla., but we're still doing a really good job," Johnson said. "There are a lot of things to overcome, and we try to go the extra mile.

"We try not to have the attitude that 'that's just the way it is.' We never stop trying to put our best foot forward."



by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 10:29 @ Jay

In a project that will take several months to complete, DD GrassMaster, a natural grass surface reinforced with man-made fibers developed by Desso DLW Sports Systems, will be installed on top of a completely new drainage and heating system. The new surface and underlying systems represent the latest developments in field management.

"We feel we need to have the best natural grass field possible," said Ted Thompson, the Packers' Executive Vice President and General Manager. "We're confident this will serve historic Lambeau Field well. It's grass, so that remains true to the spirit of our stadium; players will get dirty and have grass stains, that kind of thing. It's worked very well the last two seasons on Hinkle Field."

DD GrassMaster's advantage mainly is attributed to the sand-based soil, which allows superior drainage and softer, more consistent footing over the current clay-based field. Because a sand-based root zone has less stability, the system employs the use of millions of strands of polyethylene and polypropylene materials eight inches below the surface with one inch exposed on the top. This gives the field firm footing and eliminates clumps of sod tearing from the surface. Furthermore, even after a full season's wear late in the year, the footing remains excellent due to the soil-strengthening strands.

In addition to the success the Packers have experienced with the surface on Clarke Hinkle Field, the team can look to the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers for endorsement of the product as each of those clubs use the surface in their stadiums. In fact, the Packers have seen firsthand the quality footing at late-season games at the Eagles' Lincoln Financial Field each of the last three years.

The project will commence upon the conclusion of the season and begin with removing all current levels of the field. The first layers will consist of a clay base with drain tile and irrigation piping. The second level consists of four inches of gravel with 30-plus miles of tubing for the heating system. The third level is made of 12 inches of sand and the top level consists of the sod with its reinforcing fibers.

Depending on the weather's effect on the first stages of the process, the sod will be placed in late April or early May. After the roots are firmly established, by late July, the fibers will be stitched in place.

Due to the enhanced drainage capabilities, fans at Lambeau will notice no perceptible crown on the field. A slight slope will exist, about a half-degree decline, to assist with water and snow removal when the field is covered with a tarp.


I don't want field turf

by Dylan, Santa Barbara, CA, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:35 @ hobbs

I want grass that doesn't come up in pizza-box-sized chunks within minutes of the first kickoff of each season. Not exactly a moon-shot level dilemma, you'd think. It appears we can't do it. If we can't do it after 20 years of trying, then bring in the goddamn field turf.

In the internet era hive-mind, all ND traditions seem to have begun and ended in 1986. Tradition, as it relates to the field, is no different than the traditions surrounding our uniforms. That is to say, there is no tradition.



Tradition at ND died in 1898

by River, Hell of the Upside Down Sinners, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:58 @ Dylan

When ND took Chicago Dental off the schedule.


I don't care

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:49 @ Dylan

My HS put in field turf because its field was overused and continuously in shitty shape. As an all-boys Catholic school, we had a bunch of alums crying foul. Then it stayed in great shape all year long, injuries went down, bad bounces off hard dirt patches disappeared, and other local schools joined in. Now they're raising money for their second installation because this one is showing its age.

Other than the beautiful smell of the grass being replaced by the smell of rubber and plastic, fieldturf is not bad at all.


What's the argument for everything?

by Jim (fisherj08) @, A Samoan kid's laptop, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:06 @ hobbs



Lionel Hutz? Larry Hagman? Linda Hamilton?

by hlewis, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:41 @ Jim (fisherj08)

Lon Haney?


Luke Harangody?

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:47 @ hlewis

I thought it was McAlarney who loved grass.


Lewis, Huey

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Friday, January 28, 2011, 09:46 @ hlewis

Is that really you?


I'm glad he shares the disappointment in the field quality

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:56 @ CW (Rakes)

It really sucked.


The Jumbotron at Yankee Stadium was certainly nice

by Rob (Rakes of Mallow), Chicago, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:36 @ CW (Rakes)

Though I think one of that size would look awful at the Stadium and would not be a welcome addition, in my opinion.

If they went the Jumbotron route, I would prefer just putting it in the scoreboard. It doesn't have to be 'jumbo'.


This is more what I had in mind

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:56 @ Rob (Rakes of Mallow)


But I agree, I guess I was referring more to what they put on the Jumbrotron as opposed to the actual size. I'm also hearing good thing about the use of the one in the Joyce Center, but that's only a few posts and tweets here and there.


what is "Chair of the Big East"?

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:23 @ Jay

Seems like it'd be awfully difficult to get traction on a "Make ND join for football or else!" campaign when the "Chair of the Big East" is the ND president.


it looks like this

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:28 @ HumanRobot


(I imagine it's a seat occupied by a member president on a rotating basis)

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