It was clear from the opening kickoff in Monday night’s BCS Championship that the field at University of Phoenix Stadium was going to be a problem. Josh Huff took the opening kick and slipped at the goalline. An Auburn player also slipped running down field to cover the kick, going down with a leg injury in the process. Many blamed the cleats for the slips, but it’s the field — not the shoes — that was at fault.
Throughout the game, announcers kept mentioning the turf was brand new. After the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, the decision was made to start over, resurfacing the field again. With a brand new, watered-down field for the BCS Championship, players from both teams spent the game looking like they were running on ice, not a field worth of a championship game.
The turf was bad for both teams, and wasn’t necessary some great equalizers. The Oregon Ducks value perimeter speed, typically racing to the edge before cutting upfield in the blink of an eye. Unable to do so in the BCS Championship, a pivotal aspect of their game went missing.
Would grass in prime-condition mean the outcome would’ve been different? Odds are it wouldn’t, but when the turf, and the terrible condition of it, is a big storyline in the game, that’s a problem. Both Oregon and Auburn rely on speed, but saw it neutralized in the biggest game of their seasons. Defensive were unable to keep their footing, offensive players were going down after relatively simple cuts and, perhaps, the level of play suffered because of it.
Would it have killed organizers of the BCS Championship to at least make sure the caliber of the playing surface matched the caliber of the teams?