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New turf...two years overdue?

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Newbie QB AJ Hill passes to RB Me'co Brown (via <a href=""></a>)
Newbie QB AJ Hill passes to RB Me'co Brown (via

When I started reading this John Sahly article, I was in a pretty good mood. I'm excited for our field to finally have new FieldTurf. It only cost a cool $500K from the NIU Board of Trustees.

But then I read on and some things started to bother me.

The previous turf was installed in 2001 to replace the real grass that used to be in Huskie Stadium (remember real grass?). Dekalb weather can get pretty crazy, and I could only imagine what it took to maintain the field back then.

[Note by Mike Breese, 07/06/09 3:42 PM CDT ] As reader NIU_Roadkill points out, Huskie Stadium actually had some sort of psuedo-astro turf kind of deal before the FieldTurf installatioin.

We're gonna need Me'co Brown healthy in his second year, as he is a fan of the new turf:

"It's better on your shins, your knees and your feet also," Brown said. "You can make better cuts. You see a big difference."

That's a big deal for the sophomore running back, who dealt with a foot injury for part of last season.

"Because it was so old, it played a big part on a lot of injuries, especially my foot," Brown said. "It happened against Eastern Michigan (at EMU), but practicing on that turf didn't make anything feel good."

"We rolled on it, turned on it, did backflips, front flips," Brown said. "That's all part of the workout. Everything feels good."

Backflips & frontflips as part of a workout? Interesting. This is good and all, then Chandler Harnish goes and plays the 2007 card:

Quarterback Chandler Harnish said the problems with the old turf didn't start last season, either.

"You remember two years ago we had so many knee injuries and the turf was a big cause because cleats were getting stuck in it," Harnish said. "This stuff doesn't allow you to do that. It's very necessary and worth the money."

How bad was this old stuff?

Harnish added, "You feel like a different athlete," on the turf, a notion wide receiver Landon Cox agreed with.

Harnish said he noticed big differences last season in the ground in DeKalb versus trips to Ball State and Western Michigan, which had newer turf.

"It felt like you were playing on soft sand, like on a beach," Harnish said. "Here it felt like you were playing on concrete. Having this is huge for us. It can only help us and we're happy."

2007 is a special year to me, because that's when I started this blog. It's like a punch in the gut thinking about what could have been prevented if this turf had been replaced earlier. Insane numbers of ACL & season-ending injuries. We're talking about 20+ guys over the entire 2-10 season. This ended careers and even affected last year's team because some players were slow to recover. Sure, conditioning played a role as well but the new turf would have helped.

All the practices, games, marching band performances, high school games, extreme weather and whatever else must have wore this turf down earlier than the 8-year warranty that FieldTurf places on their products. Obviously I'm giddy about the new surface, because I just want to see our players succeed and not get hurt out there.