De Carolis behind OSU's blue practice field

2010-09-21T23:45:00Z 2015-03-25T18:13:04Z De Carolis behind OSU's blue practice fieldBy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

Bob De Carolis was behind the blue grass on Prothro Field.

The Oregon State athletic director thought about painting the practice field to mimic Bronco Stadium right after the OSU football team lost to Boise State there in 2006.

De Carolis heard many teams say after playing there, including his own, the field was a distraction. Boise State coach Chris Petersen said his new players don't notice a difference.

However, there must be something to the 56-game regular season winning streak by the third-ranked Broncos.

The only loss there since 1999 was to Boston College in a bowl game, where the Broncos were considered the visiting team.

"Don't read into it too much," De Carolis said of the blue practice field. "It's about having fun. If you are superstitious, some coaches change hotels or bus companies. We decided to change the color of the field. If it works is irrelevant. We are just having fun with it. There's a lot of interest, so from the publicity standpoint that was pretty cool, too."

Coach Mike Riley is not a flashy, gimmicky person. So for him going for the idea is out of the norm.

However, he embraced the idea now that it's done.

"The best thing about it, it's an emphasis on this is a big game and it's fun," Riley said. "Everybody who has played there noted it's different. It's a different feel. This literally paints a picture of where we are going. But it's all about the football. We have to play a really good football game."

Riley told the players about the plan Sunday night at the team meeting. There was laughter and confusion from the group.

"I thought it was kind of weird and I didn't see the point," tight end John Reese said. "I still don't see the point. I guess it was for publicity."

Safety Lance Mitchell paused briefly when he heard the news, but then accepted the idea and hopes it works.

"It's turf; it's rubber and whatever else there is to it," Mitchell said. "It's all the same to me. I just want to play football. I think that's more for (ESPN's College) Game Day and the fans. We will practice on it, so if it helps us adjust to it, that's all good."

An anonymous donor paid for the $7-8,000 project. The Beavers used half the paint. They bought extra because they didn't know how much was needed.

"If it works there's an aftermarket for the next team to buy it from us," De Carolis said.

The Beavers tested a blue patch on the grass field during the summer and it didn't look right, De Carolis said.

Workers accidentally ran over white paint on the field and it looked better. So a white base coat was put down first followed by the blue for a total of 440 gallons.

The Beavers hope rain stays away this week. The paint is water-based and would be a mess.

Word spread nationally about what the Beavers did and it reached Petersen, who was asked about it when speaking with reporters on Monday.

His response was the Beavers are right where the Broncos want them. That hinted that the game was already won because the Beavers are mentally defeated.

"I don't think it's in our heads," Riley said. "We understand first and foremost, the hardest thing about Boise is not the blue field. They are a very good football team with good players and well-coached."

Riley reworked his practice plan this week due to using the blue practice field. He normally keeps his players in Reser Stadium because it has a synthetic surface like they play on during games.

It also has speakers that can simulate the loudness of away games in rowdy stadiums. Typically the Beavers practice with noise on Thursday, but the plan is to go all week for this game.

Practice Tuesday started with special teams in the stadium. Then the team moved up to the blue practice field for a stretch.

The offense then returned to the stadium at the end to hear the noise while the defense stayed on the blue grass.

"It's kind of weird," quarterback Ryan Katz said. "I've never played on a blue field. The guys enjoyed it. It was a cool experience."

Even the scout team players wore blue jerseys to blend in with the field the way the Broncos do on their field.

There's no NCAA rule against painting fields different colors. Riley suggested there should be legislation to stop teams from doing this, but De Carolis said that would be hard.

He felt regulating the color of jerseys would be easier. Players then wouldn't be able to hide on the field.

"I think we are having fun with it," Katz said. "It might help, but it's still just football."

And for the record, De Carolis said, there are no plans to paint the Reser Stadium turf orange. The end zones were orange when the old AstroTurf was in and the color faded to pink.

"We wouldn't want that, and we like our stadium just the way it is," he said.

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