Notre Dame Football: Tradition v. Modern – Grass or Turf – the Debate Rages On

Remember playing backyard football and heading inside for refreshments, grass stains everywhere?

Or playing in high school in the rain, with mud and grass and water flying everywhere? Those were the days.

Since the early 2010s when artificial turf became mainstream, traditionalists have harped on the benefits of natural grass, while youthful recruits and new age fans have extolled the benefits of the speed of turf.

Four Irish players, either this season or in the lead-up to this season, have torn their ACLs, presumably on artificial turf, during games or practices, and are out for the season.

Eli Raridon. Bo Bauer. Kevin Bauman. Avery Davis.

Two tight ends, a linebacker, and a senior captain wide receiver. All are out for the year with lower leg injuries, including Raridon this week in practice.

The debate rages on regarding artificial turf versus natural grass. Notre Dame Stadium had natural grass until 2014, when under former head coach Brian Kelly, after 84 Irish seasons on natural, iconic grass, it made the change to the rubber and eternal green of artificial grass.

When grass was “in,” the Irish would grow the grass long – in theory, to slow down opponents such as former USC running back Reggie Bush, when during his 2005 Heisman campaign and in the “Bush Push” game, he ran for 160 yards on 15 carries, an average of 10.7 yards per carry, for three touchdowns and a 45-yard run against the Irish.

“Rudy” had Rudy running pretend punt returns on the field as the sprinklers ran and Fortune tilled the ground.

Natural grass was iconic, and it left stains to show you just how hard you worked.

Turf, it seems, only leads to more injury.

This week, Raridon went down with an ACL tear – the fourth this season.

According to the NFL Players Association:

“Based on NFL injury data collected from 2012 to 2018, not only was the contact injury rate for lower extremities higher during practices and games held on artificial turf, NFL players consistently experienced a much higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries on turf compared to natural surfaces. Specifically, players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf. Of those non-contact injuries, players have a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf and a staggering 69% higher rate of non-contact foot/ankle injuries on turf compared to grass.”

Turf wears on the body more. It hurts the joints and has less give. Grass gives. Turf does not.

While the Irish suffered yet another artificial turf injury this week with Raridon’s season-ending ACL tear, they play on. Senior captain Avery Davis had been a stalwart in the wide receiver corps. Whether he opts to apply for a seventh season remains to be seen, but he certainly could have helped out the struggling and inconsistent offense this season.

ACL injuries have been fairly frequent on the artificial turf for the Irish in the recent past. Current NFL player and former Irish star Drue Tranquill tore his ACL in 2015, when celebrating a pass breakup in the end zone. Six Irish players were out that year with lower leg injuries.

In 2021, there were 56 ACL tears in the NFL, including 53 on artificial turf.

Head Coach Marcus Freeman wants a hard-nosed, smash-mouth football team that relies on its offensive and defensive lines. He continues to push the “trenches” as the team’s identity.

History tells us those teams come from toughness, grittiness, and forces of nature.

It’s time for grass stains again – natural and authentic.

Even if it doesn’t slow the other team down, it’ll help with the health of the Irish, and that’s what’s important and natural.

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      1. Boxing is targeting, David. Not football, especially not grade school or high school football. I learned a lot about boxing at CYO camp at Lake Wawassee when I was a boy.
        Concussions happen to little boys naturally. It’s part of growing up. But you should not be going out of your way to get them! Might as well sniff glue from a brown paper bag if you are going to Box in 5th or 6th grade, right?

        BGC 77 82

        PS; Nice to hear from you, SpicyIrish…where’s Steelfan and Southside? Love you guys.

        BGC 77 82

  1. We’ve succeeded in taking offensive football back to the 18th century. I’m quite sure football wasn’t being played back then, but if it were, this is the way it would have looked.

    1. In entertainment news….

      Syracuse got jobbed in Death Valley.
      Two game-changing unnecessary hit out of bounds plays: the first a pretty weak call against Syracuse, costing them a drive; the other a perfectly identical no-call for Clemson that ended with a TD.

      There’s no cookin’ like home cookin’ .

  2. Anyone remember that weird photo last year of Brian Kelly and his doppleganger both holding an 18″ piece of white PVC sewer pipe with “Win!” on it?
    Well, that unfortunate looking fellow is the LSU AD, Scott Woodward.
    And today, he was given a 4-year contract extension and salary of $1.85 million as a big “reward”…
    ….for signing head coaches Kim Mulkey, now infamous for completely ghosting Baylor alumnus and superstar player in a Russian gulag, Britney Griner.
    ….and Brian Kelly, a similarly self-absorbed egomaniac, who holds the most wins over nobodies to win precisely nothing.

    1. Emo boy lost his Doritos and knows absolutely nothing about football and never played the game.Freeman and Rees are overmatched and can only beat the UNLV level football teams.But keep d distracting by talking about Brian Kelly

    2. The United States of America legally categorizes cannabis as a schedule ONE narcotic, with draconian penalties for anyone bringing it into OUR country, ESPECIALLY via an international airport…
      That leaves Brittany Griner
      (and our useless Congress) without a leg to stand on.
      See you in 10 years Britt. We are praying for you.

      BGC 77 82

      1. So…outed homophobe? miserable, heartless hypocrite “Christian” ? nouveau-America tyrant admirer ?…..
        …or d) all of the above ?

  3. Administration bent over backwards to give Kelly more than any other ND coach ever asked for.
    And he still flamed the place after he left…..

    ….as a chronic big game doormat, who Swarbrick let loiter long enough to set a record for meaningless wins.

    1. Sure David because Freeman is doing so well, and Freeman cannot pull a quarterback, even when the team needs a spark

      1. People yakkity yak a streak and waste your time of day
        But Mister Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.

        ….smart horse.

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