Bronco Beat

Boise State’s iconic turf named one of college football’s most important changes

When the topic of what the top changes to college football come up, certainly the proliferation of television, changes in recruiting, overtime and allowing freshmen to play right away come to mind.

But how about the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium?

Athlon Sports, in its annual college football preview magazine, ranked the 50 most significant college football developments of the last 50 years. Rounding out the list was what it calls “Smurf Turf.”

It reads: “Talk all you want about Kentucky bluegrass, but the stuff Boise State plays on is really blue. Back in 1986, the Broncos were set to install a new artificial turf field at Albertsons Stadium, and BSU’s athletic director at the time, Gene Bleymaier, was upset that no one would know the school spent $750,000 on the carpet. So, he decided to make it a distinctive color. Visitors from 37 different countries and all 50 states have checked it out, and the school isn’t about to change things: In 2010, a survey revealed 90% of Boise residents love the blue turf.”

Now, we can debate if truly 90 percent of residents love the turf (there are plenty of Idaho graduates after all), but the out of the box way to promote the team and the university certainly bears mention. The list’s No. 1 is ESPN, followed by scholarship limits and the integration of the SEC. At No. 43 is one of the biggest, in my opinion: the sadly-departed NCAA Football video game series.

Check out the magazine, for sale now. Boise State is Athlon’s No. 35 team in the nation and predicts the Broncos to go 10-3 overall, 7-1 in the Mountain West, but for them to ultimately win the conference title. They’re projected to play Colorado in the Las Vegas Bowl. Junior quarterback Brett Rypien, senior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, senior offensive tackle Archie Lewis, junior defensive lineman David Moa and junior cornerback Tyler Horton are preseason first-team all-conference picks.