September 22, 2011
New Braunfels (Texas) Canyon High is in the midst of its first football season competing on one of the nation's most unique surfaces: A bright red, synthetic turf field. While playing on that new turf, Canyon has donned bright red jerseys, bright red pants and its traditional white and red, Nebraska-style helmets for each of its home games. If you're still trying to get your head around what that looks like, imagine someone taking a screen shot from a Boise State game and then dumping a huge can of blood red paint all over it.
Or, just check out the picture above.
Now, four games -- and four wins -- into Canyon's inaugural run at a red field schedule, opponents are already complaining that the team's home turf and uniforms are an unfair advantage, saying that Canyon players blend in to the field too well to be accurately defended, or planned for on offense.
As the Austin American-Statesman's Rick Cantu put it, Canyon's opponents are "seeing red."
While the argument that Canyon has a color scheme advantage may be a relevant one, it's not particularly unique. Boise State has been facing similar gripes for years and, in 2011, was finally forced to abandon its all blue uniforms when it joined the Mountain West Conference. It understandably complained when it was forced to do so, as no argument about an all blue color palate had ever been deemed relevant before.
According to the American-Statesman, Canyon officials are defending their right to wear red, and some of their cohorts from other schools in the state are defending their right to do so, too.
One coach in particular has a unique perspective on Canyon's bright red field, because he could compare it to Boise State's; San Antonio East Central coach Robert Walker was a coach at Stephen F. Austin when the Lumberjacks played on Boise State's blue turf in the 1990s.
Here's how the East Central coach broke down the Canyon red field advantage to the American-Statesman:
Walker said his East Central players faced a "wow factor" when they stepped onto the red turf at Cougar Stadium on Sept. 2. "After that they just played football," Walker said, recalling his squad's 35-8 loss in Canyon's first football game on the new field.
Walker said the camouflage issue was most pertinent when breaking down game film. He remembers players "getting lost on the blue turf" while he was scouting Boise State on video tape. The advent of high-definition video makes it easier to view the players, he said.
Walker downplayed the notion that the red field gives Canyon an unfair advantage.
"If we had it in the budget, I'd make it so our team had an all-gold field," said Walker, whose school's colors are black and gold. "And we'd come out with gold pants, gold jerseys, gold helmets."
Walker's last point may be the most salient, as there's little chance that red field is going anywhere anytime soon. Perhaps one day the red uniforms will just look a lot more out of place on a gold field somewhere in San Antonio.