In February, a report that new Texas Longhorns athletics director Chris Del Conte would re-install a natural grass playing surface at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium sparked a furor in the fan base, but was quickly shot down by Del Conte. At the time, Del Conte said the timing of that project was “conjecture at this point in time.”
With Del Conte and head coach Tom Herman currently traveling the state on the This Is Texas tour, both discussed the possibility once again.
For his part, Del Conte re-expressed his preference for a grass surface, as he did in February. Herman said that he goes back and forth on the topic.
“I would love grass,” Herman said. “I love grass. I believe that football was meant to be played on grass. In our part of the country, there isn’t a lot of teams with grass.”
In fact, the grass turf that was installed from 1996 to 2008 came out because the field was in such poor shape for the Texas-Texas A&M game that closed that regular season. Now the current FieldTurf surface is so durable, the Longhorns hold conditioning drills on the field throughout the offseason.
The school is also free to hold high school football playoff games late in the year without concerns about a repeat of that sloppy 2008 game.
From the big-picture standpoint, there are no limitations to how much activity can happen on the field, a calculus that changes significantly by going back to grass.
If the school decides to take on the significant cost of upkeep for another grass playing surface, Herman would likely have to bus players to the practice facility for every offseason workout, just as the program transports players there during spring practice and the football season.
Aesthetically and traditionally, a grass playing surface is ideal, but there are practical considerations that could keep the FieldTurf from being torn out of the stadium.