The grass practice field has to go

I live a punt away from Mountaineer Field. It’s pretty cool walking to games and practices and press conferences or using the music from the stadium speakers as ambiance when I’m on my deck. I, like many others, walk my dog around the stadium. Sometimes we come across a coach or a player and have a brief chat.

On the busy days during camp or the season, when I’m in and out of the house for press conferences and practice and interviews, I try to walk the beagle around the stadium. It’s good for both of  us.

One such day was Aug. 4. There was practice on the practice field. I watched the open part of it. I came home and knocked out a vlog. I walked the dog out of the neighborhood, down the hill past the practice field and the indoor facility, around the stadium and … wait a second.

The team wasn’t on the practice field. It was in the stadium. That’s extraordinarily weird and, it turns out, important.

It takes time and effort to move from the practice field to the stadium. Imagine all the football and video equipment and the water and training supplies that have to go from one to the other.

I thought it was odd and eventually discovered why it happened. WVU fled the grass practice field that day because it was in horrible shape and kind of dangerous.

That led to what probably looked like, and surely felt like, my awkward question in a subsequent press conference. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I had to try … and it’s pretty clear Dana no longer discusses facilities.

But the players? Different story. Two were hurt in the Oklahoma drill that day and another avoided a scary situation. The fraction of the practice they spent up there was sort of spooky and almost completely pointless, which apparently prompted the site change.

“We were pulling large chunks of grass out when we were trying to cut or push off,” one player told the Charleston Daly Mail. “You shouldn’t be slipping like that in practice. You don’t want a guy to injure himself because of the field and not because something else happened that you can’t control.”

After talking to a bunch of players, it was clear WVU has a problem: The grass field is a mess, and if it’s going to remain in the shape it’s been in, the players do not want to work out there.

“I think it would be a problem,” a player said. “Certain guys don’t feel comfortable up there.”

There are two reasons:

1) Nobody wants to blow out a knee or roll an ankle because of shoddy sod.
2) Players can’t practice appropriately (fast, sharp, confident movement) because of No. 1.

That’s an issue, and it’s a new issue atop an existing issue. WVU went from being able to use the grass field a handful of times a year to maybe not at all.

Say what you want about Dana’s belief that you shouldn’t practice where you play — though he’s right that pretty much nobody else does — but an artificial surface where the grass field is now is the solution to all the tempests in that one teapot.

Will it happen?


It’s not in the plans right now and a spokesperson told me “to replace the grass practice field would require a fundraising project.” Football and the Mountaineer Athletic Club just raised the money for the new team meeting room.

WVU has told the University Planning Committee it’s going to spend upwards of around $3.5 million to replace the Mountaineer Field turf after the 2014 season (around $1.5-1.8 million to install the turf, but much more if WVU decides to remove the crown beneath the field, level it out and make sure a system is in place to drain the field appropriately … which seems likely).

Since the practice field and the competition field would have to be the same — and since hardly anyone likes or features crowned fields now — WVU would have to raise somewhere around $3.5 million to put turf on the practice field.

13 Responses to “The grass practice field has to go”

  1. DanInNJ says:

    I remember Holgorsen bringing this up a long while back….as I remember he didn’t stress the condition of the facilities as much as the premise that MPS should be considered hollowed ground of sorts and should only be used for walk-throughs and games. There should be an adequate practice field.

    I make it rain through the MAC every year with a $100 donation. If I live another 3,500 years they will have their practice field and it will have my name on it.

  2. JC says:

    Why are such fundraising efforts needed with the large (and growing) amount of conference money rolling in? Or how about the IMG contract money? Or how about the facility upgrade plan throughout the athletic department, which I recall not all of the overall estimated dollar amount was account for in potential projects? What good is all this new CFB/Conference money if you can’t even afford to replace a dumpy practice field without begging for donations…..

  3. Drew says:

    Anybody tell you that they miss the practice field, if, if, if a coach says they missed the practice field and y’all hear it then that’s that. They might have used the practice field for one practice this year, but if, if somebody say “They can’t use the practice field” but for one practice out of all the practices this year, that’s enough. If they can’t practice on a practice field, they can’t practice on a practice field, man. If it isn’t safe, it isn’t safe. I mean, it’s as simple as that. It ain’t about that. I mean, it’s not about that. At all. You know what I’m saying, I mean, but it’s, it’s, it’s easy, to, to talk about…It’s easy to sum it up when you’re just talking about a practice field. We’re sitting in here, and Mack thinks he’s the franchise commenter, and we in here talking about a practice field. I mean, listen we’re talking about a practice field. Not a game field, not a game field, not a game field, we talking about a practice field. Not a game field. Not, not, not a game field that they go out there and die for and play every game like it’s their last. Not the game field, but we’re talking about a practice field, man. I mean, how silly is that? And we talking about a practice field. I know they supposed to be there. I know Dana doesn’t want to practice in the stadium. I know that. And I’m not, I’m not shoving it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important. I do. I honestly do, but we’re talking about a practice field, man. What are we talking about? A practice field? We’re talking about a practice field, man. We’re talking about a practice field. We’re talking about a practice field. We ain’t talking about the game field. We’re talking about a practice field, man. When you come in the arena, and you see them play, you see them play don’t you? You’ve seen them give everything they got, right? But we’re talking about a practice field right now. We’re talking about pr…
    Man, look, I hear you. It’s funny to me, too. I mean, it’s strange. It’s strange to me, too, but we’re talking about a practice field, man. We’re not even talking about the game field. The actual game field, where it matters. We’re talking about a practice field.

  4. JC says:

    {slow clap} Bravo Drew….Bravo!

  5. netbros says:

    At least half the Big 12 money goes to coaches’ salaries. If WVU had not joined the Big 12, they would not be able to afford the coaches they presently have.

  6. Dann White says:

    You think about that! (My head hurts too much.)

  7. Josh24601 says:

    The people in charge of things are just in charge of them. There is no reason.

  8. Down South says:

    That’s beyond words, Drew. Beyond words.

  9. JPWVURFL says:

    Wait… when did the plans change? It was in IMG’s second proposal that they would contribute toward turf for the practice field. I’m thinking it was only about $300k, but it was toward a project to replace the turf on the practice field.

  10. NotFooled says:

    Well played Drew

    There are a lot of capitol improvements already in the pipeline, I figure this project will have to get in line, but it will get done eventually…part of the facilities arms race.

  11. Patchy says:

    Practice field? You mean something that would directly contribute to the improvement of the football team itself?

    How can we worry about such trifles when we are funding many more acres of concrete outside the concrete stadium?

    Red Square? A mere patio compared to the grandiose Master 20-Year Vision Conceptual Plan, Blueprint & Ordnance Map offered up by The Almost But Not Quite Texas AD (his agent’s number is still in the book, wink wink). Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Hmpf! A carport, nothing more. Hoover Dam? A pathetic little curb.

    We are going to have SURFACE AREA, baby! A plaza here, a terrace there, steps, stairs, ramps. Skateboarders are staying up at night just dreaming about it, even if there’s a chance the new structures will incorporate those nasty metal protuberances. The proposed truck ban in downtown Morgantown will have an exemption for the convoy of Central Supply mixer trucks to and from the stadium.

    But the way forward is clear: green grass and the natural topography will be shown no mercy! Roundup spraying crews will be on 24/7 alert! We’ve got 3-D computer models and they MUST be made a reality so donate generously, please. Law School Hill is SO pastoral 19th century. How does it ‘enhance the game-day experience?’. We can make it Law School Ziggurat (handicapped accessible, of course) – all in that same shade of Tombstone Gray that so dazzles the eye Marketing, people! If you want that passe’ college football atmosphere with bands, cheerleaders, spontaneous fan applause and the odd two seconds of hearing the birds chirp go watch the Shepherd Rams. We’re busy staging the equivalent of an outdoor NBA game here! Clap now, you idiots! Cheer now, you fools! Hey Mountaineer Fans, you bought expensive tickets and parking passes, but we still think you’re a violent, drunken, profane, debris-throwing rabble and will be happy to inform you of our low opinion of you several times per game.

    If these highfalutin college football coaches and players want a practice field separate and distinct from the stadium tell ’em to hitchhike over to Pony Lewis. The budget has already been consumed by, er, progress.

  12. anxiouseer97 says:

    Holgorsen gets us to 10 wins and a nice bowl win, and then I’ll listen to talk about more improvements. Until then, it just sounds like an excuse for why we’re not any good.

  13. The Artist Formerly Known as EER96 says:

    Wow, Patchy, don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel…