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Saturday, October 25, 2014         

FERD'S WORDS


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Oregon State goes blue for practice

By Ferd Lewis

POSTED:


You could say the Oregon State football team's preparation for its nationally televised showdown with Boise State on Saturday comes right out of the blue.

Not content to merely simulate the unbeaten Broncos' nationally ranked offense, defense and special teams in practice this week, leave it to the Beavers also to attempt to replicate Boise State's trademark blue turf with what, you suspect, is a tongue-in-cheek jab at its growing legend.

In a spectacle that has proved of considerably more curiosity than watching paint dry, the college football world -- the University of Hawaii among it -- is taking notice of the Beavers' application of more than 400 gallons of a special outdoor blue paint to one of their grass practice fields in the Tommy Prothro Athletic Complex yesterday in Corvallis.

The faux Boise scene will be complete when, officials say, the Beavers outfit their scout team in blue uniforms for the practices that begin today.

It is a novel and light-hearted approach to playing the third-ranked Broncos. But, then, the tried and true hasn't produced much in the way of victory on what Boise State fans have come to reverently call "The Blue." Orthodox and by-the-book have not kept the Broncos from running roughshod over their opposition and into Bowl Championship Series lore.

The Bronco Stadium field is a place the faithful view as imbued with special, if not mystical, powers. It is a place of pilgrimage where college fans from across the country stop to gaze upon one of the curiosities of sports and Boise fans sign up to take family pictures and hold weddings.

Not that the Broncos' lengthening cast of victims -- UH, at 0-4, prominently among them -- has been in much position to dispel the exalted status the field has been accorded.

Not with Boise State on a 44-game blue-turf win streak -- and 56 straight dating back to 1999 counting only regular-season games.

Boise State officials over the years haven't been above attempting to hype their way to a legend of smurf turf invulnerability. Athletic director Gene Bleymaier, whose brainstorm it was to brand the tidy bowl turf to Boise State in 1986, likes to say the all-blue field coupled with the Broncos' blue uniforms "makes it harder for visiting teams to play. It disorients them. It makes it hard for them to run without falling down."

Then, there is the tale of waterfowl crashing, head-first, to their deaths on turf, having mistaken it for the nearby Boise River. "I'll neither confirm nor deny," Bleymaier has made a point of saying.

Urban legend has frustrated quarterbacks leaving the field muttering to themselves about being unable to distinguish stealth foe from field turf.

What is real is that so dominant have the Broncos been at home that College of New Haven and several high schools have subsequently also gone blue, perhaps the sincerest form of flattery.

The Beavers, who fell victim to the Broncos in 2006, are going outside the box this time by the design of athletic director, Bob DeCarolis, who has been planning for months and rounded up a donor to cover the cost of the paint.

"If we win, think of what this will do for paint sales," said Steve Fenk, OSU assistant athletic director.

Should the Beavers prevail, expect UH to jump to be near the front of the paint-by-numbers line. The Warriors, who are scheduled to make their final Western Athletic Conference appearance in Boise on Nov. 6, have been more frustrated than most, being outscored there by an average of 49-19.

Then, if only somebody could find a way to paint a way for the Warriors to win at altitude, two of UH's biggest problems would be solved.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com.






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