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Notre Dame to install artificial turf, lose tall-grass defense tactic

Notre Dame Fighting IrishPittsburgh PanthersUSC TrojansSteve Sarkisian

Notre Dame has become the latest university to install FieldTurf in its football stadium. The artificial grass is expected to be installed in time for the Aug. 31 season opener against Rice.

It closes an era where landscaping was part of the Notre Dame game plan.

In 1976, legend has it, Notre Dame let the grass grow for its season-opener against Pittsburgh, then led by Tony Dorsett. Dorsett had gained 303 yards against the Fighting Irish the previous season.

Former Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian, who did television commentary for that game, even called it the “Dorsett cut.”

Dorsett, in a 2008 interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, said, “You could drop a golf ball in the grass and couldn’t see it. It was that high. The field was wet, and it hadn’t rained.”

Not that it helped.

Dorsett gained 180 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown run, in a 31-10 victory. The Panthers went on to win the national title. Dorsett won the Heisman Trophy.

USC players believed they received similar treatment from Notre Dame in an effort to slow down Reggie Bush in 2005.

Trojans Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, then a USC assistant, said at the time, “You knew it was long, and you knew it was long intentionally. It wasn’t like the guy forgot to mow the lawn that day.”

Those days are gone now -- unless Notre Dame has a backup turf with really long plastic grass blades that are dipped in Super Glue.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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