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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 11 2010

Bison football: Color red is all that separates Eastern Washington's field from others

CHENEY, Wash. – It’s not red. It’s really, really, really red.

Roos Field and its noted red Sprinturf football field is so red that it practically has its own shade of color.

“Great question,” said Eastern Washington athletic director Bill Chaves. “Eagle red.”

Eagle red really stands out in December when the vast majority of the outside world between Spokane, Wash., and the 15 miles to the small town of Cheney (population 10,036) is black and white – a dose of dark trees and a coating of fresh white snow.

Take a road on the outskirts of Cheney, go around a curve and the field stands out like, well, a sore red thumb.

That’s what will greet North Dakota State when it arrives this morning for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff game against Eastern Washington. The 2:35 p.m. (CST) game is NDSU’s third of this postseason.

The Bison do not practice at opposing stadiums when they travel on Fridays, and this weekend was no different. They flew into Spokane on Friday afternoon and will not see the field until a couple of hours before kickoff.

“The field is the same dimension,” NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said earlier this week. “We play on a green field and they play on a red field. We won’t be wearing green (tops) on green (pants) at North Dakota State, at least as long as I’m at North Dakota State. I don’t make a lot of decisions, but that’s one of them.”

Certainly, there have been critics of the red turf, Chaves said. Bohl isn’t one, saying it doesn’t bother him. But he also questioned why they did it.

“Just the traditionalists,” Chaves said, “and that is they don’t like the non-traditional aspect of the field.”

Chaves said most opposing teams this season practiced Friday at Roos. But he also said the color has no effect on the players, saying it’s just another surface once the game gets going.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 fans are expected in the stadium that has a capacity of 8,600. Students are on winter break, and Chaves said they normally account for between 2,200 and 3,000 fans.

“It will certainly be a challenge,” he said of attendance.

Roos said the brightness of the red was picked from a few samples of fiber that Sprinturf gave the school. If it does fade over time, it won’t be much, he said.

“I think four years from now, you’ll be looking at a red field,” he said.

There’s no disputing that.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia