8/29/2014 2:00 AM
Eastern Michigan hopes gray turf brings success

By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER


YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — The green artificial turf at Rynearson Stadium didn't do Eastern Michigan's football team any favors over the past decade, so the team hopes a switch to gray might give it a fresh outlook.

If it looks like a factory floor, that's by design.

"Hey, a factory's a place where you go to work, you know? It's blue-collar, and you get better. Things are built there," the team's new coach, Chris Creighton, said after a recent preseason practice at the Ypsilanti stadium, which the school has dubbed "The Factory."

The switch to gray FieldTurf is part of Creighton's broader efforts to change the culture of the team, which won two or fewer games in four of the past five seasons.

Creighton led Drake to a 44-22 record in six seasons before taking over the Eagles from Ron English. English's teams won 11 games during his five years as coach, and he was fired, in part, for using inappropriate language during a film session.

Eastern Michigan plans to pay for the new field with some of the more than $1 million it expects to receive for playing games at Florida and Michigan State this season.

Creighton said he doesn't know if the new-look turf is "going to help us with our special teams and turnovers, blocking and tackling. But it's ours. And we love it."

So do the players, who are excited by their team's standing as one of only two in the Football Bowl Subdivision — the other is Boise State — with playing surfaces in their stadiums that are not a shade of the traditional green.

"Having gray turf, that's something that no else in the nation has. It's unique, and it's something that puts us on people's minds," said Lincoln Hansen, a redshirt senior offensive lineman.

The first game of the Creighton (and gray turf) era will be Saturday against Morgan State.

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Follow Mike Householder on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mikehouseholder



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(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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