By SHAWN COURCHESNE | Courant Staff Writer
September 12, 2007
STORRS - UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway said Tuesday that Northland AEG, the company that manages state-owned Rentschler Field in East Hartford, has brought in a team of experts to help ensure the playing surface is ready for Saturday's game against Temple.
In the home opener last Saturday against Maine, there were numerous brown spots and chunks of turf flew throughout the game. UConn coach Randy Edsall expressed displeasure with the field conditions in a conference call Sunday. Hathaway said he met with stadium officials Monday and Tuesday at Rentschler.
"The bottom line, first and foremost, we want a safe field for all the student athletes are playing on the teams," Hathaway said. "Secondly, we want a field that looks the way it should look in the newest Division I-A football stadium in the country. We have shared our thoughts with the folks at the stadium. They know where we stand on it."
There were crews at the stadium Tuesday resodding sections of the field, some of which sustained additional damage Sunday during a soccer game between Costa Rica and Honduras.
Edsall says he is focused on preparing his team and has left the responsibility of dealing with field issues to Hathaway and Jon Dahlquist, the team's director of football operations.
"As a football coach, all I'm concerned about is that they get the field in the best possible shape that they can so we wouldn't incur any injury," Edsall said Tuesday.
Hathaway joked about the e-mails and messages he has received from amateur agronomists.
"I appreciate all of our fans and supporters who have sent a wide range of advice and have reminded us we need to water the field," Hathaway said. "Let me reassure you, rain or no rain, that field is well irrigated. If it was simply turning on the faucet, I would have been willing to go down there. This is not a matter of water. I've had a number of people e-mail me about grub applications. This is not grubs. This is not irrigation problems. We have something in there that got into the root system to some degree and I'm not going to get too deep into that because this isn't what I do for a living."
An individual who would not give his name answered the phone Tuesday at Championship Turf of Harwinton, which has maintained the field since the facility opened in 2003. He said the company would not comment on the problems and said all questions concerning the issue should be directed through Northland AEG. Marty Brooks, who manages the stadium for Northland AEG, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Hathaway said team and stadium officials will assess the game Saturday. The third of seven home games is Sept. 29 against Akron.
"We have the stadium people working with turf farms to have us prepared in case after Saturday's game we feel it needs to be resodded in its entirety," Hathaway said. "We'll make that decision after looking at it Sunday and Monday. If it needs to be resodded, [the Office of Policy and Management] is prepared to resod it.
"At the appropriate time, we'll go back and look at what was done to this field over the past three weeks to put us in the situation we found ourselves in on Saturday."
Edsall on Sunday brought up the option of installing the synthetic FieldTurf, but Hathaway didn't want to talk about going that far.
"I think FieldTurf could always be an option," Hathaway said. "It could have been an option when we put in the natural grass. I think we've had great success with the natural grass in the first four years that we played there. Obviously, the state would have some say in whether we put FieldTurf in or stay with natural grass. I'm not sure that the FieldTurf discussion today is the one that we need to have. What we need to do is get this field back in the best shape possible."
Lansanah Nursing Ankle
Senior middle linebacker Danny Lansanah, who left the 38-0 victory over Maine late in the third quarter with a right ankle injury, said he expects to play this week.
"Just walking on it now, it's strong. It doesn't bother me that much. It just bothers me when I wake up in the morning," Lansanah said. "I feel like if I just sit out another day or so and get it stronger and keep rehabbing it, I should be fine.
"I want to play. I want to be out there. I'm the quarterback of the defense, the leader of the defense. Me being out, I think the defense would take a big hit because I take a lot of pride in [what I do] and the other guys look up to me. I feel like I've got to be out there regardless."
Contact Shawn Courchesne email@example.com