When the Bears open the season Thursday night at First Security Field at Estes Stadium, the focus for awhile will be on surface matters.
Installed this spring and summer was purple-and-gray striped artificial surface that has been cussed, discussed and cause raised eyebrows, laughter, head shakes, hand slaps and looks of pride.
But it likely attract attention on sports casts throughout the country when the Bears open the field Thursday night.
UCA has adopted the motto, "Fear The Stripes," for this season.
"It’s the most unique field in college football," UCA coach Clint Conque said. "No one has one that is striped with their school colors."
The coach has embraced the attention.
When the colors of the field were announced as a non-April Fools joke on April Fools Day, it was the No. 1 story on Yahoo Sports for several hours.
"I know it’s controversial and people have different opinions," Conque said. "But it’s also amazing the buzz it has created. We’ve been on ESPN several times. Brad Teague (UCA athletic director) has done interviews and been on talk shows all over the country. You can’t buy that type of attention at our level. Sometimes, we have had trouble with our identity on our level of football. When we tell folks we are playing on the striped field, it has given us instant recognition with high school coaches and players throughout the state and the region."
He realizes eventually the focus will turn to the team on the field.
"We’ve always had good football at UCA, long before I came," said the 12th-year coach. "We always intend to put a good team on the field. In addition to a good football team and FCS program, this gives something tangible for our fans to unite behind and identify with.
"It’s the most eye-popping field in college football. I think it will help us in recruiting and be a source of pride in the community."
UCA linebacker Frank Newsome noticed a more tangible aspect of the turf during preseason camp.
"It’s hot," he said. "It’s amazing the difference when you walk out on the field from grass. A lot of heat hits you. It’s a big change from playing on grass. But it’s nice. It’s even nice to watch on film.
"I think it adds to the team chemistry. This is our field and we’re the first team to play on it. It’s like going out there with a clean slate."