Before the Frogs, David Yarbrough dominates the field

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    Want to paint the football field before a home game? If you have 17 five-gallon buckets of white paint and seven five-gallon buckets of purple paint, go for it.

    This season, the football team is looking good, but the only thing looking better is the field.

    Horticultural Supervisor David Yarbrough oversees the maintenance of the field and said he relishes every part of it.

    “Having the players and coaches thank you for the work you do is the rewarding part of the job,” Yarbrough said.

    Yarbrough took over as supervisor in 1993 when the university got rid of artificial turf for a sand-based playing surface. There is no soil on TCU’s football field.

    Yarbrough said it is a sand called Kaylor White sand, which holds about 1 percent organic material allowing the 419 hybrid Bermuda grass to grow.

    “The Texas Rangers field is the same way, Texas A&M’s is the same way, [the University of Texas at Austin] is the same way,” Yarbrough said. “The field is built to USGA (United States Golf Association) standards.”

    The grass is grown on top of 12 to 14 inches of the sand, which is on top of four to six inches of gravel, which is on top of a four-inch to four-foot drainage pipe. The water will drain into the creek that runs by Worth Hills.

    The sand can hold a custom blended fertilizer that meets the field’s need better than normal soil would, Yarbrough said. The material that may look like black soil on the field on game day is actually an organic material combined with dead grass.

    As far as painting the football field, Yarbrough will head a nine-person crew onto the field two days before kickoff at roughly 7 a.m. to paint the field white. The day before kickoff, Yarbrough will lead the same crew on the field again at 7 a.m. to paint the field purple. All times and days depend on weather.

    The paint he uses is a specialized athletic-marking paint for grass from a company in Mississippi, Yarbrough said.

    In addition to painting yard markers and playing boundaries, Yarbrough has to deal with painting the end zone, as well as the Mountain West logos on both 25 yard-lines and the TCU logo at midfield.

    Yarbrough said TCU is not allowed to paint any corporate logos on the field at any point during the season, except for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, which the university hosts. He said he doesn’t think there are any penalties if they did paint one, but he isn’t trying anytime soon. This year, there is plenty of time between the end of the season and the bowl game, he said.

    “Fortunate for us, this year we have got from Nov. 22 to prepare,” Yarbrough said.

    A clear schedule between the Frogs’ last game against Air Force on Nov. 22 and the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31 allows Yarbrough and his staff to mow the grass sooner. That way, any TCU or Mountain West logos can be easily painted over with corporate sponsors, and end zones can be painted to the two-invited schools’ specifications Yarbrough said.

    According to CBS’ sports Web site, analysts project BYU would take on Rice in the bowl if the season ended today.

    Senior linebacker Robert Henson said it’s one of his favorite fields to play on.

    “I like it; I love it,” Henson said. “I love every bit of it.”

    Sophomore quarterback Andy Dalton also said that it was one of the nicest fields he has played on. Henson and Dalton also agreed on the worst playing surface.

    “BYU is the worst because they grow their grass so long,” Henson said. “They water it down before the game and try to slow us down. Obviously I have played in those games and I can attest to that.”

    After the bowl game ends, the TCU field will go under a warming blanket made of a breathable finely woven plastic that makes the ground six to 10 degrees warmer.

    “We might even do it before our next game if it’s going to be extremely cold,” Yarbrough said. “It keeps the field from having frost on it.”

    Even when the football field is not in use, Yarbrough also oversees all other sporting fields on campus. He said it has been especially difficult to paint the football field this season because he and his staff have had to paint the soccer field at the same time.