We spend a lot of time covering and rating the uniforms teams wear in college football. But the other part of football aesthetics that often goes uncovered is the playing surface itself. On its face, every football field is the same. The team’s name spreads across the end zone, and a logo goes at midfield. But that’s like saying every uniform is the same because they all have a helmet, jersey and pants. It’s the nuance that matters and, naturally, it’s our job to judge it.
1. LSU – From the eye of the tiger at midfield, the alternating colors in the end zone, the yard markers every five and the throwback goal posts, this is the Fenway Park of college football fields.
2. East Carolina – The Pirates’ pitch drew heaps of praise last Thursday during their national TV win over Florida Atlantic, and rightfully so. You won’t find a bolder midfield logo than that pirate staring into your soul from inside the North Carolina silhouette – and when you’re at East Carolina, you need to be bold.
3. Tennessee – Without a doubt the most recognizable end zone pattern in college football, and I’m not even sure there’s a close second.
4. North Carolina – The Tar Heels rocket up the rankings thanks to the newly-installed argyle end zone pattern.
5. Notre Dame – Like everything else about Notre Dame football, the field design at Notre Dame Stadium has to be unique. It’s definitely the “Seinfeld” of college football fields. “Everyone else is doing something. We’ll do nothing!”
6. Wyoming – Like the Tar Heels, Wyoming’s recent changes pushed them into the national consciousness. Also, it’s never a bad thing when you can paint an intimdation factor into your field, as the Cowboys do by reminding everyone they’re playing a mile and a half above sea level.
7. Nebraska – The alternating shades of green in Memorial Stadium’s field turf is just enough of a classic touch to allow the Huskers to stand apart from the pack.
I’m going to cheat a little bit here and include both Clemson and Georgia in the No. 8 spot. Like Nebraska, both schools master the art of tweaking the ordinary by working in a small touch to make it their own. With Clemson, it’s the way the tiger paw stands in for the ‘o’. At Georgia, it’s how they use the “G” logo at the goal line. I’ll give the Tigers the slight edge on account of this.
9. Maryland – Let’s be honest. Maryland’s pride theme does not work at all on a uniform, but it looks pretty darn good on a field.
10. Boise State – As with Oregon’s uniforms, don’t blame them for their army of followers. It’s not Boise State’s fault no one can pull off the colored field as well as they do.