Tartan Turf

Called “Doug’s Rug,” for Doug Dickey, then UT’s football coach (later, athletics director), an artificial surface made by the 3-M corporation (All Pro Turf) was installed on the football field in the summer of 1968. The estimated $200,000 project required stripping the field’s sod and topsoil, then constructing a two-and-one-half-inch asphalt shell upon which the Tartan surface was then installed. UT was the first collegiate team to install artificial grass. The first game played on the artificial turf was on September 14, 1968 (Tennessee 17, Georgia 17).

By the end of the 1970 football season, the once-green field had turned black. The 3-M Company indicated that black fibers had been added to give the green a more lush appearance, but the black fibers apparently had expanded to overlap the green nylon. The company replaced the field in the spring of 1970. The Tartan Turf was also replaced in 1975. In 1980 Super Turf was installed, following a court decision in a suit by Monsanto (Makers of AstroTurf) challenging whether Superturf Inc. could install the field, since it did not have a Tennessee contractor’s license. The installation of Super Turf cost $365,000. The Super Turf was replaced in 1986 by All Pro Turf at a cost of approximately $400,000.

Natural grass returned (along with checkerboard end zones) for the 1994 season, following the board of trustees’ June 24, 1994, approval to enter into a contract for turf replacement and drainage of approximately $430,000. The last game played on the artificial turf was on November 27, 1993 (Tennessee 67, Vanderbilt 14). The first game on the new natural grass was against Florida.

As the artificial turf was removed in 1993, fans were given an opportunity to purchase a bit of history. They could purchase a 4-inch by 5-inch turf paperweight ($19.95); an 8-inch by 10-inch framed piece of turf; an 18-inch by 22-inch turf mat resembling the playing field ($69.95); or a 10-inch by 10-inch framed piece of the end zone ($99.95). All items came with a certificate of authenticity, and sales were brisk.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Tartan Turf
  • Author
  • Keywords Tartan Turf
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date April 21, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 18, 2018