Column: New era, new uniforms
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 01:09
There are some things about college football that I will always be able to identify with. The plain blue and white of Penn State, the golden domes of Notre Dame and the cardinal and yellow uniforms of USC are staples of the sport that have been around for decades. These uniforms have become part of the culture of these programs and have been able to transcend the eras of the game from the “three yards and a cloud of dust” offensive years to the new spread, high powered offense days of football. Even the mere thought of putting names on the back of Penn State’s solid blue uniforms caused uproar in the community, as some people thought that it would tarnish the tradition built by the players who had come before.
Today, teams are churning out new uniforms that test the limits of my television definition and my stomach nausea. The age of simplicity and tradition has passed as teams are now using their uniforms as a recruitment tool rather than to honor tradition. Schools are now looking to catch the sight of top recruits with flashy uniforms as recruiting becomes more competitive. Schools such as Rutgers and Boise State have adopted new uniforms. Even some of the most traditional programs have become more lenient in their use of new uniforms. Florida, Georgia and Ohio State have allowed Nike to alter their jersey for single games, but who's to say that the trend won’t continue towards permanent change?
Of course, you can’t argue with results. Oregon has gone from obscurity to National Championship runner up in a little over a decade. The Oregon Ducks began their jersey journey in 1996 when they changed their uniforms for the first time. Before 1996, they had only won 1 conference championship since 1957. Since 1996, they have won the Pacific Conference championship outright 6 different times and have been to 4 BCS bowls, most recently beating Wisconsin in the 2012 Rose Bowl and losing to the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship in 2011. The Ducks new uniforms have a direct correlation with their success. The school has gained immense notoriety and press for their interesting uniforms over the years. In 2006 it was reported that the Oregon Ducks had 384 different uniform sets that they could wear at any time. The Ducks haven’t worn the same uniform in two games since then. They're also always top-25 in recruiting.
So with the recent success of the Oregon Ducks, I believe that we will see more teams throw traditional uniforms to the wind and seek flashier, attention-grabbing color schemes in order to attract more attention and recruits. Texas A&M and Missouri entered into the tough SEC conference this year. It’s no coincidence that both schools unveiled new uniforms for this season as both schools are looking to get an advantage in recruiting as well as open up a new era in their program. The changes for other programs aren’t always well received however, as many Rutgers fans were unable to read their favorite teams numbers due to the uniforms reflective properties. Even so, more and more schools are trying to see if the Oregon Duck system can work for them as the state of college football continues to change.