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Overtime: On College Football Uniforms

The Oregon Ducks are the biggest uniform flip-flopper in college football. (Photo by Don Ryan/AP Images)

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The Oregon Ducks are the biggest uniform flip-flopper in college football. (Photo by Don Ryan/AP Images)


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By MATT ROSENFELD

SPORTS EDITOR

The Oregon Ducks are the biggest uniform flip-flopper in college football. (Photo by Don Ryan/AP Images)

The Oregon Ducks are the biggest uniform flip-flopper in college football. (Photo by Don Ryan/AP Images)

It’s gotten out of control. It’s got to be stopped. I’m sick of it.

I’m talking, of course, about the trend of constantly changing uniforms that has taken college football by storm.

In case you’re not in the know, team after team around the NCAA is wearing flashier and more confusing uniforms every week. Turn on a few college football games this Saturday, and you’ll be sure to see a rainbow-like mix of colors. You’d be hard-pressed to know what a team’s true school colors are by watching its football team play in a game.

The University of Oregon and Phil Knight are the ones to blame. Sometime in the mid-2000s, Phil Knight, the co-founder and chairman of Nike and alumnus of Oregon, decided he was going to revamp Oregon’s brand. Since then, the Ducks have been wearing new uniforms and color combinations every week, provided to them by Mr. Knight and his athletic wear company.

I’m not going to lie, at first it was cool. It was something that had never been done. Everybody wore traditional home and away jerseys, with the occasional alternate every now and then, so the change was unique. Here was this up-and-coming team in the Northwest, making a name for itself on the field and with its uniforms.

Now it’s just out of control. Just two weeks ago, they wore pink helmets with black uniforms and pants and pink socks. Yes, it was for breast cancer awareness, but every other team managed to honor the month and raise awareness with a little pink sprinkled into their regular uniforms. Oregon, like always, had to go over the top.

Because of what Oregon has done, uniforms have become somewhat of an arms race. Young recruits love new and shiny uniforms. Now, every other team in the country wants to be able to show off cool new “unis” to its recruits, so as not to fall behind Oregon or any other team that is putting out a flashy new jersey.

My question is: Whatever happened to wearing traditional school uniforms?

The biggest argument offered in favor of the new uniform trend is that it impresses recruits. My answer to that is simple: ask Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio State. Those schools finished first, fifth, sixth and 10th respectively in the 2013 recruiting rankings, according to ESPN. And, they stick to the basics with their uniforms. You’d surely never see Alabama messing with its beautiful crimson and white.

Let me be clear, there’s nothing wrong with new and exciting uniforms for teams. It’s a way to bring some energy to a program.  My problem comes when it gets to be outside of school colors and tradition. Every team nowadays thinks black is a crucial part of its color scheme. Let me give them a hint — it’s not. Copious amounts of teams have gone “black for black’s sake,” a term used by UniWatch blog to denote a team wearing black for simply no reason at all. It’s silly and takes away from a team’s classic home and away uniforms.

Think about the iconic uniforms in history. Not even in college, just sports in general. The New York Yankees, the Green Bay Packers, Penn State football and the Montreal Canadiens all have something in common. They have more or less worn the same uniform throughout their histories. There is history in those jerseys. There is a reason that people of all walks of life can recognize those uniforms, regardless of their fandom. Sure, Oregon’s pink helmets, Tennessee’s “smoky grey” jerseys and Missouri’s chrome facemasks are cool the week they’re worn, but nobody will ever remember those uniforms the way the iconic ones are remembered.

You bet that Oregon’s uniforms are exciting to see every week, but they’re no longer considered unique. New uniforms, random colors and going “black for black’s sake” have become the norm around college football. Name a team and I guarantee they’ve worn a terrible alternate jersey in the last two years.

Staying with traditional home and away jerseys, that’s being different in 2013. And I love every team that is choosing to be different.

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One Response to “Overtime: On College Football Uniforms”

  1. In Russia, Only Blackout is From Too Much Vodka | People's Union of American College Football on November 9th, 2013 11:06 am

    […] Stop Constantly Changing College Football Uniforms – OVERTIME […]

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Overtime: On College Football Uniforms