Too Fancy for Football?

Does changing your look really change your luck? Coaches and universities are always looking for an advantage against their opponents. The newest craze traveling through college football is the uniform race, with styles ranging from brighter and bolder helmets to jerseys, pants and shoes. The University of Oregon and the University of Maryland have set the standard for redesigning a look for every game: chrome helmets and uniforms with the Star Spangled Banner lyrics. Now it is getting out of control because every major program has tweaks to their uniforms. Why do major college football programs roll these out every season? If a major football program needs to acquire extra cash, they turn to a new uniform and colors. This means a whole line of new of shirts and sideline gear to sell to the public.

Most schools just use a combination of black or gray with the traditional university colors and a reimagined logo.

Does this actually gain an advantage when recruiting?

 “I’m a huge fan of alternative uniforms because that will attract recruits more these days,” said Seth Bruton, a Belmont graduate assistant.

That is a solid point, but there is no guarantee those recruits will even get to wear those alternative uniforms even if they decide to play at that school. For all intents and purposes, mentions on social media and news outlets do help spread the word. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t help getting a win on the field.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville unveiled the highly anticipated Smokey Gray jersey last season against Georgia and later against Vanderbilt. They lost both games. Being at both Smokey Gray games, it felt weird watching the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium not clad in Tennessee orange. Looking back, I do not like them. Stick to what works—orange and white. Does this really help win games? No, but at least you’re losing in style.

 “I don’t like. I like the traditional jerseys. I don’t mind wearing ones for special games or what not, but like Oregon and such,” said Tech graduate DK Hall.

Smaller schools like Tennessee Tech need their official athletic provider to give to them a special uniform, because they can’t afford it unless boosters can foot the bill. Major programs get their uniforms for free because they have major multimillion-dollar contracts with Nike, Adidas and Under Amour. Smaller programs also have to purchase items like coaches’ polo shirts and warm up gear for their team, actually hurting smaller programs just for the simple fact that they don’t turn a profit for those companies.

The University of Oregon is known for their outlandish uniforms. Playing in the Pacific-12 Conference, for instance, Oregon needs to capture attention from out of state players from the Southeast. They do so through their uniform combinations, and it works.

However, what helps Oregon more than anything is winning, not uniform combos.

I prefer the traditional look. A jersey the school wears every time they take the field. It gives a team instant recognition. A person doesn’t have to guess which team is playing. A school changing jersey combinations every another time they play is ridiculous; just wear what got you there. Look at a team like Alabama who does not change their crimson-clad jerseys and helmets. They have been winning championships for years and years. Great coaching is what wins in college football, not flashy uniforms. They fade like colors in a washing machine.

It comes down to a business decision and that’s all. It’s another source of income for a school.