A New Look is the New Norm: Part I
By Andrew Lind
(Editor's Note: Andrew Lind is a guest contributor to The-Ozone who came to us with a passion for college football and an idea for this piece on the changing uniforms around the country. He is currently a student at The Ohio State University, where he works as a sports reporter for BuckeyeTV. An aspiring journalist, Andrew was the editor of his high school newspaper in Gibsonburg, Ohio and has also worked as the Director of Baseball Operations with Block "O.")
For the longest time, college football was dominated by a select few.
These traditional powers—schools like Ohio State, Alabama, Nebraska, Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Notre Dame—seemed to win the national championship every year. Their traditions, enormous stadiums and legendary head coaches spoke for themselves.
Today, well, not much has changed for these schools. They still have little or no problem recruiting the best athletes in the country, but most schools do not share similar accolades the traditional powers are able to showcase to recruits.
Not long ago, University of Oregon was hardly a destination for top recruits in the Pacific Northwest—let alone the rest of the country. That all changed when Nike co-founder Phil Knight and Air Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield—both Oregon alums—teamed up to create a new look for the Ducks.
That was back in 1999. Since then, the Ducks have created thousands of unique looks. While they may not be in the traditional green and gold they wore for the majority of the 20th century, few can mistake the brand the University of Oregon has created for its athletic teams.
While a purist would call this concept a “gimmick,” it’s clear uniforms being worn today are becoming an integral part of college football. Love it or hate it, it’s hard to argue with the success Oregon has had—both on the field and with recruits—since they introduced their wide array of uniform combinations.
Once mistaken as just a fad, the idea of multiple helmets and jerseys has taken college football by storm. Even many traditional powerhouse schools—including Ohio State--have worn a special jersey or will be wearing one this upcoming season.
Schools like USC and Penn State, which refuse to budge on their traditional dress, are now the minority, not the norm in college football.
With 124 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), it can be difficult to keep track of all the changes going on across the country. Why wait until the first Saturday of the season to notice all the different new looks in college football?
To help sort through the madness, we’ve compiled a conference-by-conference rundown of all the new looks fans can expect for the 2012 season—and beyond.
Maryland "State Pride" jersey
Maryland: Known as ‘The Oregon of the East,’ the Terrapins surprised everyone in their first game of the season by displaying “State Pride” jerseys instead of their new Under Armour outfit. In an effort to gain more publicity, the school was exploring the options of having a black field. It was even tested in the stadium, but the idea was eventually scrapped in favor of green turf.
North Carolina white helmet
North Carolina: New Head Coach Larry Fedora experimented with many different helmets at Southern Miss, so rumors of a white helmet at UNC should not come as a surprise. However, rumors for black, white and pewter helmets were talked about last year, when Everett Withers was serving as interim head coach.
Virginia Tech camo helmet
Virginia Tech: The Hokies will wear a camouflage helmet against Bowling Green for Military Appreciation Day.
Rutgers chrome helmet
Rutgers: Once a doormat to others, the Scarlet Knights are now one of the most recognizable teams in college football. With three different chrome helmets that look like they went into battle, as well as pants with stripes made to look like swords, the Rutgers players are starting to truly look like knights.
Syracuse: HGI, the company who created helmets such as Oregon’s Rose Bowl helmet and TCU’s frog skin helmets created a chrome helmet for the Orange. There are no plans to use the helmet at this point, but it is a concept to keep an eye on.
Illinois Matte Blue Helmet
Illinois: Under new head coach and former Ohio State assistant Tim Beckman, the Illini were a likely candidate to receive a rebrand in the offseason. Unfortunately, they are only adding the options of a matte blue and white helmet, with the compete rebrand coming in 2013. Rumor has it, the jerseys will feature a zigzag pattern, formerly seen on the jerseys of the Illini basketball team..
Iowa Throwback Uniform
Iowa: One of the few teams to have a throwback jersey for an alternate, the Hawkeyes will be honoring the 1921 and 1922 Big Ten Championship teams against in-state rival Iowa State.
Minnesota: Another team to receive a complete rebrand, Minnesota chose the route of a timeless look. The most prominent element of the jerseys are the newly created font-based on the jerseys worn during the glory days of Golden Gopher football, which feature a sublimated brick pattern used on their new stadium.
Nebraska: Known for years as the Blackshirts, the Cornhusker defense will not be the only players on the team wearing black shirts this year. In a similar capacity to last year’s ‘Under the Lights’ game, Adidas will create special black jerseys for Nebraska to wear in a night game against Wisconsin or Michigan.
Northwestern: Although Under Armour is known for creating outlandish uniforms, the Wildcats will continue to have a classic look, but with a modern touch. The famous Northwestern stripes will stay, but Under Armour has hinted at sublimated ivy adorning the numbers—perfect for ‘Chicago's Big Ten team.’
Ohio State Chrome, Diamond Plated Helmet
Ohio State: When the Pro Combat System of Dress was first introduced, the Buckeyes signed a four-year deal to receive the latest in Nike technology. Although there are no details yet, photos of a chrome, diamond plated helmet have surfaced.
Purdue: The Boilermakers updated their look last season when they changed to the Nike Speed Machine template, but they will be slightly different this season. Although most won’t be able to recognize the change, Purdue designed a new train logo, which can be seen on the collar of the jersey.
*Note: All Big 10 teams will be wearing a B1G patch this season.
Notre Dame Irish Flag Cleats
Notre Dame: Though Notre Dame may not have the same mystique it used to, the ability to play in Dublin, Ireland is a unique opportunity for the Fighting Irish. To mark such a commemorative event, the Irish will wear cleats resembling the Irish flag.
*In Part II of our feature on the changing look of college football, Andrew Lind will run down expected—or potential—changes in the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, and even the MAC. Stay tuned.
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