Special to Page 2
In the immortal words of Principal McGee, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter." That's Uni Watch's back-to-school rallying cry as another college football season is upon us.
Not that the NCAA is so easy to support these days -- at least not in terms of athletic aesthetics. Many of the schools now take their marching orders from the big sportswear manufacturers (often with disastrous results), when it should be the other way around. And even teams that have maintained relatively old-school designs still face the depressing spectacle of wearing corporate logos on their chests, an ongoing disgrace that makes it hard for Uni Watch to take the college game seriously.
Such soapboxing notwithstanding, there's plenty of new stuff to watch for this season in Division I-A. The following rundown makes no claim of being comprehensive -- a few schools no doubt flew beneath Uni Watch's radar -- but it should be enough to keep everyone busy for now (with a big shout-out to the folks at Chris Creamer's logo and uni forum, who caught a few things Uni Watch had missed):
• BYU is going back to a traditional look. This will be the team's fourth design since 1999, which means its uniforms have been anything but uniform. But according to head coach Bronco Mendenhall, "This isn't about BYU having new uniforms. This is about honoring tradition." Oh really? If that's truly what Mendenhall wants, let's have the team go back to wearing this. (Are those lower-sleeve stripes cool or what?). Still, Uni Watch generally approves of the move -- an easy enough call, given what BYU was wearing last year.
• Speaking of tradition, Texas will wear a throwback design for its season opener, complete with uni numbers on the helmets, just like in the old days. And Wisconsin will celebrate its stadium renovation by wearing 1960s throwbacks, including the school's classic helmet (so much better than its current one) and -- get this -- lower-sock insignia, which looks so totally cool that for once, Uni Watch will stop complaining about logo creep.
• It's a mixed bag over at Syracuse, which is going from this and this to this. Uni Watch likes the switch from white shoes to black, the uni numbers on the helmets, and the sharp-looking white pants. But man, that shoulder striping is a nightmare (although it does have the salutary effect of being so clunky that there's no room for player surnames, which have now been eliminated). Plus the gray face masks look blah, the old white numbers looked better on the navy jerseys than the new orange numbers do, and Uni Watch already misses the old pants piping. A classic case of something that wasn't broke, but they fixed it anyway. (To put all this in historical perspective, a great PDF file showing SU's extended uni history is available for download here.)
• With Kansas' now being outfitted by adidas, its unis have gone from this to this. Uni Watch likes both the old and new looks, so call it a wash. But of course the real question is how adidas will approach the rather, uh, challenging physique of head coach Mark Mangino.