Buckeyes fans uniformly disdain jersey changes

Updated: April 12, 2006, 4:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ohio State football fans are seeing red this week, thanks to a slight change in the school's football uniforms.

Uni Watch Analysis
If your official school colors are scarlet and gray, shouldn't those colors be on your uniform?

The folks at Ohio State apparently didn't get that memo, at least judging by their new jersey. Like, if they want to change the width or spacing of the sleeve stripes, that's fine, but why get rid of the gray? Yes, the jerseys were gray-less for a while back in the 1950s, but so what? Those jerseys were also made out of cotton, didn't have the players' names on the back, and didn't have the OSU logo on the collar, and you don't hear anyone talking about going back to those design features.

The rest of the changes, though, aren't so bad. Moving the auxiliary uni numbers from the shoulders to the sleeves is a welcome move, if only because it reinforces the fact that the jersey actually has sleeves -- a near-revolutionary concept in an era when most football players just wear a gaping armhole and a scrap of fabric strrrretched over their shoulder pads.

Besides, the real story here is that OSU dodged a bullet: The school is outfitted by Nike, which is slowly imposing its wraparound bib design on more and more teams -- including OSU's archrival, Michigan. So relax, Buckeye fans -- it could've been a lot worse.

-- Paul Lukas | Uni Watch Archive
(Photo courtesy: Ohio State University)

The school introduced a new uniform that features slightly different stripes on the sleeves and changes the pattern (to scarlet-white-black from scarlet-white-black-gray). The sleeve is also slightly longer.

Reaction has been swift and strong, according to Wednesday's Columbus Dispatch, which said that it received 734 votes in a poll on its Web site, topping the prevous record of 433 for a question on same-sex marriage (and more than the usual 100-200 responses).

The newspaper said 79 percent of fans responding were against the new uniform.

"I can't believe this is happening. I can't even concentrate on typing this message because I'm so angry," one fan wrote into the newspaper. Another compared the change to "New Coke."

Ohio State noted that it isn't the first time the uniform had changed. Woody Hayes won three national titles (1954, '57 and '68) with three different uniforms. Ohio State wore uniforms without gray on them for 10 seasons in the mid-'50s.

Former coaches Earle Bruce and John Cooper also changed uniform styles slightly, both told the Dispatch. There was little outcry.

"I don't know that jerseys ever lost a football game," Bruce told the Dispatch.

Head coach Jim Tressel was surprised at the reaction.

"If you put three jerseys up over the last 10 years, I'm not sure which one we're going out there in," Tressel told the Dispatch. "Probably in the last 20 years, we've had four or five different stripings and pipings and all that kind of thing."

Ohio State's uniform pants were slightly shinier last season, thanks to a new fabric.

Ohio State's uniforms are made by Nike, causing some fans to accuse the school of changing to sell more uniforms. Ohio State has a six-year, $11.4 million deal with Nike. School officials said no, and that Nike didn't push for the change.

"In our case, we're going to sell jerseys regardless," athletics department spokesman Steve Snapp told the Dispatch. "We don't have to change our jersey to increase sales."