If you know me or have read my past columns, you know I’m not the biggest fan of college football. One thing I could tolerate in the college football world, however, was the art of the jersey. One thing I always knew as an athlete was that if you felt that you looked good, you would play a lot better. At least, that’s what I told my co-ed recreational flag football teammates back in my early middle school days. But it’s true.
Obviously being the best team at the end of the season is what every player wants, but looking cooler than the guy they’re covering on ESPN HD in front of millions of people is also a plus. For a while, I loved it. Anyone who watched college football, including my friends and I would always bring up the jerseys the players were wearing. And if there was one team that was the king of jerseys, it was the Oregon Ducks. Oregon teamed up with Nike in 1996, but it was the number of never before seen jersey combinations in the 2000’s that put them on the map.
I was no expert at college football, but I tried to follow what I could. With Oregon being out on the west coast playing the late Saturday night games, the Ducks weren’t quite as big on my radar as the Big Ten, Big East and SEC teams were. But when they came out with new jerseys, they caught my attention. Then, by the mid 2000’s the Ducks had combinations that were fresher then something coming out of a Ziploc bag. They were bright. They were dark. All whites. All blacks. Diamonds on the sleeves. The Oregon website actually said for the jerseys that Oregon had from 2006-2008, there were 384 combinations between helmets, tops, bottoms, socks and shoes. When they had an electric offense that would score 50+ a game, they were the team to watch. A national championship run in 2009 added to the hype, and it even got to the point where it was just as exciting to see what jerseys they were going to wear as the game itself.
Of course, with a great concept like Oregon’s other schools followed. Helmet colors changed, jersey and pants combos grew, and even school logos were put on players’ gloves so they could be held up to the cameras after a touchdown. I understand the excitement around a new jersey, and really up until this season really didn’t have a problem with it. But now every school is doing it. And now I’m getting sick of it.
I can see why players and even students get excited for a white out against a rival or a black out for national television. If it happened once or twice a year then I’d be fine with it. But I used to get really excited for teams announcing they would be coming out with new jerseys. Now it’s to the point where I’ve had to occasionally look at the ESPN ticker to see which two teams are even playing. I get bored with it. I mean what happened to originality? To school spirit and to history?
Take Ohio State’s recent alternate helmets. White lids with the players’ numbers on the sides, instead of the traditional Buckeye leaf stickers on the silver helmet. I hate Ohio State. But if I want to see them lose I want to see them do it in their traditional jerseys, ones that have dated back to the late 60’s.
I understand the appeal of getting deals with big time companies, like Nike and Under Armor. But enough already! Just stay consistent. Players should be proud of their team colors and school logo. I give credit to schools like Alabama and Penn State who have stayed true to their history and tried not to fix something that’s not broken.
Most of Oregon’s jerseys have been pretty cool, but not all of them have been perfect. But let them do their thing. To a point, that’s become their history. Their tradition. It’s been the Ducks’ thing. When a person thinks of new exciting college jerseys, how does Oregon not come up in the conversation? For these other schools, I wish the jersey combos would be kept to a minimum. One or two at most, maybe for those big rivalry games on national television. After that, players should just wear the jerseys the great players before them wore, when they didn’t have any other options. Remember, sometimes less is more.