OU officials received a ton of negative feedback concerning the special uniform the Sooners will wear Saturday against Texas. OU officials even have been told to expect a I-35 billboard, somewhere between Norman and Dallas, proclaiming: “RESTORE THE UNIFORMS.”
Of course, that’s a bit of overkill. Restore? It’s not like the Sooners are wearing purple and green. They are not going Oregon and OSU. People in Rhode Island and Idaho, flipping channels Saturday morning, will come across the game and immediately know, Oklahoma-Texas. It’s the same old uniform with the addition of gold accents — the numbers are trimmed in gold and above the numbers are logos of OU in gold, Nike in gold and the Golden Hat, symbolic of the OU-Texas series. Texas has a similar pattern for its game uniform.
The other additions are subtle. From the press release: Custom embroidery of “Boomer Sooner” for OU and “Longhorns” for Texas can be found on the inside of the jersey necklines. OU’s jersey also features an additional gold logo neck patch in reference to last year’s victory as the Sooners retained the Golden Hat Trophy. Custom tags reading “Texas Longhorns Red River Rivalry” and “Oklahoma Sooners Red River Rivalry” give each school a commemorative take on the traditional sizing label. “The heritage of the AT&T Red River Rivalry extends to the Nike Pro Hypercool Baselayer Top where a directional chevron pattern signals the travel direction each team takes to Dallas. In an additional twist, the chevron mirrors the hand gestures of the fans – Texas’ upward ‘hook ‘em horns’ is one of the true icons of college athletics. The chevron is also featured on the insole of the Nike Alpha Pro Cleats each team will wear. School mascot imagery appears on the cleat tongues, and both school cleats showcase metallic gold plates to tie in the overall aesthetic of the uniform.”
Truthfully, watching from the stands, you’ll barely notice a difference. Watching on TV, you’ll notice a difference only on closeups. Do I wish schools wouldn’t jack with their uniforms? Sure, if they’ve got a traditional look. But some things are virtually beyond schools’ control.
* The market. Nike wants new uniforms at every school so it can sell more gear. I’m told the new OU jerseys sell for $140. No one is itching to go out and buy a new OU jersey today, unless you already were itching to go out and buy an OU jersey. But the Nike gold jerseys will cause some to head to the store, because they have to have anything new and different. That’s called marketing.
* Recruiting. Traditionalists can stand on the highest hill and shout into the wind all day long. But it won’t help. Young players like new and flashy uniforms. That’s not a point of debate. That’s dead-cinch fact. The very best a fan base can hope for is that its leaders embrace traditional uniforms and allow only minor modifications and only for special events, as OU and Texas have done. I mean, did you see Tennessee in the smoky grays last week? If OU wears smokey gray uniforms, then take out billboards. I’ll write the message for you, if you need me to.
But gold accents for one Saturday, in honor of the Golden Hat Trophy and an ancient series? Sorry. I can’t get worked up.