NORMAN — Oklahoma unveiled a couple new alternate uniforms Tuesday afternoon.
After the U.S. soccer team’s World Cup loss — why on earth would OU release this news in the middle of the American World Cup game, by the way? — I called and spoke to several former players about the new uniforms.
Here is a bigger compilation of what former Sooners told me yesterday about the new alternate uniforms.
Tight end, 1999-2002
On his reaction: “I know that’s kinda the new trend, and I’m all for whatever brings more star recruits into the program. I’m a traditionalist, but in 2003, when they wore the throwback uniforms, I was so jealous.
“The picture I saw had Striker, Knight, Shepard and Grissom wearing the different colors. Those are the leaders of the team, so if they’re into it … From playing in college and the NFL, all you really want is to feel good in your uniform. You wanna feel like you look good.
“Deion Sanders once told me, ‘You look good; you play good.’ I’m an old man at this point. If that’s the style and the kids like it and they feel like they can go out and play some football in it, then I’m all for it.
“Personally, I’m not a huge fan of it.”
On the outside perception of the new uniforms: “One thing I know about Coach Stoops, and one of the reasons that everybody who plays for him loves him, is he doesn’t care what anybody thinks but the people inside that building. And now that I’m not in that building, that includes me.
“You’ve gotta respect a man that’s all about his business and the people he goes to work with every day. I’m gonna buy my tickets and come to the games and cheer, and do everything, whether they’re wearing pink and purple polka dots or whatever uniform they wanna trot out there. It’s fine with me. I don’t care what they do. At the end of the day, any OU traditionalist wants to win.
“If you told one of the traditionalist fans, ‘Alright, we’re gonna win five national championships in a row, but we’re gonna wear this uniform,’ I think they’d take it. I think it’s kinda ridiculous people wanna get upset about it.
“If the guys on the team feel comfortable in them, then damn, I’m all for it.”
On the momentum from the stadium upgrades and now alternate uniform: “I know there’s a feeling inside the program that things have gotten stagnant a little bit, as far as fundraising and big projects and staying ahead of the curve. We’ve fallen behind a little bit. I don’t think that’s gonna be the case anymore for the foreseeable future.
“It’s really exciting, and if the uniforms are gonna be part of it, and Coach Stoops and the players signed off on it and they’re winning games, all that noise is gonna fade into the background. Our tradition is winning; it’s not any particular uniform.”
Oh his initial reaction: “I like it. There’s a bunch of people, and I understand this perspective, who have been fans of the team for a long time and they love the traditional uniforms. Keep it simple. I understand that, but for me personally, I’m not really tied to that. I think keeping it new, keeping it trendy … players like that for whatever reason. Things get really mundane as a player, so whenever you change up anything, they get excited. A change in uniform. A change in practice schedule. A change in any type of routine, the players absolutely love it.
On the recruiting impact: “Some of those smaller universities that are tweaking their uniforms are being able to recruit with the big boys. I think to stay out in front of that is a good move. Recruiting has completely changed. The days of being able to walk into any kid’s house in the country and say, ‘We’re Oklahoma’ … I think those days have changed. You’ve gotta prove you’re the better place. Recruiting right now in college football is as competitive as it’s ever been. It wasn’t very long ago, 10, 12 years ago, where the big recruiting pitch was how many times you were gonna be on television. Well now, almost every team is on television every week.
On wearing throwback uniforms in 2003: “We loved it. It was the greatest thing ever. Really all we did was wear a white helmet and they put two little stripes on the sleeves. It’s not like it was some huge change to the uniform, but we talked about it for months leading up to it. We couldn’t wait for it. It’s amazing how just a little tweak here and there gets the players all excited.”
On traditional powers being skittish about uniform changes: “When you’ve been one of the true programs that’s made it through time — Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma — you can look at that uniform and say, ‘We don’t need to change.’ I can understand people with that perspective. You’re gonna hear it tomorrow: ‘I don’t see Alabama changing their uniform.’ Well, wait until they don’t win four out of five national championships. There’s gonna be a time when they dip a little bit and they’re gonna be trying to figure out ways to stay relevant and stay trendy.”
Defensive back, 2005-07
On his initial reaction: “It’s about six, seven years too late.”
Is it good to give the players a boost of excitement? “Yeah. I know we’re a very traditional team, but I think it’s a little boost. Something new. Something different.”
Will this help with recruiting?: “It probably will. It’s crazy how it works, but it’ll probably be beneficial. You know, Oregon has about 15 different jerseys. I’m pretty sure that helps them out. I think it will at the end of the day.”
Is this something you guys talked about?: “We talked about it, but nothing was gonna happen back then. I think we brought it up one time, but it got shot down pretty quick. There was nothing we could do about it.”
You were part of the player committee that helped with this process. When did this begin?: About a year ago or so. It was pretty cool. We met with and talked to the AD and some of the upper guys. The president and those guys about it. Aaron Colvin was part of the original three (with Gabe Ikard). After that, they brought a bunch of the guys in later on in the process.”
Is it bittersweet since you won’t get to wear them?: “It kinda is, but it’s still good for the guys who will get to play in them. It’ll be fun watching the guys in different uniforms. A little bittersweet, but still awesome to be part of.”
What do you like about the final product?: “The wood grain on the helmets is definitely my favorite part of it. That and also the red pants. I don’t know; I just feel like I’ve always worn white every year I’ve been at Oklahoma. I think that’ll be an interesting change-up.”
These uniforms can be mixed and matched to create different combinations?: “That’s what’s kinda cool about these uniforms. They don’t only have to be worn in two different ways. They can be mixed and matched.”
On wearing gold trim last year vs. Texas: “The gold for the Texas game was awesome, too. It’s all things that just kinda make it fun and make the games a little different, but it doesn’t distract from anything at all.”
Will this help with recruiting?: “Maybe a little bit. It might change a few guys’ opinions, but the uniforms weren’t the reason why I picked OU, and weren’t the reason why I thought about any other team.”
Tight end, 2007-11
On his initial reaction: “I come from Weatherford, Okla., and we wore red pants, so I like it. That was the best thing I liked was the red pants and the red helmets.
I think it’s great for the players. I don’t think it should get out of hand. My opinion on the whole uniform thing is that it’s become some type of race where everyone is trying to get the cool new things.
“Ultimately it’s a sport. It’s a game. It’s based on your performance and your effort. Also, though, at the same time, when you like what you’re wearing and you think you look good, that probably helps you.
Did you guys talk about alternate uniforms when you played?: “I didn’t really care what I was wearing. As long as I had a helmet and shoulder pads and everything like that, I didn’t really care. I was there to play as hard as I could. I didn’t mind putting on the same thing every day.
Do you think this was necessary?: “Do I think it’s necessary? No, I don’t think any of it was necessary. Necessary is a funny word though. I think the necessary aspects of football are you need a helmet, you need shoulder pads and you need leg pads, and you obviously don’t wanna be out there naked.
“It’ll add excitement for the fans because they don’t know what the team is gonna be wearing now.”
Was it exciting in 2009 when you guys wore Nike Pro Combat uniforms at Texas Tech?: “It was a really cool thing. Logistically, there were problems that came along with having one game where you were wearing this totally new outfit. Like people didn’t have the right undershirt they wanted. That was figured out though. It wasn’t that bad. I think once it becomes an imminent thing and the players and equipment staff know they have other uniforms, those logistical problems work themselves out.”