They also mourn for those who wear black

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes,” and as I watched last night’s Virginia Tech/Boise State game I couldn’t help but think how disgraceful I found the uniforms.  It’s shameful because last night’s game was a classic!  An epic battle of David versus Goliath that captured the nation’s attention.  Sadly, those uniforms will become just as much apart of history as the game itself. This is not good for our beloved college football, and we will soon be forced to see these horrid threads over and over in highlights.

Virginia Tech was clad in all black, with a NEON orange stripe down the side of their uniform pants, and more neon orange just under the shoulder pads wrapping around to the front of the jersey. As if that wasn’t enough, there was some sort of purple futuristic design going on within the neon orange that I couldn’t quite make out.  Needless to say, it was a ghastly sight.  Boise State didn’t make as bold a statement with their uniforms, but we’re not letting them off easy here.  Their metallic blue pants would have made any Honda Fit owner blush, and their blue-ish gray jerseys looked as though someone had thrown up Maui Punch Pixy Sticks and the blue flavor low carb Gatorade.  Luckily, the quality of the game was helpful to distract from the wretched sight, but by the second quarter I concluded that Nike is destroying college football!  It’s as clear as day, and as dark as night… Phil Knight.

Phil Knight, the University of Oregon booster and co-founder/CEO of Nike, must be stopped.  For too long he and Nike have shown nothing but disdain for two pivotal fabrics that help keep our society what it is: common sense and tradition.  Without either of these pillars society crumbles and the terrorists win (insert Bush cabinet joke here).  When you look at the Virginia Tech website it’s very clear that burnt orange and maroon are the school colors.  Yet last night I saw their football team wearing black and neon orange.  Does Phil Knight consider himself so god-like that he can CHANGE a university’s identity?  Apparently he does, and the contracts that these schools sign with Nike allow him to do so.  I don’t know who to blame more, but it’s sad state of affairs for all involved.

Now after having some time to digest all of this, and reflecting on what I’ve seen recently in sports, I have decided to come up with rules.  I expect everyone to help me keep tabs on offenders, and to punish offenders by any means necessary.  I for one have always been partial to public humiliation.

1) No uniform should EVER don a color that is not associated with its school.  BLACK is not a default color for all schools.  I’m talking to you Virginia Tech, Stanford, Florida State, Utah, and all the others who think they can do this.  It can however be used as trim such as how the color white has been used for decades.

2) The primary color of the jersey and the primary color of the pants SHOULD NOT be the same.

  • Exceptions to the rule would allow teams that wear white helmets to wear white pants and jerseys.  This is a classic look and I have no problem with this.  So Texas, and others alike, you are safe.
  • No other exceptions will be allowed.  So please, no more red-on-red, orange-on-orange, blue-on-blue, etc uniform schemes.  This also applies to the NFL so I had BETTER NOT SEE the Redskins break out the burgundy-on-burgundy EVER AGAIN!  My head is still spinning from the Monday Night Football debacle versus Pittsburgh two years ago.   I also don’t want the white-on-white Carlisle look.  Save that for training camp practices.

3) Teams with classic and traditional uniforms may ONLY alter those uniforms subtly, and nothing major can be done all at once.  We have to think about the public’s mental health here.  If Penn State were to suddenly go with something other than the white helmet and blue jerseys/white pants it would most likely lead to chaos in Happy Valley.  The Berkery Creamery would be set on fire, melting all the Peachy Paterno ice cream, and the Nittany Lion Shrine would be toppled over.

4) Alternate jerseys can only be worn twice a year.  You get one home game alternate, and one away game alternate.  No black alternate jerseys if black is not associated with your school (see rule #1).

In all seriousness, yes it is just a game.  The play on the field matters more, and that is the thing that counts above all.  I simply believe that schools, and the people they do business with, have a responsibility to stay true to the game.  This has to take into account all facets of the game that range from the play on the field, to traditional game day cheers, to rival week festivities, and all the way to the uniforms we see our teams wear.  Sadly, we are coming to a point where new and progressive (i.e. more money) is causing our traditions – an important element that helps create the magical atmosphere in sports – to become irrelevant.  I, for one, find this troubling because after all it’s the pageantry that lured us to the game, and ultimately is what we are buying.


About Patrick C. Duffy

Patrick Duffy is a Communications/Journalism student at the University of Maryland, University College. I also teach sixth grade English, high school Journalism, and Physical Education. Additionally, I’m the school’s Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach. My work is featured on the Maryland page of Bleacher Report, and has been redistributed by the University of Maryland football and baseball teams.


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