Are one-off uniform designs out of control?

On August 20, 2012 by Grant Edgell

Over the past handful of seasons the idea of tradition and consistency, as it relates to uniforms, has been thrown directly out the window for many schools who have participated in the ‘Nike System of Dress’ Pro Combat series of uniform designs. More recently we’ve seen Adidas and the schools they’re contracted with join the party with questionable success. Notre Dame has now dipped their toe into the new-age paint cans – Oregon is the grandfather of the idea – and Maryland has taken “this is why we can’t have anything nice” to a new level.

Certainly the whole premise of multiple uniforms revolves directly around the inflow of revenue to the programs who choose to wear them, and as collectors items I’m certain the sales of the one-off designs are favorable, but have they gone too far? Aside from the corporate marketing sham that it is, what does it say for tradition, if anything? Are you a fan of how your beloved Buckeyes have handled the idea over the past three seasons?

I have mixed emotions from an Ohio State standpoint, my own opinions, per design, from a national perspective and an incredibly strong distaste, like the vast majority of college football fans, for what the University of Maryland Terrapins have turned it into.

Ohio State is two-for-three (which we’ll deal with a little later this week), Brian Kelly and his Fighting Irish are a joke, Wisconsin and Nebraska didn’t come strong at all when they planed for 2012 and three other teams actually get positive grades for their creative eye. Off we go…


Absolutely, positively, without a single ounce of doubt the Maryland Terrapins come in dead last. There’s almost nothing any program could do at this point to outbid the Terps for worst display of school colors than what Randy Edsall (NOT Edgell) and his crew have promoted as of late.

The hideous design they sported in 2011 (pictured left) were in honor of the Maryland state flag design and were actually a hit with the home town fans. The backlash, discussion and punch lines from national onlookers was the direct opposite but certainly drew weekly attention to a program who was otherwise unmentionable with their two wins against ten losses.

The Terps train wreck threads of 2011 did well enough at the cash register to inspire new Oregon-like combination designs for 2012 that, while being better than their ancestors, are less than attractive in their own right. If nothing else Maryland and Under Armour have accomplished one thing that otherwise seems near impossible: make the Adidas uniform spin-offs look better than they actually do.


If last year’s cry for attention wasn’t bad enough, with Brian Kelly deciding he wanted their helmets painted the same gold as the ‘golden dome’ itself, they’ve absolutely one-upped themselves for 2012.

Apparently the Irish have every intention of wearing this Adidas-sponsored masterpiece against the Miami Hurricanes this year, taking a page out of the Maryland School of Failed Design. For a program and university who says the right things, banking on tradition ahead of all other, this one is coming out of left field. If ND would spend less time treating their football team solely as a business and more time treating it like, well, a football team, maybe they could rise from the ashes and become relevant again after a quarter century of mediocrity.


Three Big Ten schools that are contracted with Adidas have jumped into the uniform game as well with Michigan wearing those God awful designs last year and now Wisconsin and Nebraska jumping into the mix for 2012.

The Wolverines went all throwback’ish on us in 2011 and liked the new digs enough to wear them throughout the better portion of the schedule. As if those ugly, winged helmet designs and horrid color scheme weren’t bad enough, they went and added numbers to their headgear and stripes to their jerseys. Adidas miserably failed UM and their fans – and UM picked up that giant ball of Fail and ran with it.

As much as I’d love to declare Michigan as the “Big Ten’s Worst,” both Wisconsin and Nebraska apparently have every intention of one-upping the Wolverines in 2012 with similar designs that have no chance of becoming a national trend or favorite. Will their own fan bases latch on to the new look, or be just as thrown off as the curious onlookers who will question what in the world they’re trying to accomplish? Time will tell – but there’s just no way people will flock to add this design to their man cave.

You know, if you flip the Badgers’ “W” upside down they’d straight up be the Wisconsin Super Marios. Just saying.

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On the plus side of things (as long as you’re not a purist) there have been some one-off designs that have turned out pretty nice over the last few years. Of course for every nice looking design there are three more that should have never made it off the drawing board, but we can’t give every version a failing grade. Let’s look at what I feel have been the best three designs outside of Columbus…


The helmet alone gets them into my Top-3…



Even after living in Oregon for the last two years, and quickly growing to hate the Ducks, these are about as sharp as they come. They even look fast. I hate most all of the Ducks’ different unis – except these.

As a side note, did you know Oregon’s “Uniform Coordinator” is also the head golf coach, who is also Casey Martin of, “I’m going to sue the PGA Tour for the right to use a golf cart” fame? Yep.



Because it’s American as hell – and anti-Terrapins.

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