College sports' wacky uniform trend began, as most athletic apparel trends do, in Oregon, where for the past decade or so the Nike-backed Oregon Ducks have used a constantly shifting array of uniform colors and combinations to lure the once-averse eyes of the nation's best (or at least its speediest) football talent.
Since then, as it is wont to do, Nike has pushed the wacky uniform trend into widespread market adaptation. Companies like Adidas and Under Armour followed suit. Before long, non-traditional (ahem) uniforms made their way to college hoops, and the 2012 Louisville Cardinals qualified for the Final Four in hunter orange uniforms apparently designed to ensure they would never be disguised in a duck blind again. Safety first.
More than anything, the unusual uniform is a way to create "buzz," a way to grab the short attention spans of fans and (most importantly) prospects in an overcrowded recruiting marketplace. Few examples prove this rule more than Maryland football's "Pride" jerseys, which were revealed last fall to a chorus of discussion on Twitter. It was only a matter of time, then, before Under Armour -- the Nike to Maryland's Oregon -- brought the "Pride" look to the hardwood. On Wednesday, thanks to a leak obtained by the blog Testudo Times, Maryland fans got what appeared to be the first peek at the basketball edition, complete with garish Maryland-flag-inspired shoulder designs, prominent short detail, and what even looks like a flag belt buckle on the waistband.
Testudo Times's Ben Broman never claimed the designs were the finished product, and he was right: Shortly after his post was published, Maryland athletics released a statement:
"The Pride design has become a central part of the identity of Maryland Athletics, and it presents a tremendous opportunity to be incorporated into our basketball program. However, the designs being circulated today on the internet are only draft renderings. Maryland Athletics and Under Armour will make sure our fans know when we launch Pride for Maryland Basketball."
So, no, the designs are not finished product, but they are at least one iteration of the finished product. More than anything they confirm what Maryland fans had assumed would be a similar uniform campaign for the basketball side. Whether these things catch the same number of eyes as the football edition is, like Rob Dauster wrote at NBC, a similar question to whether Under Armour can eventually design a remotely attractive basketball shoe: It remains to be seen.