"Fifty-plus years watching college football, and I have to keep reminding myself that that isn't Oregon State."
That was the reaction of one Uni Watch reader during last night's game between Boise State and, well, a team that looked a lot like Oregon State. It was actually Virginia Tech, natch, but you could be forgiven for not realizing that, given the black/orange color scheme.
A few thoughts about the much-discussed uniforms:
• What's the point of wearing your school name on your chest if it's barely legible?
• Tech's matte-finish helmet looked pretty good. Not the stripes -- those were unnecessary -- but the flat finish itself. More teams should try this.
• Because the Boise jerseys were made of different types of fabric, different areas changed colors at different rates as the players perspired, creating a weird two-tone gray effect -- not good.
• Also not good: Having one "B" on one knee. Does every single scrap of real estate need to have a logo or graphic?
Really, though, these uniforms resist conventional design critiques, because they weren't created for conventional reasons. A uniform is normally supposed to provide a stable identity for the team and create a familiar set of visual signifiers for fans to recognize and bond with. But there was nothing familiar or stable about these designs, which were created mainly to create hype for a Nike product line. The sad part about this is that some of Nike's more noteworthy innovations here (like the matte helmet, or the cool one-sided logo on Boise's helmet, which they should use on a full-time basis) end up getting lost amidst all the clutter. More to the point, the game didn't need any hype, visual or otherwise -- it was a great match-up on paper, and even better on the field. Wouldn't it have been nice if the schools had been wearing their usual colors and designs?
You can see where this is going: Soon teams will have a "special" uniform for nearly every game of the season. But by trying to convince us that every game is special, the implicit message is that none of them are.
Editor's note: CLICK HERE for a full Uni Watch breakdown of all the new Nike Pro Combat college uniforms.