Commentary

Uni Watch: Can't-miss events

Bowl Games, Winter Classic and Super Bowl will be a Uni Watch extravaganza

Updated: December 12, 2013, 2:18 AM ET
By Paul Lukas | ESPN

Minnesota helmet University of MinnesotaSome teams might don gaudy attire, but Minnesota will wear classic white helmets in the Texas Bowl.
This is the time of year when people start writing their "Year in Review" columns. But here at Uni Watch HQ we prefer to look forward, not back, especially because there are so many uni-relevant dates on the horizon. In fact, the next two-and-a-half months or so will provide arguably the densest concentration of uni-centric events in recent memory.

Need convincing? Let's take a look at some dates that have been circled on the Uni Watch calendar, along with some predictions for how things will play out on those dates:

Dec. 21: College football's bowl season begins. Some teams will wear special uniforms for the occasion (Minnesota has already announced that it will have white helmets for the Texas Bowl), and other schools have special uni-centric protocols for bowl games (Notre Dame, for example, which will be playing in the Pinstripe Bowl, doesn't put player names on its jerseys during the regular season but adds the players' names for bowl games), so things could get interesting.

Uni Watch Prediction: Nike, adidas, and Under Armour will no doubt do their best to make bowl season look ridiculous, but most schools will opt to look classy in their year-end showcases.

Dec. 21: The Charlotte Bobcats, who will become the Charlotte Hornets next season, unveil their new Hornets logos.

Uni Watch Prediction: Expected an updated but recognizably familiar version of the original Hornets' branding.

Dec. 25: The NBA's "Big Logo" Christmas jerseys make their on-court debut. They are the first NBA jerseys in the modern era -- and possibly ever -- to have no uniform numbers on the front. Depending on whom you ask, they also look like practice shirts, T-shirts, soccer jerseys or pajama tops.

[+] EnlargeWinter Classic jerseys
NHLRed versus blue unis in white snow. How pretty.
Uni Watch Prediction: The Christmas Day games may not look great, but they'll definitely look interesting, especially since most of them will feature color-on-color match-ups (in other words, neither team will be wearing white). Your friendly uniform columnist is looking forward to seeing how they look.

Jan. 1: The NHL rings in the new year with the annual Winter Classic game, which will feature the Maple Leafs and Red Wings wearing retro-style uniforms at the Big House in Michigan. And it's a color-on-color game, too!

Uni Watch Prediction: The players will look awesome, and some light snow flurries will provide the perfect backdrop.

Jan. 6: The final BCS title game takes place. Florida State versus Auburn! Nike versus Under Armour! Traditional uniforms against, uh, more traditional uniforms!

Uni Watch Prediction: There will be lots of speculation about both teams wearing special uniforms, but in the end they'll both wear their standard designs, which should make for a very good-looking game.

Jan. 21: The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will wear nicknames on their jerseys for a game in Miami.

Uni Watch Prediction: Yawn. This will get a lot of build-up in the days leading up to the game (and at shops selling the nicknamed jerseys), but the novelty will wear off about five minutes into the first quarter. By the time the Heat play two more nickname-jersey games (both against the Nets, on March 12 and April 6), everyone will be too bored to care.

Jan. 25, 26, 29 and March 1: The NHL kicks off its Stadium Series -- four outdoor games (not to be confused with the Winter Classic or the Heritage Classic, both of which are also played outdoors). The league has unveiled a set of metallic-style team logos for the series, and three of the seven participating teams have released their uniform designs -- the Islanders, Kings and Ducks.

Uni Watch Prediction: Everyone loves outdoor games, but does each one require its own uniform? Fans will reach a point of jersey fatigue.

Uni Watch
Feb. 1: NBA commissioner David Stern steps down and is replaced by his deputy, Adam Silver. What does that have to do with uniforms? This: Silver is a strong proponent of NBA teams wearing advertising patches on their jerseys, which would be a first for a major North American sports league, while Stern has been opposed to the idea. The uni-advertising plan, originally announced a few years ago, met with strong opposition and was eventually back-burnered, but there's intense speculation that Silver will revive the plan once he takes over for Stern.

Uni Watch Prediction: Silver will indeed try to move ahead with the uniform advertising -- but not right away.

Feb. 2: Super Bowl XLVIII takes place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey -- the first outdoor cold-weather site in Super Bowl history. Given the way things are shaping up now, there's a decent chance we'll be seeing the Seahawks (who wear one of Nike's most modern-looking contemporary designs) facing off against the Broncos (who wore Nike's first modern design back in 1997 and are still wearing it today). The AFC is the designated home team this year, so the Broncos would likely choose to wear their orange jerseys, and the Seahawks would wear white.

Uni Watch Prediction: With the game taking place during a heavy snowstorm, the Seahawks' neon-green trim and accessories become a godsend, cutting through the low-visibility conditions and allowing Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to locate his receivers.

[+] EnlargeMao Asada
Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty ImagesYou know all eyes will be on the glittering, perhaps gaudy, figure-skating dresses in Sochi.
Feb. 7-23: The Winter Olympics are held in Sochi, Russia. There will be lots of uniforms to gawk at, including all the hockey unis, the snowboarding unis and let's not forget the Norwegian curling team's pants.

Uni Watch Prediction: Oh, right -- all anyone really cares about are the women's figure skating costumes.

Feb. 16: The NBA All-Star Game takes place in New Orleans. Although the uniforms haven't yet been officially unveiled, you can expect them to look a lot like the Christmas Day jerseys, with big fleur-de-lis chest logos and uni numbers on the left sleeves.

Uni Watch Prediction: Someone on the TV broadcast team will say, "Wouldn't these jerseys look better if they had nicknames on the back?"

Feb. 26: MLB's spring training schedule begins, with full slates of Grapefruit League and Cactus League games. All teams will be wearing new BP jerseys for the occasion.

Uni Watch Prediction: This latest batch of BP jerseys isn't bad, but everyone will be so happy to have baseball back in season that they won't care what the players are wearing.

March 2: The NHL Heritage Classic (not to be confused with the Winter Classic or the Stadium Series) takes place, with the Senators and Canucks wearing throwback uniforms.

Prediction: Should be the best-looking hockey game of the year.

That's a pretty good run of events to look forward to, right? And if you want to look even further ahead, the 2014 World Cup begins in June. But let's not get ahead of ourselves -- there should be plenty of good uni-related action to keep us busy before then.

All Paul Lukas wants for Christmas is a very snowy Super Bowl. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

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