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Saturday, November 29, 2014 | Last updated: 12:21am

Love 'em or hate 'em, new football uniforms find a perfect balance



Fashion dominates the runways from Paris to Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

It can be a shallow and pretentious endeavour that people obsess over, sometimes even becoming fanatical. That being said, when did fashion become such a pivotal facet of the sports realm — most notably in college football?

In the 1920’s, players used to wear brown leather helmets and high-wasted pants that resembled sacks. Needless to say, they weren’t in it for the fashion. Helmets were given designs in the ‘40s and teams started using colored jerseys in the ‘70s.

Uniform upgrades and makeovers have dominated college football and just last month, the Wildcats joined in. On May 6, their new threads were finally unveiled to the public.

The new uniforms diverge only slightly from previous installments, the most notable change being the gradient numbers and sleeves that are meant to represent the rising heat of the desert landscape.

Wildcats Athletic Director Greg Byrne said he knew he wanted a change when he hired Rich Rodriguez after the 2011 season.

Following the addition of Rodriguez’s wide-open, up-tempo offense and the ongoing stadium renovations, new uniforms seemed like the next step.

“When we hired coach Rodriguez, we had talked about uniforms and how it is such a hot topic amongst 16 to 22- year-old young men and women for that matter,” said Byrne. “We had been talking to Nike…about doing some rebranding on some things and obviously how football uniforms are one of the most highly visible pieces of your brand.”

However, teams and athletic departments can abuse this exposure by abandoning the traditions that the school was founded on. Adopting an entirely new color scheme or casting aside an iconic logo for a more modern look is commonplace nowadays. The addition of black jerseys, pants and helmets, even when it has no connection to a school’s colors, has become one of the more popular trends lately, but it was never an option for the UA according to Byrne.

Finding a color that better represented Arizona’s state history felt more appropriate. Thus, the copper helmets were introduced last fall, but even those are to be worn only under special circumstances.

While the reaction to the uniforms has been mixed, one thing the new set appears to have gotten right is the precarious balance of tradition and innovation that has been readily forgotten by most teams altering their uniforms.

— Brian Peel is a senior studying history. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatsOpinions


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