When I was away in the cell black hole that is Southwest Virginia for Maryland's spring game, I ended up missing a lot. One of the things I missed then and didn't even find about until now was a certain tweet from the Diamondback proclaiming that Maryland will (or could, it sounds) be unveiling new, gold uniforms in their season opener against Navy.
How have I just heard about this?!
I realized I entirely missed the boat here and I'm breaking blogger rule #1 by missing the news in the first place and then talking about it long after it happened, but I know it's old and it's going down anyway. The idea, which I'm going to talk about later, sparked a greater interest in me that has been brewing in both myself and the fanbase for awhile now: the potential that Maryland could turn into Under Armour's Oregon, a mecca for uniform enthusiasts everywhere.
I'll explain the Oregon connection quickly: a team like Oregon could be well known for a lot of things - it's football success, for example, or it's track pedigree - but probably the most prominent thing about the Ducks is cosmetic: those awfully amazing/amazingly awful uniforms. It seems that UO is always unveiling a new uniform design and the new possible uniform combinations: the potential number has reached as high as 384, though it was most recently at eighty. That's still enough to play the entire year without wearing the same combination twice.
Why and how does Oregon do all that? Simple: Phil Knight and Nike. Knight is a massive booster for the school, and seeing how he's Nike's CEO, the corporate relations for Nike and UO are positive. Knight and Nike have made Oregon a flagship of sorts, a launching pad for potential products, jersey sales, and publicity. Oregon happily accepts the uniforms, which recently have started to look pretty sweet and definitely looks cool to a teenager watching the game on TV. In fact, it's been cited as a recruiting tool.
The weird thing about it is that Nike could've chosen from essentially anyone they wanted - Florida State, Virginia Tech, Texas, Miami, Oklahoma, Florida, and LSU are all in the stable - yet they chose a school that has a much smaller footprint than any of those listed above. Why? Patronage. One has to wonder if (and if, then when) Kevin Plank and Under Armour will try the same for Maryland.
UA took over the Terp athletics outfitting gig a couple of years ago, and the benefits have yet to be reaped, probably by either side. Maryland basketball is yet to return to an elite - partially a doing of Under Armour, one could argue - and Maryland football has fallen, not risen. But this post isn't about stuff like that.
Instead, why not talk about the potential that Maryland could become to Under Armour what Oregon is to Nike: a place to debut new, cool uniforms. Let's face it, both sides need it at this point: Maryland football needs program excitement, and debuting some sweet new unis would serve to create that, while they could also be a launching pad for a UA prototype technology. Meanwhile, Maryland's basketball jerseys aren't exactly gorgeous, and Under Armour desperately needs to get a leg up on the basketball game, which won't happen at Texas Tech, Auburn, or South Carolina.
Start off with football. Maryland jerseys aren't quite ugly, but they're definitely old - they've been using the same template since the Joel Statham era. There's a number of things wrong with this, from karma - JOEL STATHAM - to plain old simple boringness. The Terps need to mix it up soon, and it's the perfect time for Under Armor to come out with a new, bold, sexy design. And of course considering the basketball's team success with gold, don't be surprised to see them broken out. That's referring back to the original Diamondback tweet, which read:
Look out for the Terps' new gold football uniforms against Navy on Labor Day, at least that's what I was told
I am devastated that I wasn't here to catch that earlier, but holy God, please happen. There needs to be more gold in Maryland sports. There's two potential options from this, the first being that Maryland will simply trot out in their gold, QB non-contact jerseys that were on display during the spring game, which would explain why they were so detailed. Commenters thought they looked sweet, and I agreed, but on an entire team? Yikes. Fugly.
The other option is more tantalizing: UA or Maryland, somewhere down the line, realized (or will realize) that the jerseys would look awful if just paint-bucket'd gold, and redesigned them entirely, even if only as alternates. That's surely my hope, and if it's the case I'd imagine a presser would be held sometime this summer.
That, of course, is step one to a potentially larger change. If that larger change comes, I would hope that it might be partially based on the Wounded Warrior project uniforms, which featured sleeker, cooler numerals and a far less busy upper.
As for basketball, well: we're a little bitter. You see, Maryland used to have unique, distinctive, awesome jerseys that were among the best in the country. Now the Terps don generic, swoopy uniforms while Brandon Knight wears their old template (notice the trim). Who in God's name thought it would be a good idea to have a word on the shorts? While opinions are divided on Maryland's basketball uniforms, to me the only saving grace is the swag (and luck) the gold unis emanate. Other than that, I see no reason to keep an overly generic and ugly jersey in place.
That's not to say they're awful; they can be attractive in picture form, and there are certainly redeeming aspects (I like the ubiquitous black and gold trim), but they are far too busy for my taste and work poorly when in motion, which is the most important part of a basketball uniform. Especially those that darn word. Has that ever been done before?
Large-scale changes will start to occur when or slightly before Under Armor begins to release their basketball gear for sale. Maryland should be used as a catalyst to help sales, especially in the DMV. One of the best ways to do that would be to introduce a sweet new uniform, perhaps based on the same technology they'll soon be selling and marketing. And, of course, what better opening commercial than Greivis Vasquez in his brand-new Maryland uniform playing one-on-one with Brandon Jennings? Sell like hotcakes.
Personally I would like a slightly redesigned uniform that cuts down a little on the swoopiness without going too plain, like a Nike HyperElite level of simplicity/subtlety/awesomeness, both from a design standpoint and a technological one (by the way, Troy Nunes broke that news - I would be much obliged if you follow suit, Mr. Plank/Ms. Yow). If an example is required, I'm a big fan of the jerseys that Austin Rivers' high school, Winter Park, wears. None of those images are of the exact one I was looking for - the one that was TV earlier this year - but all are close; the one on TV looked great, actually. That's already a UA template, so make some slight changes and change up the technology and let's get on that.
What do you all think about jerseys and uniforms? Are you content with the ones Maryland has now, or are wholesale changes - like I want - required? Let us know in the comments; that's what they're there for.