September 13, 2011
Admit it: Between Georgia, Boise State and Oregon, you probably thought Nike's ongoing assault on unorthodox uniform designs had taken its best shot on the season's opening weekend, didn't you? Big weekend, big games, a few one-shot atrocities never to be seen or heard from again, that sort of thing. Well the almighty Swoosh has news for you, my friend: Widely reviled, non-traditional football fashion never sleeps.
Tuesday, Nike rolled out alternative "Pro Combat" looks for four teams: LSU (which plans its all-white look for Oct. 22 vs. Auburn), Stanford (Nov. 27 vs. Notre Dame), Michigan State (Oct. 15 vs. Michigan) and Ohio State (Oct. 29 vs. Wisconsin). And frankly, as widely reviled alternative uniforms go, they're not exactly reinventing the wheel. LSU's white helmet and white pants are more or less the usual design, only white instead of gold/yellow. Michigan State is going with a gold lid and gold numbers after decades of remaining exclusively green and white. Stanford, too, is breaking up an eternity of white helmets for a black dome against the Fighting Irish, but the red-on-red combination below the neck is nearly identical to the one Georgia wore against Boise State on Sept. 3, give or take a few degrees in the shade of red.
The greatest departure from the norm is Ohio State, which — unlike its previous exercises in "Pro Combat" modeling in 2009 and 2010 — doesn't bother with the pretense of honoring an old team with a "throwback" motif. The scarlet-and-gray scheme will be familiar to Buckeye fans, but not much else, least of all the same oversized red stripe on the helmet that pushed Georgia's alternative look past "interesting" and on to "Power Ranger." Army and Navy are both getting the Pro Combat treatment for their annual match in December, too — ironically, considering they're in training for actual pro combat — though the results there are predictably more conservative.
Say this for Nike: However far it departs from the norm, it would never do something like model a helmet design after the state flag. Because honestly, who's interested in historical or cultural relevance when you can put glowing cat eyes on a pair of gloves? Certainly not recruits, am I right?
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