IOWA CITY — Half yellow-and-black, half red-and-white, 100 percent controversial.
The envelope that some college football teams kept pushing with their football uniforms in Week 1 got launched into another dimension Monday night when we saw the Under Armour attire Maryland wore against Miami.
On Saturday night, Oregon changed it up yet again, with charcoal-colored uniforms with neon yellow accents and shiny black-winged shoulders. I borrowed that description from somewhere else. I don’t associate charcoal and neon with football unis.
Georgia had some new, Arena football-ish look Saturday for its game against Boise State, going with a mostly-red uniform, and helmets that were silver and red.
Then came Maryland. From an attention-getting perspective, the Terrapins’ “Maryland Pride” get-ups made Miami’s mountain of problems look like a hill of beans.
The uniforms featured a Maryland flag on the helmet and parts of the flags on the shoulders. Not having known what Maryland’s flag looked like, I didn’t believe the Terps’ helmets were representing it until I looked it up. Yep, it’s the strangest-looking state flag in the Union, consisting of two centuries-old family crests with red and white mixing with black and yellow.
There are still a few schools where you can’t envision “Uniforms Gone Wild” happening. Penn State and Nebraska leap to mind. So does Iowa, with a coach who is happy to avoid the cutting-edge in all forms, is pretty likely to keep his players wearing black home jerseys with gold pants, and a black helmet with the gold Tiger Hawk logo.
Kirk Ferentz was asked Tuesday if he had been approached about a one-game uniform change a la Georgia and Maryland, and if he would consider doing it.
“I think that’s no and no,” Ferentz said.
“It never made it to my desk. Maybe they did (ask), I don’t know. Maybe somebody told them don’t bother.”
You don’t fix what isn’t broken. Iowa has one of the better helmet/uniform combos in college football. It’s clean, it’s attractive, it’s distinctive. Much like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ attire Hayden Fry modeled the Hawkeyes’ uniforms after over three decades ago.
“I really like our uniforms.” said Ferentz. “I think they look outstanding. That’s one thing I’ll say, we have sharp uniforms. In my opinion. That’s just my opinion. I grew up in Pittsburgh, so what do you expect?”
The new less-traditional uniforms seem to appeal to a younger demographic. Maryland’s said Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey, “was creative, pretty cool. Georgia’s uniforms, their helmets, it was pretty nice. Of course Oregon has good uniforms.”
But … “I love my uniforms. It’s tradition, you know?”
Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg called Maryland’s unis “insane,” and not in a bad way.
“I saw Oregon’s and Oklahoma State’s (gray jerseys, white pants and helmet). Those were both cool jerseys.
“We like our uniforms. It’s something that’s been tradition here for a long time. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”
Greg Morris, Iowa’s football equipment manager, said Hawkeyes apparel-supplier Nike has casually discussed putting Iowa in one of its Pro Combat uniforms, but it hasn’t really gone anywhere yet.
“The bottom line,” Morris said, “is they would have to put out a sample uniform, we’d have to approve it, and then we’d go forward.
“Kirk’s pretty traditional. It wouldn’t be too wild, I promise you that. … My guess is if we went ‘Combat’ the Tiger Hawk’s got to be somewhere. Because that’s who we are.”
Morris said that from time to time Iowa players have clamored for an all-black look. No such luck yet.
“I think in cases like ours you can’t get too carried away because then you change your identity,” he said. “Then, what is your identity?
“My guess is as long as Kirk’s here we’ll look like we look right now,” Morris said, “and that’s fine with me. People know who we are.”
One look for decade after decade has worked for popular pro franchises like the Yankees, Dodgers, Packers and Steelers.
Classic things, it has been said, never go out of style.