December 29, 2011 by David Gillaspie
(originally posted on oregonsportsnews.com)
LOOKING GOOD AND PLAYING BETTER
Small packages wrapped in bright paper fill the gaps under a Christmas tree. Some are treasures, some are funny, and some don’t make it past New Years.
The difference is quality. For example, the dollar headphones aren’t the same as Bose noise cancelers any more than a cheap watch for a college graduate matches a sweet Seiko chronograph.
There’s a similar difference in thought when you believe a football team’s colors determine the way they play. Fashion experts seem to forget quality when they discuss Oregon’s uniforms.
Sports fashionistas use the demographic explanation of ‘you don’t like the evolving uniform systems because you’re too old,’ and, ‘they are aimed at eighteen year olds deciding where to spend the next four years, and television cameras. Not you.’
The more telling opinion is ‘they keep changing their uniforms because they always lose their big games,’ or, ‘new uniforms don’t carry the stink of losing the natty.’
These opinions are wrong and need addressing.
First, let’s put an end to the new uniform as camouflage for sub-par football excuse.
Pick a school wearing their traditional uniforms, a powerhouse program with a plain number, maybe a name, on their jerseys. Now review the teams on the field for last years BCS National Championship Game.
Look for Penn State. Search for Notre Dame. Any sign of Oklahoma, Alabama, or Ohio State? Keep looking.
Did Tennessee come down from Rocky Top? Did Nebraska finish husking corn soon enough to play for the crystal ball? Where was USC’s Trojan? Benched.
You’ll find the record book shows Oregon and Auburn. That Oregon. The Oregon with the unique uniforms. They were good enough to get to the last game, just not good enough to avoid a last gasp field goal win by the War Tiger Eagles. And they did it in never-before-seen Nike outfits.
The last game of the year was the Big Game and Oregon played it until the end.
They were that good. If they took the field wearing Red Grange-era gear from the 1920’s, they were still that good.
Oregon was fashionably outrageous when they scheduled LSU for the first game of 2011. Who does that with a Honey Badger on the loose? It ended up a clash of styles. Then Oregon was so outrageous that they ran the table until USC and another time-expiring kick.
New uniforms today may surprise some, but not sports fans. They know Oregon and expect a statement of both football and fashion. They understand how uniform development means better protection for the players and improves the game, the same way NASCAR improvements benefit passenger cars. Think tail wings and spoilers.
The most outraged by the fashion statement are casual fans, the ones with subscriptions to Glamour and Vogue and Cosmo. They can’t stand sports fashion trespassing onto their hallowed haute couture. Besides, how dare Oregon trample the tradition of college teams who wear two uniforms all year, one for home, one for away.
You are the Oregon Ducks, they say, not the Clothes Horses. Why make it more complicated?
If uniforms allowed only three losses in two years, every football team in America would dress like the fire-eating clowns on Bourbon Street. If uniforms were the talisman for college football, the bands would play the games and the Grambling Tiger Marching Band would win every year by forfeit. No one could reach their level.
Going to a third BCS game in three years isn’t what teams hiding behind their uniforms do, yet bashing Oregon for their gear remains in fashion. It’s part of the game, right?
It is if you think uniforms are really that important. With the down-on-Duck-uniform fashion crowd in mind, this is their Dream Team.
Pierre Cardin takes the field for the Grand Daddy of them all, the world famous Rose Bowl, wearing a fragrance equal to the most complex flower. The skill and speed of this wily veteran continues to improve game to game. His arm strength and field of vision remain unchallenged.
Giorgio Armani lines up in the slot wearing his famous unstructured jersey, an affront to the box-shouldered suit/uniform systems of the past.
Christian Dior goes wide left with his trademark rounded shoulders and cinched waist with Gianni Versace on the right and Donatella on the cheer team.
Up front the all-American big uglies drop a hand in the dirt. Guards Calvin ‘Scrap Iron’ Klein and Ralph ‘Pony Boy’ Lauren flank center Bill ‘The Collector’ Blass. Tackles Oscar ‘Grouchy’ de la Renta and Marc ‘The C’ Jacobs protect the edges while tight end Todd ‘Batman’ Oldham of Texas drops linebackers and safeties, but not the ball, with his routes across the middle.
Oregon Duck fashion for the Rose Bowl means everyone wins. From Honey Badger to Wisconsin Badger, it’s been a hard year. Let’s close out the season in style with new designs from these guys.