Nike Uniforms Integral In Univ. Of Oregon's Football Success
The Univ. of Oregon kicks off the football season Saturday ranked in the top five in both major polls, and the school's athletic program "clearly is the beneficiary of its unique relationship" with Nike Chair Phil Knight, according to Michael Kruse of GRANTLAND.com. The most "conspicuous portion of Knight's lavish contributions are the team's much-discussed uniforms -- the yellows and the greens, the blacks and the grays, the highlighter neons and the stormtrooper whites, the many different helmets and jerseys and pants and socks and shoes, the more than 500 possible combinations in all." UO Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard said, "The uniforms, I think, more than anything else are probably the key ingredient." After the school lost in the '96 Cotton Bowl, Knight asked Nike designers how the Oregon-based brand could "make teenagers who are good at football want to come" to UO. Knight has spent an estimated $300M on "stadium additions, luxury boxes, and palatial locker rooms," all of which "are on the list of reasons Oregon's football team got good." But Nike designers also "did their part, using the Ducks program as part laboratory, part showroom." Nike Creative Dir Todd Van Horne said, "Nothing is off the table." Swangard: "If no one knows your product exists, there is no demand for your product, and at the end of the day it's about 18-year-old kids. The uniforms are the key ingredient to getting those bodies there, and the bodies are what win you football games" (GRANTLAND.com, 8/31). A recent study from Turnkey Sports finds that sports execs associate Nike with college football more than any other brand.