Under Armour is not the "first company to push the envelope in the area of college uniforms," but the jerseys the Univ. of Maryland football team wore Monday night "took whatever Nike does to an enitrely different place," according to Michael Wilbon of ESPN.com. UM nationally has “no football identity, no hook,” and company President, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank “knows this all too well because he played football at Maryland.” Plank knows “winning and not wardrobe will address that in the long-term." But Plank said, "The worst thing is when you have no voice.” Wilbon noted uniforms “often provide an identity, especially in an urban setting like Maryland’s College Park campus, located eight miles from Washington, D.C.” Plank said, “The initial question was how to create something that was striking and powerful … I wanted to be respectful … I had people saying, ‘Don’t take Terps off the helmet, don’t do this, don’t do that.’ But we’re going full-speed, and we’ll make mistakes full-speed. I’m not saying it’s perfect. … It’s definitely screaming something.” Former NFL QB Boomer Esiason, a UM alum, said, “It’s the most conversation about sports at Maryland since Gary Williams’ team won the NCAA basketball tournament in 2002. That’s a long time.” Wilbon noted a fan “tweeted excitedly that Maryland’s uniforms are 'legit.'” That shows that Plank "has done something that should excite [coach Randy] Edsall and anybody else looking at how a uniform can affect performance, or more importantly, recruitment.” The younger generations, “early returns suggest, loved the first installment of the Maryland uniforms, loved the non-conformity, loved that nothing else in college football land looks like it.” And if anything, “it should mean a ton of jersey sales for Maryland when they’re finally put in retail stores” (ESPN.com, 9/8).
LET'S GIVE 'EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: Plank appeared on ESPN Radio's "The Scott Van Pelt Show" Tuesday and said, "A lot of people are gonna have opinions, and yeah that's good. They were talking about the Maryland uniforms on the 'Today' show (Tuesday) morning." But he added, "I think the uniforms did all the talking for us, and more importantly the team did all the talking on the field." Van Pelt asked Plank "about the possibility of Maryland being to Under Armour what the many-uniformed Oregon Ducks are to Nike." Plank joked, "Don't get involved in a land war in Asia. Be careful how far that you go. This has nothing to do with anybody else, and that's the last thing we want to say. I think (Oregon has) got hundreds of combinations of uniforms. So we're not trying to say let's out-uniform anybody else. We're gonna control what we can control." However, Plank did say, "What we care about is what 17-, 18-year old kids are thinking about where they want to play football in the next couple years" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/8). In Jacksonville, Garry Smits wrote “maybe the uniforms were ugly.” But, he added, “there’s no denying that Maryland received nationwide attention when its splashy, flashy uniforms patterned after a state flag were unveiled on national TV.” In addition to “burning up Twitter and other social media sites (even drawing a reaction from LeBron James), the Maryland uniforms were featured on ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘Today’ and CNN, in addition to sports networks” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 9/7). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin wrote football fans “are still trying to digest the ultra-modern uniforms” worn by the Terps on Monday. Dowbiggin: “If the idea was to get people talking about lowly Maryland, it worked. The unis trended at the top of Twitter all Monday night and Tuesday morning” (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/8).
DIFFERING OPINIONS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the "whole point of college football" has become "getting creative to get attention." UM's "off-beat uniforms ... present a fabulous marketing tool to do just that." Hiestand: "Who cares if Maryland's odd ensembles seem inspired by medieval jousting or a first-grade art project? ... Clothes may not make the man, but costumes can really get you noticed." However, USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy writes such uniforms are a "great idea -- if you want to become a national laughingstock." McCarthy: "College football is about tradition. Keep messing with that tradition through more wild and crazy unis, and this sport will start to look like a circus." He adds, "This seems to be more about cash-strapped schools chasing the last nickel from athletic companies than anything else" (USA TODAY, 9/9).
GOING ON THE AUCTION BLOCK: In Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow reported UM “will auction 10 of both the hotly debated helmets and jerseys," with proceeds benefitting the school's athletic department. The bidding "will begin Friday morning and end at 3 p.m. on Sept. 19," with the helmets opening at $500 and jerseys for $200 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/8).