Throwing the flag: 15 yards for bad football fashion?
Maryland's new uniforms have sparked a large debate online about whether they are a great change or the worst uniforms ever.
September 6th, 2011
12:31 PM ET

Throwing the flag: 15 yards for bad football fashion?

When it comes to college football, everyone's got an opinion. Usually it centers on a quarterback or a blown call, but for the opening week of the 2011-12 season, the biggest uproar is about ... fashion?

There's no fury like a fierce fan's reaction to a slam on their team's colors or, apparently, changes to their squad's uniforms. Opening weekend is usually a chance for teams to make a statement about being ranked too low - or not at all - but this year, several teams are making a fashion statement.

Many observers have likened this year's opening weekend to attending an Under Armour or Nike fashion show.

Perhaps football is learning a lesson from tennis stars like Maria Sharapova or Venus and Serena Williams, whose custom getups have often drawn more attention than their backhands. Or perhaps football is looking to expand its demographic by making opening weekend about, "But what will they wear?"

You have to start with the Oregon Ducks, who know a thing or two about being criticized for uniforms, especially when they look like tennis balls.

The Oregon team in 2010 sported a true neon look.

This year, you might say the Ducks were the most tame of those who changed up their looks.

The Oregon Ducks sport a new uniform.

The team is known for its flashy outfits, but even though that neon yellowish-green remains an accessory, they looked more like a combat unit this weekend. And that's a compliment. Oregon - guided by a famous alum, Nike founder Phil Knight - paved the way for new designs, but it also paved the way for making a better team, and apparently setting a fashion trend (though there were some real bad decisions made in many cases).

This year, it appears the biggest uproar is coming from Maryland fans or anyone watching Monday's Maryland-Miami game on TV.

From the moment they entered the stadium, there was a collective "huh?" from most people watching. There was immediately a fierce debate, especially on Twitter and Facebook, about the Terrapins' outfits. Depending on which side of the aisle you fall, you see it as either an affectionate nod to their undying love for the state or a group of men headed to a Medieval Times joust.

Maryland's new uniforms have caused an uproar among fans.

The Under Armour ad for the uniforms would have you believe the players were indeed going to battle, with their colors proudly emblazoned on their sleeves. (Like Knight, Under Armour's CEO, Kevin Plank, is just looking out for his alma mater.)

The divide over Maryland's uniforms appears to be equal, with venomous comments calling for the uniforms to be sacked and others applauding them for trying something new to add some spirit to the team. (Fret not, there are a few other Maryland alternatives out there.)

"Did you know if you held your smartphone up to a Maryland helmet last night, it would have scanned it as a QR code?" Toby Srebnik, a Florida State graduate who lives in Coral Springs, Florida, wrote on Facebook.

Some said it looked like a really bad Trapper Keeper from the 1990s.

Perhaps the most humorous comment on Facebook: “I blame the (Frederick, Maryland) power outage on TVs overloading from trying to display Maryland’s uniforms.”

Talk show host Jim Rome tweeted his thoughts on the uniforms by comparing them to Miami's recent problems with NCAA regulations.

"Whatever the NCAA does to Miami, it should double for Maryland. Those helmets truly demonstrate a lack of institutional control," he wrote.

Perhaps someone thought, "Hey, Miami is really distracted with the suspensions and this Nevin Shapiro business. What can we do to utterly destroy the 'Canes' concentration Monday night?" And yet it might have worked, as the Terps picked up the win.

That couldn't be said for some of the other teams taking heat for their unis this weekend.

The Georgia Bulldogs sported a look that had a lot of fans wondering whether they had been inspired by a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger or Gatorade Fruit Punch commercial. Others likened it to an XFL uniform, while those supportive of their Dawgs thought it gave them a sleek new look. Besides the head-to-toe red and the massive metallic strip along the helmet, there was the curious decision to place GEORGIA in all caps on the backs of the players' jerseys.

Georgia added a metallic flavor to their jerseys -- and scrapped player names.

The idea is a noble one. Just ask the New York Yankees or the U.S. men's national soccer team. Ditching the players' names says no one player is more important than the next, but team names are traditionally on the front, not on the back. The less football-savvy are left to wonder whether there's a heck of a lot of guys with the last name Georgia. Judging by comments online, it looked pretty foolish to a lot of people.

Food writer John T. Edge was among those who weighed in.

"Football Saturday night: Blair keeps referring to UGA's new uniforms as 'outfits.' She's right."

Which brings us to their opponents, Boise State. They went the other direction, perhaps in answer to the criticism they've faced over jerseys that match the turf on their home field. They've been called Smurfs, Cookie Monsters and the Blue Man Group, so they definitely dialed it down for the season opener this year.

Boise State takes the field on their home blue turf in 2010.

Some fans felt they may have rushed out the uniforms before they were finished. Others wondered whether Napoleon Dynamite had scrawled the doodle on the helmet.

The Boise State Bronco is depicted on one half of the helmets. The other side is blank.

We could go on forever. We could talk about the Oklahoma State uniforms that looked like correctional facility outfits, perhaps leftovers Burt Reynolds shared after filming "The Longest Yard."

We could speculate about the pictures circulating of Arizona State's new look, which appears to have dropped the mischievous Sun Devil logo in favor of a pitchfork (Make your own Arizona State uniform here!)

But we'll leave it you, This Just In readers. Sound off below and tell us which uniforms you hated, which ones you loved and what you hope to see over the rest of the season - fashionwise, of course.

soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. BC

    At least all of the uniforms pictured in the article had the team name and player numbers on them and not some gaudy corporate logo taking up most of the space. NCAA uniforms may have gotten crazy with the number of possible patterns and helmet/jersey/pants combos, but as long as they still use the team names and colors they'll be lightyears ahead of the world's soccer leagues and the ad-laden garbage they wear.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kristen

    Maryland's uniforms are based on their state flag, which represents the coats of arms of the parents of the first Lord Baltimore, the state's founder. The equal depiction of both the Calvert (black and gold) and Crossland (red and white) insignia is important because during the Civil War, the black and gold represented the Union state and the red and white colors were taken up by secessionists; after the war was over the current flag developed as a way to visually represent reunification, and the United States made whole. So it's got some deeper meaning there than just being "ugly," representing "crash test dummies" or "medieval."

    September 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Yes it has meaning, but yes its still UGLY.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Terri

    I like the Maryland uniforms!

    September 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bigbob

    r u kidding me.looks like they didn't have enough material to make 1 uniform,much less a full team.i see why they call it PRIDE.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LarryM

    Maryland's uniforms look like European soccer uni's. Yech!

    September 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. thetooloftools

    Those Maryland uniforms were worse then anything I have ever seem. NOBODY can justify that dumpster fire in cloth.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TB80

    I am trying to remember that last time a uniform won a game? Isnt it the person/s within them that win games? I applaud their creativity and look forward to new unis every week. As much as I like Penn St's uniform, we don't need to all look like traditional, run of the mill colleges. Maryland, do it again and I might have to start rooting for you!!

    September 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob Marley

    Maryland's new uniforms are great. Unique and relevant to the state and its history. Most uniforms are so boring. These are very "graphic forward" while paying homage to state history. Go Terps. Wear them with Pride.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Trent

    Why is there another option besides Maryland to vote for. Those unis are a complete train wreck. Yea Georga's a insultingly ugly, but Maryland brough ot over the top. Why would a top recruit decide he would wear this???

    September 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry

    Everyone can say what they will but, if nothing else, the new uniforms at Maryland have provided more nationwide exposure, advertising and commentary – thank you ESPN, Twitter, Facebook etc. – than anything in it's long and distinguished history.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NoodleHat

    People complaining need to go just get hit by a bus. There's nothing that should be seen as truly offensive... You'll probably find that there's someone that hates something, no matter what it is. I swear people need to be sterilized and just let the human race die off to let the planet purge itself.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sam from Cali

    I actually like the Maryland uniforms. At least it's representative of something meaningful.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hecep

    The design intent is notable and worth pursuing, but it looks like somebody (or their wife) in the "front office" got their exact way rather than seek out the services of a proper designer who likely would have presented a STYLIZED version of the flag.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TB80

    From a football perspective, I would tend to think when the team was on offense they would blend a lot better and it would be tougher to catch the running back through the artistry of those unis. Like a LB or FS trying to catch a glimpse of the carrier or QB. However, when on defense the opposite might be true. I would think a runner, that has to use peripheral vision, it would be easier to spot the defender without having to turn his head. Or a QB that might ordinarily miss that LB in coverage, no way misses that helmet. Just MHO>

    September 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Eric

    Well, Kevin Plank got exactly what he wanted. National TV advertising with some great marketing. Same with College Park. So thanks to all of you for hyping it up. Go Terps

    September 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • stella

      That's right. Go TERPS. I think the idea of the state flag is cool and way better than the little cursive "Terps" on the side of the helmet we have seen for freakin' ever now. I like the new uniforms! And if it looks like two different teams depending on which side you are looking at, maybe that's a plus if it confuses the other team! TERPS BAABBBYY!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
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