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. donterp

    First, the Maryland flag is distinctive and attractive. I thought the new jersies were great and while the helmet was a bit BUSY, at least they brought recognition to a great program. However, one thing is certain: any sports reporter who has nothing better to worry about than the uniform is not worth reading or listening to.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fudds

      A great program? Have you never seen them play? wow seriously

      September 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MDcomments

    Love the Unis. Tradition and cutting edge at the same time. Of cousre, there are the haters, but I say it was a good move. Good job Terps.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark Croson

    Maryland's uniforms just accentuated their new playing style. Their uniforms looked great as was the enthusiasm with their new coach, O'Brian's great quaterback play and the offensive play calling against Miami. Fantastic. The Terps really will stand out this year and the uniforms will be the least of the story.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ryck Young

    coolest thing I have ever seen! If you know Maryland rich history with the Calvert Family and the King of England THEN you may be able to appreciate truly showing your state colors since the University of Maryland is the state university. There are always the boo haa haa's. I know people if you gave then $100,000 they would conplain it was all in $100 bills. You can never keep everyone happy.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ACCFan.NC

    Ultimately, when it comes to uniforms, any attention is good attention. Who cares really. I personally think the new uniforms look great. Its the bland, no color uniforms that usually let me forget a team existed. I've always thought the MD. flag looked awesome, so I think similarly towards the uniforms naturally. The undershirts on the other hand could be redone.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Melissa UMD

    I'm a student here and I just have to say that they look so much better in person than on TV. So don't bash them too bad until you see them in person.... Go Terps!!

    September 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Damon Zex

    Would someone tell the University of Rorschach, err, Maryland, that Hellen Keller would like her uniform designs back. Oh, and they beat Miami, with 7 starters suspended. They did not win the Nat'l Championship. Sign 'em up for the Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl, if they are lucky.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lani

    Crash test dummies!

    September 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sarah

    The NCAA needs to get firm with teams that want to change the color of the field and put some controls on uniform colors. Boise blue is ridiculous and totally gives them an advantage. It must mess with the opponents eyes, depth perception and ability to concentrate.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PittFan

    Maryland... Worst Uniforms Ever!

    September 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Aaron

    Haters gonna hate.

    The fact is MARYLAND FANS LOVE THE NEW UNIFORMS. And the new uniforms have been an incredibly successful PR campaign. The uniforms have been talked about on the front pages of CNN.com, ESPN.com and Yahoo.com among others. Would people be talking about last night's game otherwise? Probably not. Brilliant move by the University of Maryland and Under Armour. GO TERPS!!!

    September 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    One thing for sure the Maryland QB will be able to tell a bit faster which way his receivers are running

    September 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ram

    The uniforms were great. Change is a good thing. This column stinks.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. smrtaz

    Those uniforms make me think of the character "Two Face" from the Batman movies/cartoon.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jueceman

    The Maryland flag is very distinctive, you would have to grow up in Maryland to apprciate the uniforms. I say it is a A+ for creativity, and an A+ for reviving some chatter and confidence for the Universirty of Maryland who generates a substancial amount of pro prospects year in and year out.

    September 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Did those uniforms inspire chatter? Absolutely.

      Confidence? Not so much.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
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