Archive for the ‘Nike’ Category

Wardrobe Malfunction (Or So I Thought)

On Saturday, The Gators will face the Seminoles in The Swamp in their last regular season game of the 2009 campaign. A win will allow Florida to accomplish something they never have before. It would be the first time ever that they completed the regular season with no losses or ties. That would be a nice accomplishment to add to Florida’s record book. Unfortunately, because of the fact that FSU (6-5) just barely crossed the threshold for bowl eligibility, this is the least anticipated season finale in my lifetime. ESPN doesn’t agree, however, as they have sent College Gameday to set up camp outside The Swamp. Personally, I feel that there are more competitive match-ups on the docket, namely Miami @ USF. Nonetheless, Corso and co. will be in town, going through the motions of wearing Albert’s head for the world to see.┬áSome might argue that ESPN chose Gainesville because they adore Tebow, and in light of the absence of any real marquee match-ups, they might as well feature the top-ranked (and currently undefeated) defending National Champs. That is all fine and good, but I suspect there is more at work than just that.
Sponsorship.
Earlier this season, Nike unveiled their new line of football gear called Nike Pro Combat. “Ten storied programs” were chosen to wear their “game-changing uniforms.” Taking the template of the Oregon Ducks’ current uniforms, and making slight stylistic tweaks, Phil Knight (Nike CEO) has fashioned uniforms to be worn by the Gators in their home finale. When I first heard the news, I rolled my eyes. Having seen what Phil Knight’s fashion sense can do to the credibility of a football program, I feared the worst. Fortunately, the uniforms created for Florida are not half bad. In-fact, I actually kinda like them. Admittedly, I hated them at first. But, the more I looked them, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this would be a nice change of pace, especially for an SEC school. Although Florida is a bit ahead of the curve, the┬áSEC as a whole is known for wearing boring uniforms in the archaic styles of their 1950’s predecessors. FSU’s helmet design screams “we stab and hurt people (or at least we used to)”, and UF’s helmet design meekly whispers “we remember how to write in cursive…except for those damn ‘Gs'”. It will be nice to see a uniform that is a bit more aggressive, and to that point, progressive in the SEC.
Having ESPN’s Gameday brodcast the game which features two of the ten “Pro Combat” teams is good press. Gameday broadcast from Fort Worth earlier this year. As luck would have it, TCU unveiled their Pro Combat uniforms that day against Utah. The Horned Frogs won 55-28. I guess there is no conspiracy to cry foul about, but I am just not a big fan of promotions like this. “We are the all-powerful Nike. As a show of our magnanimity, we will bestow upon a selected few, garments worn by Zeus himself (when he played back-up tight end on Olympus High’s J.V. squad. He quit football to concentrate solely on baseball. It was a tough decision for him, because he liked football more, but was better at baseball, and thus got more playing time).” Nonetheless, The Gators’ inclusion in this campaign cements their place as one of the elite commercial pillars in college athletics. And I am sure the athletic department will be making a few bucks off this, so that is nice.
As you may remember, in 2007, Nike had a similar marketing campaign wherein Arizona, Florida, Ohio State, and Syracuse were selected to wear prototype uniforms. It worked out better than Nike could have possibly hoped, as both Florida and Ohio State wore those jumpsuits all the way to the Championship Game, with The Gators besting the Buckeyes for their second national title in as many years. Here is to hoping that the Gators’ football counterparts can walk a similar road to repetition.