Maryland’s football uniforms slammed
A special uniform that debuted on Monday night in College Park, Md., had many fans and pundits talking about the University of Maryland Terrapins this Tuesday morning. And not because of their football skills!The uniforms, which featured a Maryland flag on the helmet and parts of the flags on the shoulders, gained nationwide buzz - and most of it wasn’t positive.
Paul Lukas, the founder of uni-watch.com and a columnist for ESPN.com who writes often about uniforms, said that the threads represented sportswear company Under Armour’s influence on the Terps.
“I don’t think they’re uniforms, I think they’re costumes at best,” he said. “At worst, they’re a marketing scheme [from] Under Armour, which is now as synonymous with Maryland as Nike is to Oregon.”
Under Armour’s founder, Kevin Plank, is a Maryland alum while Nike founder Phil Knight is an Oregon alum.
The Ducks are known for their frequently outrageous uniforms - something Lukas thinks Maryland and UA are trying to do, too. And that, he says, is using a bunch of teenagers as a marketing tool.
“It speaks to an approach that says, ‘Hey, hey, look at me’ and does so to advance the sportswear company,” he said. “What it represents to me is the company’s hijacking of 18 and 19 year olds.”
Stewart Mandel, a senior writer for SportsIllustrated.com, agreed that it was Under Armour making a statement that Maryland was their flagship program. But he didn’t think it was necessarily a terrible thing.
The statement-making uniforms, he pointed out, gave a previously unbuzzworthy program a national identity.
“As ugly as (the uniforms) were to anyone over a certain age, it accomplished exactly what they want it to,” he said. “For three hours last night, everyone was talking about Maryland football.”
“When’s the last time anyone talked about Maryland football?”
Shawn Nestor, a spokesman for Maryland athletics, didn’t deny that the goal of the uniforms were to create some buzz, but said that they were just a nod to the state’s heritage.
“Really the uniform itself is more of a branding thing from our side of things,” he said. “We’re the flagship institution in the state.”
He denied it was in any way a favor for Under Armour.
In an emailed statement to the News by Walker Jones, the Under Armour Director of Sports Marketing for college and grassroots’ program, he echoed the Maryland athletic department’s response.
“Bringing the unique and iconic characteristics of the state flag to the uniforms was a great way to define Maryland pride and to differentiate. The public response to last night’s unveiling tells us that the game was an effective platform to show people what Maryland football stands for,” he said.