There might not be anything more polarizing in college football than uniforms.
Everyone, it seems, has uniform opinions. Rarely are folks neutral. There are the traditionalists that yearn for the uniforms of 50 years ago, there are progressives who love what Oregon does with their uniforms on a weekly basis, and there are people who like to see some small updates while keeping things simple.
The Tennessee Vols’ uniforms underwent several semi-major changes during the Butch Jones era. Tennessee unveiled smokey grey jerseys and pants/helmets featuring the Vols’ end-zone checkerboard pattern.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Tennessee would ditch the smokey grey jerseys.
On Thursday, news broke that UT will return to the single orange stripe on the pants and helmet.
Sources have confirmed that @Vol_Football will be retiring the checkerboard stripe on the helmet and pants, and will instead have a single solid stripe. These uniform changes are added to the return of black cleats and the dropping of Smokey grey alternate. pic.twitter.com/lMtQRs4q7r
— Chad Fields (@CfieldsVFL) July 12, 2018
I actually didn’t mind the checkerboard pattern that much, since it’s big part of Tennessee’s tradition. These changes really aren’t a big deal to me.
Except for one thing that I feel this change reveals.
In the past, much has been made about how uniforms affect recruiting. When the traditionalists were bemoaning the Vols’ recent jersey changes (specifically the smokey greys), they were constantly reminded that “it helps recruiting”.
But I don’t think that’s true. At all. And these changes prove it.
If jerseys played such an important part in recruiting, don’t you think Nick Saban, and by extension Jeremy Pruitt, would place a bigger emphasis on “flashy” uniforms?
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that some of college football’s most successful programs (Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State etc) have pretty basic uniforms. The focus should be on the product on the field, not what the back of the helmets look like.
Sure, it’s fun for fans. And yes, recruits do get excited by uniforms when they’re on official visits.
But do you really want a recruit choosing a school based on their uniforms? Wouldn’t you rather have a player that’s committing because he believes in the vision of the program and the structure of the offensive/defensive units?
The succes Alabama’s had in recruiting, with the most basic uniforms in college football, proves that style on the field matters very little when it comes to landing the top high school talent in the nation.
I love a crisp looking uniform as much as anyone, but when it’s all said and done, the results on the field are all that really matters.
Featured image via Getty