[Editor’s Note: Today’s entry marks the site debut of new Uni Watch bench coach Bryan Redemske, who’s found a uni-related angle on an interesting topic. I’ll meet you down at the Ticker. — PL]
By Bryan Redemske
When schools introduce “creative” new uniforms, some apologist always says, “Yeah, but the kids really like it, so it helps with recruiting.” And sure enough, you can now see that concept — uniforms being used as recruiting tools — playing out in today’s media guides.
Now, back in the dark ages — say, anything before the 1990s — a college sports media guide was just that: a guide, for the media. Every sport at a school had one, and it included basic biographical and statistical information on the team and its players. They were typically digest-sized, contained few pictures, and were almost always boring. But the media needed guidance, and this was where they got it. As a guy who has relied upon a media guide or two in his day, I can attest that having that information handy is a lifesaver.
But then desktop publishing came along, and the internet recruiting boom began. Suddenly, the humble media guide wasn’t just for the media. It became a place to showcase a program’s past — or its goals for the future — complete with slick pages and computerized graphics. Somewhere along the line, football guides became known as media and recruiting guides.
And then things got really nuts. Guides got bigger, shinier, and loaded with more useless crap every year, until Missouri unleashed this thing in 2004. Maybe they’d been emboldened after their 2003 guide was judged the best in Division I-A, or maybe they just got carried away. In any case, the 2004 guide, weighing in at 614 pages and four pounds it was, and still is, the largest media guide in history. Every player, even the redshirt freshmen, was given at least two pages, including a full-body shot, biographical information in large type, and a map showing their hometown.
What’s interesting about all this is the recruiting stuff — specifically, the 26 pages devoted to the team’s equipment. Every item of clothing issued to players is listed, along with the technical description and what appears to be Mizzou’s own indexing number.
For example, after practicing in your Nike Stretch Woven Football Pants, including Dri-Fit 5 Pocket Pro Girdle, wouldn’t it be nice to slip into something more relaxing? Say, the black Varsity Block Survivor Tee, paired with light gray Hail Mary Shorts. Or perhaps the always comfortable Off Tackle Pant and Sueded Microfiber V-Neck? The possibilities are endless — and also slightly ridiculous.
In 2005, the NCAA finally forced media guides to go on a diet, but Mizzou still found plenty of room to tout their uniforms home, road), helmets and facemasks, shoes (and there’s more), T-shirts (more), shoulder pads, gloves, jackets, headwear, off-field clothing, technical apparel, and polo polo shirts.
It’s safe to say that the media has little if any use for this information (well, except maybe for Paul). But it’s an interesting peek into all of the stuff college football players get, and also the lengths schools will go to use their uniforms to sell their program.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Zzzzzzzzz. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Those Akron uni numbers sure am big. … Kenn Tomasch notes that ECHL officials are wearing a memorial sleeve patch for linesman Ryan Birmingham, who was killed in a car accident last May. … Starting next season, MLB base coaches will have to wear helmets. They’ll also have to sit in child-safety seats when riding to the stadium and hold the manager’s hand when crossing the street. … Kansas is an Adidas school, but apparently Mark Mangino didn’t get the memo (good spot by Alex Chiu). … Interesting find by Jim McCue, who reports that Pepperdine’s practice jerseys have the “NE” printed in a different color — it stands for “no excuses.” … More cool sports-based maps from Bill Turianski here and here (for more, check out his site). … Not a good idea. … Think Oregon has a lot of uni combos? Check out Gateway High, near Pittsburgh, which has worn at least six different looks this season: one, two, three, four, five, six (compiled by Nate Budziszewski) … And while we’re at it, James Robertson reports that the Anchorage Seawolves have five different uniforms: one, two, three, four, five. … Some very odd socks on display at the Iowa State Volleyball Tournament (with thanks to Jesse Gavin). … Terrell Owens has been hit with a towel fine. … You know about old-style “base ball” games with 19th-century rules and attire, but here’s something I hadn’t seen before: a vintage-era basketball cage match, complete with old-school uniforms (with thanks to Black Fives honcho Claude Johnson).