[Editor’s Note: Yesterday I raised the question of whether Auburn’s pants striping needs to match the helmet and sleeve striping. Many readers weighed in on this, but none more extensively than Casey Hart, who provided a minor manifesto on the subject. I’m running it today as a guest-written entry. Enjoy, discuss, etc. — PL]
By Casey Hart
I don’t think stripes always have to match. But if there is an opportunity to make them match, then they must, or it looks second-rate, like whoever’s in charge of ordering pays no attention to detail. You can’t have the stripes be that close to matching but not match. Florida has made great strides, matching all three main uni elements despite each having a different main color. The road unis use the same concept, even though the orange stripe on the pants is a little too thick.
A different thing that I find frustrating is when a team nails the concept on its home uniform but blows it on the road uni. Key examples: Ohio State (home [again, outside pant stripe is a little thick], away [I’d actually prefer to keep the gray on the jerseys with a stripe outside the black stripe on both the home and away models]) and the Packers (home, away). Keep in mind that these are clearly intentional flip-flopping of the home and road striping. They’re huge missed opportunities (especially in the case of Ohio State, which significantly changed its jersey striping in recent years), but not as bad as the Auburn uni, which just looks like a massive oversight.
What’s even worse is when stripe concepts don’t match. This mostly occurs when a team has new-age piping and color panels on the pants and jersey and traditional striping on the helmet, like South Carolina [whose stripes used to match — PL], Clemson, and Missouri. These teams have clearly decided that their helmet striping is too iconic to change. My opinion is if you’re willing to dress your players in one-color spacesuits, removing or changing the helmet stripes in order to match the rest of the uniform isn’t that big of a final step.
Perhaps the most disappointing example is at my alma mater, UNC, where they have found a cool, new way to match helmet and jersey striping — a small bit of vertical striping on the back of the neck — but have matched it up with pants that go against every concept established on the top half of the body.
Another really bad one is the Redskins. I’ve always hated the fact that they’ve gone with symmetrical striping on the helmet and asymmetrical striping on the pants. They had the opportunity to match things up with the introduction of the gold pants, which has created an awesome and coordinated bottom-half combo but has done nothing for the overall mish-mash. (I’d love it if they just switched the helmet stripes to match the new pants and socks.)
What I can live with when stripes don’t match but they’ve done that for seemingly forever, like the Blackhawks’ red uniform. (This could also apply to the Redskins, but their unis are so ugly that it’s hard to give them a pass.) The Blackhawks, incidentally, get it right on their white jersey combo and on the black alternate uni from a few years back.
Speaking of hockey, another example of a team that aims to have all its striping match is the Canucks. I love this, but they could make it perfect by widening the green stripe on the pants to better match both jerseys. The Bruins, meanwhile, are frustratingly close. When they came out with the awesome home jerseys a couple years back, they could have flip-flopped their home sock striping to match them, like their socks from back in the day, but they didn’t. And their road jersey/sock combo pulls an Auburn.
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Paul here. First foremost, big thanks to Casey for his excellent treatment of this topic. Good food for thought and discussion.
While there’s one set of matching stripes that I continue to be obsessed with, and while I agree that some non-matching stripes are rather confounding (the Blackhawks example that Casey cites is a good example), I find myself relatively untroubled by most of these inconsistencies. Personally, I think hockey stripes should always match, at least on “traditional” hockey uniforms, because they all have stripes in the same three places: sleeves, jersey hemline, socks. But in football, it’s a mixed bag — some helmets have stripes, some don’t. Same with sleeves, pants, and socks. Since the basic template varies so much, I don’t expect or need as much consistency.
But that’s just my take. I’ll be curious to see how people weigh in on this subject in today’s comments.
Finally, there’s this: I have confirmed that Auburn will definitely have new pants striping next season (plus they’ll also have “War Eagle” printed on the back of the pants — ugh). I don’t know if the new striping will match what we saw in that Under Armour commercial, but that seems like a pretty safe bet. I also don’t know if the new striping will appear in Monday’s game against Oregon, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
An American factory that still makes things, imagine that: Earlier this week, someone asked me, “Do you think Wilson has already made the footballs that’ll be used in the Super Bowl?” I said, “Probably. Seems like something they’d take care of way in advance, right?”
But on a whim, I put a call in to Wilson, where a PR rep reminded me of something I’d forgotten: The names of the two Super Bowl teams are stamped into the ball’s leather, so the Wilson factory in Ada, Ohio, won’t start making the balls until after the conference championship games on Jan. 23.
“Oh,” I said, “so I guess that factory will be jumping on Monday the 24th.”
Actually, as the PR person explained to me, the place will be jumping almost immediately after the final gun sounds on Sunday. A bunch of workers will come in to work that evening and watch the AFC championship game right there at the factory. They’ll have pizza and other food on hand, so they can have a little TV party. As soon as the game ends, which should be around 10pm, they’ll start making footballs. They’ll keep working until 6am, when another crew will come in to take over for them.
The TV party and the overnight shift are a Wilson tradition that’s been going on for years. They better order an extra pizza this time, though, because they’re going to have a guest: me.
Ada is sort of in the middle of nowhere, so I’ll fly to Columbus and drive nearly two hours from there. The result of all this will be an ESPN story that will run at some point during the run-up to the Super Bowl. I’ll probably have a video crew with me, although I’m not sure about that yet. Also not sure if I’ll be able to stay awake all the way until 6am, but we’ll see. Either way, should be fun. And if anyone at Wilson is reading this, I’m big on pepperoni and sun-dried tomatoes.
Contest reminder: Grey Flannel Auctions is giving away two gift certificates to the Uni Watch readers who come up with the best oddball-uni photos. Details here.
Yinzer Watch rained out: Doug Keklak reports that this weekend’s Yinzer Watch gathering has been cancelled. No makeup date has yet been announced.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Miami U. wore throwback helmets — with TV numbers on one side! — for last night’s Web-Hosting Services Bowl (with thanks to Adam Hainsfurther). … Oooh, check out this awesome bicycle typogram. Click on the image for a larger version (great find by Ryan Connelly). … This Dan Patrick interview with Pats defensive lineman Vince Wilfork includes a fairly extensive discussion of how Wilfork keeps his jersey tucked in (with thanks to Brett Crane). … Since they’re sold out, I guess you can all be forgiven for not getting me these socks for Xmas (you’re such a tease, Kirsten). … Dwayne Roloson, who was still wearing his Islanders mask on Tuesday, had switched to a plain white Lightning mask on Wednesday. He presumably has a new custom mask in the works. … “Just saw some preview pictures for the Rangers 2010-11 yearbook,” says A.J. Frey. “Seems like Brian Boyle was wearing Michael DelZotto’s gloves for his pics.” … Matt Powers notes that the current issue of SI includes two NFL playoff graphics that incorrectly show a Colts helmet with a white facemask, which the team hasn’t worn since 1994. … Did you know there’s a blog devoted to football concussions? There is — and the guy who runs it is asking for help in identifying the helmets worn by each NFL player who’s sustained a concussion this season (big thanks to David Highhill). … What’s with the blue headbands? It’s part of NBA Fit Week. … A minor league hockey goalie has a mask that’s a tribute to Johnny Cash (with thanks to Matthew Newman). … Jamel McLean of Xavier wears glasses on the court. “I saw him at the foul line with glasses on the top of his head, so maybe he takes them ‘off’ when he’s at the line,” says Matthew Dowell. … A writer for The Oregonian interviewed me yesterday afternoon. Here’s the transcript. … Oh wow, check out these Rawlings keychains (nice find by Ed Lafayette. … Here’s a fairly rudimentary piece on college football pride decals. … “I was watching The Mentalist last night,” says Aaron McHargue. “One character was wearing a track suit whose chest logo appeared to have gotten a haircut. The funny part is the iconic sleeve stripes give it away.” … I’m meeting my friend Mr. Finewine for breakfast this morning at the venerable Barney Greengrass in Manhattan — and look, there’s even a uni-related tie-in. That’s from their 100th-anniversary celebration in the summer of ’08 (thanks, Kirsten).