On July 24, the Miami University football team unveiled its new uniforms to the public in honor of the 125th season of the football program. Much of the response from general public to these uniforms has been positive and there has been a palpable aura of excitement surrounding the 2013 iteration of the RedHawks since the unveiling. However, there are a number of issues about the uniforms that have not been adequately addressed.
First off, the gaudiness of the uniforms only serves as a distraction and takes away from the game that is being played. While the flashy uniforms may grab potential recruits attention for a while, the uniforms will not land recruits by themselves if the product on the field is not up to par. Also, if an FBS football program is banking on recruits coming to their school solely because of new uniforms, it will, in all likelihood, be an unsuccessful couple of seasons.
Even if a recruit’s decision on where to go to school is solely based on new uniforms, the program in question will probably have trouble retaining him since programs all over the country are taking part in this jersey arms race and the recruit will be likely to transfer to the school with the brightest uniforms.
As an example, the University of Oregon first debuted their current uniform template in 2006. Until the 2008 season in which they went 10-3, the Ducks were not getting very many top 25 recruiting classes or much national media exposure because the on-field product was not very good-a combined 15-11 in 2006 and 2007.
The same could be said about the University of Maryland, who debuted new uniforms in 2011 and would go on to finish the season 2-10.
The impracticality of the uniforms showcases some critical design flaws. As was discussed in a piece on SI.com, the place on the shoulders where it should say “MIAMI” reads as “MIMI” as the “A” is split up and is difficult to make out from a distance.
It is also pointed out that the “feathers” on the helmet are also difficult to make out and look like flames if one doesn’t know what the detail on the helmet is supposed to represent.
Also, the uniforms represent a trend in contemporary college football where the programs try to impress potential recruits with cosmetic features, as opposed to actually marketing the program and the school to high school athletes.
The tribute to the past the uniforms are supposed to have can also be interpreted as not a tribute at all. The decadence of the uniforms is the antithesis of the Latin inscription on the Miami Seal: “To Accomplish Rather Than To Be Conspicuous.”
Instead of putting the spotlight on the potential on this upcoming season, the program and the Athletic Department decided put the spotlight on the team by making a cosmetic change to the program via the uniforms and not focusing on the on-field progress that is being made, a move that is uncharacteristic of the university’s history and disregards the effort that is being put forth into bringing the program back into prominence in the MAC.
With that said, the new uniforms have seemingly helped revitalize interest in the program after a couple of disappointing seasons and is part of the efforts of the new administration in Athletic Department to make sweeping changes to Miami Athletics in the coming years. Whether these changes will be better for the programs involved remains to be seen.