New Nike Pro Combat gear restrained
Last year Nike rented out a hall in Manhattan and did a live unveiling of its so-called Pro Combat college football uniforms (a name that still rankles, since college players are neither professional nor combat soldiers). This year Nike is unveiling them primarily via the web. Lower promotional budgets? Hype fatigue? In any case, it makes it easier to review them, so let's take a look.
Just like last year, we'll rate these uniforms on Uni Watch's exclusive ROIG Rage scale, which stands for how vigorously a typical middle-aged alumnus of the school would be Rolling Over In his Grave after seeing the design. (Of course, a middle-aged alumnus is probably alive, not in his grave, but Uni Watch never lets inconvenient facts get in the way of a snappy acronym.) A ROIG Rage factor of 1 means the design is fairly inoffensive to old-school sensibilities; a factor of 10 means at least half the boosters just stopped payment on their checks.
Here we go:
When it will be worn: Oct. 15, against Michigan.
Uni Watch says: Hmmm, green, black and gold -- looks almost Oregon-ish from a distance, no? ... Too bad about the tramp stamp. ... Aside from that, not a bad design on its own terms, but a gold helmet and black pants just do not say, "Michigan State." ... Wouldn't be a bad look for Baylor -- maybe the Bears could wear this next season? ...
ROIG Rage factor: 5
When it will be worn: Oct. 29, against Wisconsin.
Uni Watch says: Helmet design hearkens to the padded-crown helmet that the Buckeyes wore in the late 1960s. ... What, no two-tone facemask to match the helmet stripe, like UGA wore? ... This fetish for battleship gray in college football is really getting out of hand, eh? ... Kinda like the way the collar tone feeds into the shoulder stripes, though. ... Don't understand Nike's new habit of having pants stripes begin several inches down on hip, instead of right at the waistline. Makes the stripe look incomplete. ... Overall, not really good or bad -- just blah. ... ROIG Rage factor: 3
When it will be worn: Oct. 22, against Auburn.
Uni Watch says: Pretty sedate, eh? Looks more like a standard Nike pit-stain template than a special one-timer. ... Subtle tiger stripes on the uni numbers are one of those details that will never show up on TV and are therefore just designed for appeal at retail. ... No getting around it: Gold shoes look spiffy. Better not lose in them, though, or that gold will seem seriously tarnished. ... ROIG Rage factor: 1
When it will be worn: Nov. 27, against Notre Dame.
Uni Watch says: Yeesh, what a mess. The striped undersleeves are nice, but an old-school touch like that looks seriously out of place in a new-school design like this one. ... Black helmet just does not work. ... And what is the deal with those notches on the uni numbers? Looks like they're growing thorns. ... ROIG Rage factor: 6.5
When it will be worn: Dec. 8, against Navy.
Uni Watch says: Stencil font is cool, although it'll give the spotters and officials fits. ... Aside from that, nothing to complain about here. Love the contrasting undersleeves, and the muted socks/shoes are interesting. ... ROIG Rage factor: 0
When it will be worn: Dec. 8, against Army.
Uni Watch says: Wow -- nicely done. Love the anchor logo on the helmet, and even the white belt feels vaguely nautical. ... One quibble: The black block-shadowing on the uni numbers feels a bit gratuitous. ... That Army/Navy game is gonna be some serious eye candy. ... ROIG Rage factor: 0
All in all, a remarkably restrained set. Could the college football design pendulum be swinging back toward normalcy? Or has Nike just decided to leave the wacky stuff to Under Armour?
Paul Lukas always has any uniform news covered. If you liked this, you'll probably like his daily Uni Watch web site, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.
ESPN.com: Help | Press | Advertise on ESPN.com | Sales Media Kit | Interest-Based Ads | Corrections | Contact Us | Site Map | Jobs at ESPN