With the University of
Nike Oregon Ducks pushing out new football uniform combinations and looks faster than Uncle Phil can write a check, there's been an increasing amount of chatter about the effect new, hip, flashy uniforms have on recruiting efforts, especially in today's cut-throat recruiting landscape.
Mike Bellotti, back in 2006 when he was still at the helm in Eugene, noted that the new gear was a recruiting asset. Reportedly, Oregon players had a hand in designing the 2010 uniforms and at lease one Nike executive indicated that the uniforms were actively being used as a recruiting pitch. As Michael Rosenberg at SI.com noted (emphasis added):
[M]ost of Knight's spending is about recruiting. He spends to excess in order to impress high school kids. In the mixed-up world of the NCAA, schools can spend $50 million on gold-plated mouthpiece holders, but if they give a kid $1,000 to pay his mom's mortgage, it's a violation.
Now, obviously, uniforms don't make or break recruiting, and very few recruits are basing their decision predominately on the uniform a team wears. We know this to be true because schools with very traditional uniforms, such as Alabama, LSU, Texas, etc., are still recruiting at the very top of the college world. That said, there is something to be said for infusing something new in the uniform mix. Kids like flash and when everything else is equal, the school with that extra bit is going to get the signature:
Do high school kids really choose a college because of this stuff? Hello? Have you ever met a high school kid? What 18-year-old wouldn't love having vents in his locker to dry his pads after practice? Ten years ago, Oregon noticed that kids would visit Eugene just to see the facilities, even if they weren't going to sign with the Ducks. Oregon kept spending, players kept visiting, and eventually the athletes started to come.
In fact, UCLA football's uniform woes are somewhat well-known, especially here at BN. Of course, Paul Lukas' very good UniWatch put the most recent version of UCLA's football uniforms on blast. What's particularly sad is that other media outlets, outside of BN or the uniform-centric Mr. Lukas, are well-aware of the Bruins' sometimes woeful uniform selections:
I understand that UCLA is trying to go with a more traditional look, but times are changing. Programs like Oregon are changing the game and using new uniforms as a recruiting pitch.
Time to update, UCLA.
Now that's sad when the guys at Bleacher Report, of all places, know full well that your alma mater's uniform situation flat-out sucks.
Now, I'm not calling for any crazy changes to UCLA's uniforms or to go full-blown Oregon mode, but a new wrinkle, in addition to our traditional home and away uniforms, would be a move in the right direction. For example, if you recall, UCLA rolled out Gary Beban style throwback uniforms against Washington. As Nestor put it before their debut:
It would be nothing short of awesome. Let's hope they get it done.
Naturally, people went wild for them, and UCLA was able to turn the fan enthusiasm into a merchandising opportunity, selling Gary Beban's #16 throwback at the UCLA Store. Of course, Morgan Center being Morgan Center, after the lambasting the Trogans gave the Bruins two seasons ago in them, we've yet to see the throwbacks again. What's crazy is that the Beban throwback isn't even the only possibility: the Bruins could roll out a Cade McNown era throwback (with the cursive numerals), a Troy Aikman era throwback, or if they wanted to get real creative, a Jackie Robinson era throwback.
We don't need to go Nike Pro Combat/Oregon-esque to build some excitement and hype around our uniforms. UCLA can keep it classic and utilize the throwbacks to both build excitement among the players and younger fans while simultaneously using it for obvious merchandising opportunities (who wouldn't want to buy one of those classic throwbacks?) and as a platform to educate and remind people of UCLA's football history.
However, Morgan Center (as to be expected) has sat on its hands, and unlike their counterparts at Arizona State and U$C, have failed to think outside the box in finding ways to generate some excitement around this program.
Fire away with your uniform thoughts, suggestions, and ideas.