The saga of the uniform for the UCLA Bruins football team continues.
Adidas originally unveiled its UCLA techfit jersey last year, as the team was preparing to take on Oregon. The rollout occurred with great fanfare as the company sought Shakespearean actors to promote the new look. The touted benefits of the jersey were its trendy look, the breathable material, as well as the tightness and stretchability of the jersey.
During the game, the benefits of the new jerseys were immediately evident, as the UCLA offense had plenty of time to breathe and stretch on the sidelines.
The techfit was actually a brainchild of Head Athletic Performance Coach Mike Linn, who partnered up with the renowned fitness consulting company Hans & Franz LLC to capture the essence of their vision for a new uniform.
"We were looking for a way to motivate our guys to get into football shape," said Linn. "What better way to do that than to show them what they look like on TV."
With the looming launch of the snug techfit jerseys, linemen were not the only ones to get on board with the fitness program, as clearly no one would be spared.
Despite the successful launch, many were still unsatisfied with both the look and purported benefits of the techfit jersey, even generating some snarky comments from extremist fan blogs. Surprisingly, the uniforms worn by the defense against Houston and Texas generated few comments.
Lest it be called stubborn and out of touch, Adidas went back to the lab in a furious attempt to satisfy Isaac Mizrahi and the Bruin fan base. After all, if they could achieve such success with the Notre Dame and Michigan throwback jerseys, surely they could find a way to satisfy fashion-conscious Angelinos.
The answer came from the most unlikely of places.While on a campus visit, the head designer for Adidas, Ken Kardooshian, was reading about the Boise State Broncos team and the smurf turf. Supposedly, the team gets an advantage because their uniform blends in with the turf, confusing opponents.
Clearly, the Rose Bowl would never agree to move to a true blue grass. But what if it was reversed? What if it was the uniform that matched the turf?
Ken quickly ran down to the Botany building on UCLA's South Campus, which any Bruin will tell you, is not exactly teeming with UCLA football fanatics. But Ken had something else in mind. He had heard earlier about research efforts to improve camouflage for US troops.
"It was high-tech stuff, things you see in movies, I never thought it would come in handy," recalled Ken.
Earlier this year, UCLA researchers had designed prototypes of military outfits made of leaves and tree bark. Somehow, Ken made the most unlikely of connections.
"I figured, hey, maybe they can make one made out of grass!"
It wasn't long before the company had designed its masterpiece: the grassfit jersey:
Awesome graphics by Telemachus.
The advantages of the new jersey are astounding.
First, it completely blends in with the grass on the field, while working as a natural coolant during the hot Pasadena days.
Second, on rainy days, the jersey will be extremely slippery, which is a tremendous advantage for a power running team like UCLA.
Third, defenders better learn to tackle UCLA well, because a handful of jersey will only give a handful of grass.
Finally, it provides a benefit that will bring a smile to Division II athletic directors all over the country, and certainly to Dan Guerrero.
"Ken has managed to make UCLA football uniforms sustainable," said Guerrero. "Not only is it less expensive to grow the uniforms than to buy them, but this also allows UCLA to maintain its social image by reducing both its carbon footprint and dependence on sweatshops."
Incredibly, this could also allow UCLA to keep playing in the Rose Bowl and brings a good alternative to the Cupcake Strategy designed by Guerrero just last month.
One obstacle remains, as purists will point out that the grassfit jerseys cannot be made in UCLA's colors. However Guerrero reminds us that UCLA has historically had several colors, from powderkeg blue, to navy blue, royal blue, baby blue and true blue.
"Now, we will also have green blue."
The jerseys will be available at Home Depot and guaranteed worm-free.