When it comes to our football uniforms, I've been pretty vocal in the past about some of the abject stupidity I see around the program, with the poor quality of the uniforms we've worn in the recent past, the weak execution, or the general laziness from Chianti Dan and Adidas when it comes to UCLA football (prior discussions on the poor quality of our current and recently past uniforms here, here, here, here, here, and here). Never mind the complete and total failure by Adidas to design a uniform that features a proper UCLA stripe or Chianti Dan's inability to insist that Adidas do it properly (it's certainly possible: Nike's new-era uniforms often feature the same "new-age" fit and technology with proper shoulder striping).
But with that said, whenever we've rolled out an alternate uniform, there have been two consistent truths: (1) I've loved the new uniform and (2) they always featured the old school Clarendon numbers, instead of the awkward used-by-everyone-else block numbers. Which begs the question: why does UCLA continue to use block numbering?
First, let's take a look at the alternate uniforms we've rolled out over the recent past, which began with the very awesome Gary Beban 1967 throw-back uniforms we wore against Washington in 2009, followed by the now infamous all-white alternates worn against U$C last year, followed by the all-navy blue "L.A. Nights" alternate worn last night against Arizona:
Every one of those uniforms needs to be worked into our regular rotation. The old-school throw-backs should be worn at least once a year, and we should work in the alternates on a semi-regular basis, or at the minimum, work in components of the alternates (for example, use the standard gold helmets and pants with the L.A. Nights alternate jersey). And those Clarendon numbers look pretty sweet, don't they?
Now, our football team has had some pretty sweet heritage in the old school uniforms featuring Clarendon numbers. Gary Beban won our only Heisman in that style. Cade McNown and DeShaun Foster lit the Pac-10 conference up week-in and week-out in Clarendon style uniforms, and dammit, it just looks cool:
Quick side note: we really need Adidas to get our pants the right shade of gold. Look at how much sharper DeShaun looks compared to Cade and Gary. Just saying. But I digress: the Clarendon font is pretty much the standard for our football uniform for most of our program's history and a quick glance through eBay finds you the following jerseys for sale:
And just because I like the opportunity to use images, it should be noted that the Clarendon font isn't unique to the football program. A lot of our other athletic teams have used or are currently using the Clarendon numbering font (and looking pretty good):
Sure, Don't get me wrong: there's nothing necessarily wrong with block numbering. In fact, we've used it at other times in our program's history and a lot of former UCLA greats have done pretty well in the Blue and Gold with block numbering:
That being said, the Clarendon font just looks cool. It's something different: the Clarendon font is something unique to UCLA, whereas block numbering is used by pretty much every other program in the nation, with one very notable exception:
Yes, the guys who can't wear the same uniform twice in one year, Nike-funded hype machine. But if anyone knows anything about how to build a brand and name recognition, it's the guys at the Swoosh. Oregon, unlike any other team in the country, has a very unique uniform numbering font. Yes, it's ugly. But it is theirs and theirs alone. When you see it, you immediately recognize it as Oregon. In fact, it has it's own name: Bellotti Bold.
No, I'm not saying we need to emulate the Ducks and roll out a new crazy uniform each and every week, but a transition back to the Clarendon font is not only tipping our hats to our football uniform heritage, but it makes UCLA's uniform all the more unique. Now, if we can only get Adidas and Chianti Dan to return a true UCLA shoulder stripe, then we'd be set.
So, what do you think? Is it time to move back to Clarendon numbers or do we stick with the generic block numbers? Fire away with your thoughts, feelings, opinions on last night's pretty awesome L.A. Nights alternate, the other alternates we've used, and our current uniforms.