Orange Watch: An orange-flavored take on the new Syracuse football uniforms

Item: When the official Nike press release touting the new Syracuse football uniforms unveiled last week includes terms such as “fully integrated uniform system” and “the influence of New York state serve(s) as an inspiration for Syracuse’s trio of new uniforms” one wonders what’s in the water at company headquarters in Beaverton, Ore? 

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A look at Syracuse’s new uniforms

We’ve been a longtime uniform fanatic, growing up documenting nuances of team’s garb well before the fantastic idea of writing about the minutia details of uniforms, logos, apparel, etc. was first published some 15 years ago, then moved successfully online into the 2000s with the advent of sites such as the initial creator Uni Watch from Brooklyn-based writer Paul Lukas (also a writer for ESPN.com), and Canadian-headquartered Sports Logos.net published by Chris Creamer.

Since then, there’s been a migration of uniform articles appearing on just about every name-brand sports website you can find online.

Orange Watch has had the pleasure of knowing both Lukas and Creamer, contributing content to those websites, and like thousands of others, appreciate, but don’t always agree with, the daily updates on all things uniform, including the Uni Watch take on the new Syracuse football uniforms a day after the April 16 unveiling (wisely held with a full agenda of activities at the easily accessible Destiny shopping/entertainment complex for maximum exposure – but where was the ex-player model wearing the orange helmet, blue jersey, orange pants (not seen) combination?).

» Related: Second year of Shafer era begins at Syracuse this weekend

As a college football uniform traditionalist, we’ve always appreciated the fact that Syracuse had long established its place of uniform recognition with an orange helmet (for most seasons with a single blue stripe down the middle) going back to year one (1949) of the Ben Schwartzwalder era, right through Scott Shafer’s rookie season (interrupted only by Frank Maloney’s decision to go with a white helmet between 1974-76) until those two-tone, blue-fading-to-orange models were worn five times in 2013, first appearing Sept. 21 against Tulane.

That orange helmet meant Syracuse football. Not a blue one, and certainly not a white helmet, as Maloney found out in a hailstorm of criticism in 1974 as he wanted to separate himself from the previous quarter century of SU football under Coach Ben. By Maloney’s fourth season (of seven years as head coach) the helmet was back to orange.

And, we all know in addition to the traditional orange, the two colors of the other new 2014 helmets in the various combinations are…blue and white.

The takeover of college athletic departments by the big apparel makers is a necessity in a budget-stretching era of schools supporting many non-revenue programs. The nearly year-long Nike “updating of the (school’s) brand identity” is as over-the-top as the verbiage in the official press release, along with the hard-to-read, new elongated jersey number font that these eyes have never seen, especially as the company describes the numeral style as “mimicking the height of New York City’s skyline” (you know, for being New York’s College Team).

How can this even be presented with a straight face?

But at the end of the day, and most importantly, the players and recruits love the new attire and (hint) we think the aforementioned traditional-looking orange helmet/pants, blue jersey combination will be a great contrast to the garnet and gold of  Florida State when the ‘Cuse hosts the defending national champions Oct. 11.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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