Item: The point continues to be debated on where in the pecking order should a program’s closet full of uniform combinations help determine a 17-18-19 year old recruit’s choice of where he’ll play college football, but to one Orange player, there’s no doubt about the old adage that “clothes make the man.”
Cam Lynch is convinced.
The search-and-make-tackles SU senior linebacker thoroughly believes that once the team got the go ahead from Coach Shafer and Nike came calling in the spring of 2013, resulting in last season’s seven uniform combinations worn in the 13 games, including sporting a non-Orange helmet for the first time since 1976, that the fortunes of the Syracuse program are in great shape with current and future prospects as they eye the new various ‘Cuse uniform ensembles that Nike has concocted for this season and beyond, during their recruitment process.
“It’s (the uniform design) more up to date,” Lynch said at the ACC Media Kickoff event last month. “When I first got here we didn’t even have Nike socks (completing the designer’s branded head-to-toe look). We had good socks, but not Nike socks. It’s a new era now (under coach Shaf), we’ve moving on to where we now have three different uniforms, it’s catching up with other teams, so I enjoy it a lot.”
It was with great fanfare and visual evidence at April’s public unveiling of the primary blue, white, and steel grey trio of looks that Nike had taken its creative hands around the Syracuse brand and transformed it into a hit among the constituency that counts the most, the players, while achieving a range of mixed emotions among many students, alumni, fans, school employees, and uniform detail aficionados, many of whom are sprinkled among members of all four of those parties with a vested interest in Orange football.
The latter segment, in particular, was instantly bewildered about the jersey’s not-seen-before
number font that according to Nike: “Custom numbers appear taller and more narrow, mimicking the height of New York City’s skyline. The numbers also feature a unique 44-degree linear “V” pattern.”
Which jumps out as nothing more than corporate design gibberish, when plainly speaking the numbers on this season’s jerseys look different than anything we’ve seen before, and are open to one’s own interpretation.
Wrote Paul Lukas on his popular Uni Watch website the day after the April 16 unveiling:
“The numbers and the explanation for them reflect two of Nike’s core tropes: (1) Every team must have its own custom number font, and (2) every uniform element must have an underlying “story.” The numerals that supposedly evoke the NYC skyline (trust me: they don’t), the obsession with “44″ (because of Ernie Davis) — it’s the kind of mythmaking that makes people go oooh and ahhh at an unveiling (or at least makes them stop saying, “What the (f_ _k) is the deal with those weird numbers?”), but nobody remembers that stuff once the ball is snapped, at which point you’re just wearing a weird-looking number design. I suppose if some kid gets out a protractor and checks to see if the diagonal lines on the numerals of his Syracuse jersey are really angled at 44 degrees, then Nike will have succeeded in advancing the cause of youth mathematics, so at least there’s that. Otherwise, the whole thing is embarrassing.”
One knowledgeable uniform critic aside, it’s the players that make the program, and the players like what they’ll be wearing.
“It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s what’s in right now,” Lynch said in explaining how the lure of a rising program in the ACC with multiple Nike uniform combinations to boot, translates into previously targeted recruits getting excited watching the program from both afar and on campus visits.
“The recruiting is definitely helped out (by new uniforms). When kids are watching us on TV they’ll be saying, ‘Oh man, look at those jerseys, they’re awesome.’ Guys here (players from the other 13 ACC teams at the media kickoff), when we were putting on the jerseys for the photo shoot said, ‘They’re awesome.’ So if actual players are saying that, imagine what kids at home are saying.”
And Lynch’s favorite of the new trio?
“The grey uniform. The grey uniform hands down. I swear, when we presented them (the uniforms) to the team that was the one I said is my favorite one. We’re using it for a home jersey as well, so I look forward to wearing it.”
Here’s Orange Watch’s “fearless” pre-season prediction of nine uniform combinations
to be worn in the 12 regular season games this season in this order – helmet-jersey-pants:
(O=orange, B=blue, W=white, G=grey)
Louisville-O-B-O (special ‘Orange-Out’ game)
N.C. State-O-B-B Duke-B-B-B Pittsburgh-W-W-B