BOISE — “Look good, feel good, play good.”
Boise State players uttered that phrase multiple times in the week leading up to last Saturday’s opener against Georgia. In their brand-new, all-white uniforms, the Broncos did just that in their 35-21 win over the Bulldogs.
Certainly, winning games has helped Boise State gain a national audience more than anything, but with that, the Broncos have been one of a handful of teams to not only play in big season openers, but also do it with a new look thanks to Nike.
“They’ve got to help in some way,” receiver Tyler Shoemaker said.
Even those watching the game who know little about the play on the field can have an opinion on one thing – how the teams look. Oregon has hundreds of possible uniform combinations, and their attention-grabbing uniforms have been, according to many, part of the rise of a historically mediocre program in a state without a ton of high school talent.
This week, five-star high school basketball recruit Archie Goodwin eliminated Baylor from his list of finalists for his signature, saying “when you got ugly colors like that, you gotta be Nike.” Baylor is an Adidas school.
For Boise State, being put into unique-looking uniforms at least once a year in big games and also during the season when it calls for it (orange uniforms on ESPN, anyone?), that catches eyes. Running back Doug Martin said if he was still in high school, seeing Boise State in uniforms like those worn in Atlanta “probably would” be part of his decision-making process.
“Any time you’re wearing the best of the best, it’s definitely going to help with the recruits,” linebacker J.C. Percy said.
Best of the best
Boise State is still a school using an antiquated locker room, but what is in those lockers is top of the line. Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms, which the Broncos wore last year against Virginia Tech, and again against Georgia, are the latest and greatest in football technology. Percy said he has never felt more comfortable in football pants than the ones he wore against Georgia.
“They do actually feel different — they’re lighter than usual, they have built-in pads, so you don’t need to use yours,” defensive end Shea McClellin said. “They’re pretty legit. I think we’re privileged to be one of those schools.”
Coupling the Broncos’ name with the world’s largest athletics company is bound to draw attention to the program from viewers and consumers alike — the Broncos are 38th nationally in merchandise sales and have increased revenue from merchandise more than tenfold in the last 10 years.
The Bulldogs’ uniforms were met with far more resistance than those of Boise State’s all-whites, which had a positive reception from fans and players alike. Georgia had worn red helmets since 1964, but went for silver ones against the Broncos. Don’t expect to see them again any time soon.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said they unveiled the new look two weeks before the game so “everybody can get over it.” Sixty-four percent of responses to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll said they either “hate them” or “don’t really like them, but it’s for the players.”
“Coach should be fired. Not for losing, but letting his players wear the ugliest uniforms in the U.S.!,” a fan named “Jose” wrote immediately on the site after the loss.
The latest count is around 500 for the possible combinations of uniforms the Ducks could wear — there are green, black, yellow, white and chrome helmets, plus the same options in pants and jerseys. The Ducks even had yet another look for their opener against LSU — all black, but with bright green shoelaces and gloves — some called it a “Duck Vader” look.
Oregon’s Heisman Trophy finalist, LaMichael James, said while in high school in Texas, he first noticed their uniforms, then decided to dig up more information on the program, and the rest is history.
“It gives fans something to look forward to. I know I used to do that with Oregon, and I think we’re getting close to that stature,” Percy said.
Though the Under Armour the Terrapins wore in a Labor Day win were not universally loved, their state flag-inspired getups did what few football fans typically do — talk about Maryland.
The University of Maryland was the second-most searched phrase on Google that day, and coach Randy Edsall’s Twitter followers went from 2,500 to 4,500 in five days.
“No, I would not wear them if I had to,” McClellin said.