Shades of gray for Syracuse?

Jim Boeheim might be surrounded by lots of gray instead of customary orange in the coming weeks. Photo by Getty Images

The great Paul Lukas, who made it OK to take on this uniform obsession with Uni-Watch, has started up a bit of an uproar today when he said there is word the Syracuse Orange may opt for a gray look in the upcoming weeks.

Rumors are it could come against archrival Georgetown on Feb. 8.

The Orange have not been shy about changing uniforms in recent years as they were one of the first to go with the space-age type silver lining along the shoulders. The variations have always been slight, with the exception of a blue alternate the team wore against Notre Dame a few years back.

The fact this change may come against Georgetown may only upset the fanbase more because of the Hoyas’ inkling toward that plain color. We’ll reserve judgement until the uniforms actually make their debut on the court.

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Gray Power?

Here we have it, the first post from a contributor. This one comes from a good friend of mine, Alex, who can give a better perspective on the Oklahoma State uniform situation. He attended the school for two years for grad school. Here is his deeper view on the Cowboys’ recent uniform changes.

Oklahoma State receiver Michael Harrison helped the Cowboys begin their gray trend this season in the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. Photo by Associated Press

Before the 2006 NCAA football season, the University of Oregon unveiled its 384 different uniform combinations that would forever change college football.  Call it jealousy, or just an overwhelming desire to be the same as their peers (a character flaw that is prevalent in our society), but since then, other college football teams have decided the simple distinction of “home” and “road” uniforms were obsolete.  This has led to a rash of teams trying to outdo (see Arizona State) or out-weird (see Maryland) other teams.

That brings us to my alma mater, Oklahoma State, who, backed by seemingly unlimited funds from oil-tycoon-turned-wind-power-guru T. Boone Pickens, unveiled a uniform combination that, while not as egregious as Oregon’s, is still nonetheless perplexing.  Using the Oklahoma State Combo Creator, fans can choose between four sets of pants (gray, black, orange and white), four different jerseys (gray, black, orange and white), and three different helmet colors (black, orange and gray).  While some regard this as a way to put OSU on the map (as if an AP #5 ranking doesn’t do the trick), lost in the cornucopia of uni-combos is the idea that Oklahoma State (and arguably along with other teams), have lost their identity.

You don’t have to attend grad school in Stillwater to know that the town simply loves orange.  The color is as common as dandelions in the spring. At any and all OSU event, the cheer that is most common is simple: one side of the stadium yells “Orange!” while the other side attempts to outdo them by yelling back “Power!”.  Students are not encouraged but expected to wear orange to games, and wearing any other color, no matter what the weather, makes one stand out (and not in a good way).  So, what is curious to me (and to perhaps many other OSU fans) is why Oklahoma State’s uniforms, with all their national attention, a Top 5 ranking, and an offense that can seemingly score points even while sleep, has yet to feature orange in 2011.

Two seasons ago, Oklahoma State football debuted an all-black look for their Thursday night ESPN showdown with then-conference rival Colorado.  The black jerseys and pants, coupled with white helmets with the black “OSU” were met with mixed results in Stillwater, but looked neat nonetheless under the lights in front of a prime time audience.  But OSU followed the tradition of orange over white at home, and white over orange on the road that season, with the exception of their all orange look for Homecoming (which is, as advertised, the best Homecoming celebration in the country).  In 2010, OSU again donned the all-black getup for their yearly Thursday night game, this time against Texas A&M in a 38-35 thriller.  Despite their 2-0 record in the black, OSU stuck with its regular road home combination.  That is, until their game at Kansas, when they wore their road whites with black pants for the first time since 1994.

Justin Blackmon and Oklahoma State kept up their tradition of black on a Thursday night earlier this season against Arizona. It was slightly different from past years because of the orange numbering and lettering on the helmet. Photo by Getty Images

And thus, it started.  The idea that the orange and white simply was not good enough and that black and gray needed to take a more prominent role, giving birth to the highly questionable uniforms they sport in 2011.  Let’s review:  their opening game against UL-Layfette saw the debut of gray jerseys with white and pants and helmets.  Game two, on ESPN’s Thursday Night prime time slot, featured the return of the all black and the white helmets.  Their third game against Tulsa, played in the early hours of the morning thanks to Oklahoma’s signature tornado warnings (I actually survived a few when I was out there) saw the Fighting Gundys in white helmets and jerseys matched with black pants.  The gray helmets and pants, matched with white jerseys, made their debut in College Station last Saturday against A&M.

So, where’s the orange?  Sure it’s in the numbers and trims, but that still doesn’t mean it’s featured.  Even in what the Oklahoma press called Mike Gundy’s signature win, OSU’s signature color, orange, was hardly visible.

Sure, new jerseys are great, and they certainly create a buzz for a program, but at what cost?  A team’s mainstay is their uniforms, which in turn, helps to create their identity for fans, alums and a national audience.  Besides, a team doesn’t need all kinds crazy uniform combinations  to garner national attention.  Just look at these two teams.

Week 4 College Football Review: Cowboy Down

Oklahoma State cornerback Brodrick Brown helped the Cowboys rally in the second half on Saturday with this interception, but they sure looked bad doing it. Photo by Getty Images.

Stillwater, Okla., is a different sort of place for someone who has spent the vast majority of his life in the Northeast.

In two trips there, I have learned a few things, and here they are.

The state of Oklahoma is very flat; apparently using forks to eat barbecue and cake is the sign of a wuss; in life, I should “play the game,”; getting a first down is nearly as exciting as a touchdown; and chief among them … Orange Power.

The chant of “Orange Power” reverberates through the stands of Boone Pickens Stadium on most Saturdays in the fall. There are even shirts in the various gift shops, displaying this very phrase, and it all comes from the orange jerseys their beloved Cowboys wear for home games.

However, this season, it seems like Oklahoma State has abandoned that very concept with their uniforms.

The Cowboys did make a roaring comeback to defeat Texas A&M on the road in the game of the day yesterday. OK State could now be on their way to its first Big 12 title, but that doesn’t really matter here, let’s examine their uniforms.

Before the season started, Oklahoma State announced they would be introducing a new line of uniforms, complete with this uni-builder. While some of the combinations have their merit (mostly because they include orange), the gray-white-gray combination they went with Saturday was terrible.

Oklahoma State has seemed to totally abandon orange in their uniform scheme. Granted there was orange in the lettering of the helmet and in the numbers, but it’s not enough. The standard Oklahoma State uniform should have orange shirts for home games and orange pants for away games.

This season, the Cowboys have yet to wear orange of any sort in their first four games. The first game saw a gray jersey for a home game, the second, a black jersey for a Thursday night home game, the third, black pants for an away game and then yesterday’s monstrosity.

The results thus far have been more than productive, but I have to wonder what the chants of “Orange Power” sound like at Boone Pickens Stadium when the team has clearly abandoned this concept.

A few other teams made a splash in the uniform world on Saturday and here are your weekly quick hits:

Virginia Tech running back David Wilson looked like a member of the Cleveland Browns against Marshall on Saturday. Photo by Associated Press

  • Virginia Tech resembled the Cleveland Browns in their victory over Marshall. The Hokies went with this same look in the Orange Bowl last season. It’s a little jarring, but overall the look works.
  • Arizona State continued to change every week, but this week’s ensemble was more of a return to their usual color scheme. It certainly worked as they dominated USC for a huge Pac-12 victory.
  • Oregon went back to what could be considered their standard road uniforms of white shirt and green pants with a green helmet. The Ducks must have read this blog where I begged them to go back to a green helmet at some point, much appreciated.
  • West Virginia’s all-yellow look was fine, and it seems like the Mountaineers might be going with the yellow shirts as a permanent look since that is all they have worn at home so far this season. Just no yellow helmets please.
  • Staying in the Big East, I like what South Florida is doing this season. Saturday’s look was no exception. It was a good idea to go with black on gold pants and the gold helmet. Definitely looks better than the white helmet.
  • I sure was wrong about that Maryland game. Those yellow jerseys should be thrown away after the debacle against Temple. Bernard Pierce ran all over them.
  • Lastly, I’m going to miss these all-blue Boise State jerseys. Once they get into Mountain West conference play, they will not be able to wear these against the blue turf in Boise.