On a Labor Day evening when the first weekend of the college football season had provided a lot of thrills and upsets, the University of Maryland got a lot of attention, and not just for its 32-24 victory over Miami in the ACC opener for both schools.
The Terrapins debuted several combinations of its 2011 football uniforms at a public event back on August 22. The biggest splash, outside of no player names on the back (new head coach Randy Edsall explained he wants his players to play for the name on the front, not the back), was the turtleshell-print white helmets the team will wear at some point this season.
But no one was prepared for the prominent Maryland state flag graphics uniform manufacturer UnderArmour debuted for the nationally televised opener. UnderArmour is a Baltimore-based company, whose founder Kevin Plank once played football at Maryland and is a major donor to the athletics program.
Maryland has four official colors — red, yellow, black and white; the same as the state flag — and have used all four (and combinations) over the years in all sports, including all-black and all-gold uniforms in men’s basketball. A large state flag was prominently flown behind the men’s basketball bench late in Maryland victories under Lefty Drisell in the 1970s and 1980s, and the distinctive flag leads the football team onto the field at Byrd Stadium.
In fact, it’s not the first time the Maryland state flag has graced the helmets. According to the excellent Helmet Project website (worth checking out if you are a fan of helmet designs over the years), a decal of the flag (complete with pole) was worn by the Terps three times in 1967 against Syracuse, N.C. State and Clemson. The flag also was part of a decal with a red “M” on a black helmet from 1997-2000.
The reaction on Twitter was extensive and wide-ranging, according to USA Today. It certainly got sports fans talking, and regardless of the reaction, social media recognized Maryland’s bold look and tied it into UnderArmour. And after a Saturday night game between Georgia and Boise State, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, which was a three-hour Nike Pro Combat commercial, UA may have gotten the last word.
UA is battling Nike and other manufactures for market share, and Nike’s futuristic uniform combinations for most notably Oregon (Nike co-founder Phil Knight is a UO alumnus), have been hits with players and recruits. Plank and UA’s redesign of Maryland’s uniforms as the company’s signature college client may do the same for the Terrapins football program, and that’s the point of the bold strokes found from helmet to shoes.
Here is the video UnderArmour (@UnderArmour on Twitter) produced to debut the Maryland uniform for the season opener — Maryland Pride: