Look Good, Feel Good…..Play Good?
Well, for starters, the grammar nerd in me says that should say play well. But why quibble over something that’s unlikely to happen this fall? Hell, I’ll take them playing good, well, decent, acceptable, or even fair. Here’s all I want… play hard. And don’t play stupid or undisciplined. Beyond that, let the chips fall where they may. But this post is about uniforms.
We’re a bit overdue in giving the new uniforms some attention and let’s make no mistake – they’re worthy of some attention. This is not some kind of half-assed, warmed-over redo. Nike provided the Boilermakers something pretty tight. Clearly, our threats to take Purdue to Under Armour if one of us were to become athletic director were heard loud and clear in Beaverton.
You can examine the uniforms, modeled by Markell Jones, over at the Focus, Fight, Finish site. As with many marketing-related efforts done at Purdue these days, the site is slick and engaging. On to the apparel.
The helmet situation has not changed from last year, let’s get that out of the way. Purdue will still rock three lids – traditional gold with black motion P; the black with gold motion P and railroad tracks; and the white one introduced last year that has the somehow phallic-yet-juvenile train logo on one side and the player’s number on the other. If the photos are any indication, the helmets appear to each now have more of a uniform that they’ll typically “go with,” much the way BS’s very own Michael has certain flannel shirts that go with certain cargo pants and certain leather sandals.
First, we’ve got the “traditional” Purdue black and gold look:
I love this look. Sure, a big part of it is because I’m a Boilermaker, but there’s just something classic about this combo. The gold in it is of course not truly Old Gold, something we’ve mentioned numerous times and which causes Boilerdowd to sleep only in fits and starts since Mike Alstott last rocked something closer to true Old Gold. But despite that, it’s a solid look. What I like the most is that those dull, boring and stupidly-slanted numerals are gone, replaced by a solid block font. It’s thick, it’s block and it’s not frilly. Very Boilermaker-like. There’s also no excess nonsense on the jersey. Sure, it’s got those markings on the shoulders but they’re blacked out. One thing I’ve always loved in the design of almost anything is a black-on-black feature. Before the black helmets were introduced, we had proposed a number of ideas, including a matte black helmet with a gloss black motion P. And many of you will remember Purdue’s black on black basketball jersey look, which was ultimately outlawed by the NCAA for not bring readable enough.
So anyway, the traditional jerseys are black and gold and feature the traditional gold helmet. Very good.
Next up, we have the white road uni:
It appears here that the “standard” version of this one will be an all-white look, something Purdue has rarely looked good or played well in. But this is again a pretty solid uniform. There’s more going on here, as the shoulder treatments are gray and the numerals are black outlined in gold (whereas on the black jersey, it’s gold numerals outlined in gold). I love this number treatment, as it gets gold into the look without it being a gold uniform.
To that point, though, one thing I would like to see at some point is a gold alternate uni. Why not? I know many of us didn’t enjoy the two-year gold jersey phase at Purdue – and for good reason – but if a gold jersey got this kind of thought and treatment (think gold jersey, with big, black, block numbers), it could be a terrific alternate to wear on rare occasions, like Notre Dame’s green jerseys.
Back to the white uni, it’s paired with white pants and the white helmet I mentioned earlier. I’m not at all against having the white helmet in rotation. What I don’t like is the poorly-conceived train logo that’s on it. And I’ve never been a huge fan of player numbers on helmets. Again, I don’t dislike it, but I think I’d prefer this helmet be a true alternate in the sense of having an alternate logo, too. What about a white helmet with Pete’s hammer on it? Wouldn’t that work well with the whole “Hammer Down” concept? Again, though, all-in-all, this is well-executed.
Finally, we’ve got the uniform that will probably get the most criticism from the traditionalists who don’t like seeing Purdue in nontraditional looks. The gray…ish uni:
Last year, we briefly saw the anthracite gray unis, which I liked as much as anything I saw on the field last year.
It’s light gray this year, with black shoulder treatment, light gray pants and the aforementioned black helmet. The numerals are the same as on the white jerseys – black with gold border stitching. I think this one – and all three – tie in nicely to the helmets now, whereas the old jerseys felt like they had minimal connection to the helmets. As for this gray one, I will say this – I don’t dislike it and I don’t think anybody can make a claim that it’s a bad uniform. Maybe it’s not proper Purdue, but it’s not ugly or stupid-looking.
Purdue got very fond of the all-black look a few years ago and then we began seeing the all-white return last year. It looks like that general thinking has made its way over to a standard now, as two of the three uniforms sport that look. Interestingly, if these photos are any indication, there are no black pants in the combo this year. This is obviously not to say that if the players want to do a blackout game and go head-to-toe black that they can’t whip up some black pants, but I thought it was interesting.
There’s been some griping on social media that we shouldn’t care about the uniforms and should only care about winning some games. But this is one of those situations where it’s not an either-or scenario. Purdue can strive to win some ballgames and get an upgraded look from the Swoosh. It’s okay, everyone. Breathe.
More than that, this stuff does matter in the recruiting game. Purdue does not play in front of a jam-packed stadium. They don’t have the best facilities. They don’t win much. But here’s something you can control and make better and more appealing. To not seize upon such an opportunity would be silly.
These may wind up in the same negative annals as the original black helmet and the NASCAR-numbered jerseys of the past seven years. However, if Purdue turns a corner in them, you’ll remember them fondly, much like the Drew-era duds.
Look good, feel good…. Next up is to play.