Everything about NCAA Football is evolving before our eyes. From teams switching conferences to offenses putting up numbers that at one time were unfathomable, the college game is more intricate and interesting than ever. A change that has been a hit with recruits and fans is the crazy, colorful and flashy uniforms seen around the country.
A trend that was started by the Oregon Ducks, uniform designs are now a big part of a team’s image and has become a selling point for programs to recruits. It has worked pretty well for the Ducks, who attract many of the nation’s top prospects for many reasons, one being their huge number of uniform combinations. You could talk to someone who does not know a lot about college football and more times than not, if Oregon is mentioned their initial response is, “Oh, the team with the crazy jerseys and helmets.” It was such a hit with the players that it caused a ripple effect throughout the NCAA as teams are spending big bucks to spruce up the wardrobe.
The Memphis Tigers are entering their first season in the AAC, and after three years with a 5-31 record, Memphis hired Justin Fuente as the head coach. Morale and pride were at an all-time low for the Tigers when Fuente got there, but he immediately injected life into a broken and tattered program. Memphis was more competitive in 2012 than they had been in five years and ended the year on a three-game winning streak to finish with four wins, the most since the 2008 campaign. Slowly but surely, the Tigers’ program is creating a new culture, one where football is just as important as the city’s beloved basketball team.
It all started with the construction and opening of Tiger Lane in 2010, an official spot where Tigers fans could gather to tailgate before the games. It was followed in 2012 with major renovations to the Liberty Bowl, including a new high-definition scoreboard, AstroTurf field and sound system for the stadium.
Earlier this year, the Athletic Department introduced new uniforms, which feature black or blue tiger stripes on the shoulders and side of the pants with jersey colors of blue, black or white. This week, Memphis unveiled their new helmets. To put it into words, the new head gear is, well, awesome. The three-helmet variation includes the traditional Tigers helmet with the tiger jumping through the M, an old-school helmet with the player’s number on the side, similar to the Alabama Crimson Tide, and a killer chrome helmet with just a dark blue M on the sides. Anyone interested in taking a look at the new helmets can go to TigerSportsReport.com.
The change in appearance somewhat symbolizes the excitement Fuente has brought to the program. Memphis football has long had a culture entrenched in losing and it is never easy to take a program that has been consistently bad over most of its history. Last season’s three-game winning streak gave fans something to look forward to in 2013 and hope that better days are ahead. These new jerseys and helmets symbolize the changing attitude and image of this Tigers team that has endured one of the worst stretches in school history.
As the saying goes, when you look good, you feel good, and the Tigers have to be feeling pretty good about the way the program is heading.