This week’s TuesD3y spotlight shines on Wesley College. Wesley College is a private liberal arts college in Dover, Delaware, established in 1873. Their football program competes in the New Jersey Athletic Conference surrounding the New York City area.
Wesley competes as the wolverines, which already creates a branding obstacle given that most people will think of “That Team Up North” when they hear the moniker. However, the reason we have chosen Wesley for our spotlight is how well they break from this image and create their own identity.
The Wesley Wolverine logo is simple but striking. The two different blues go well together (similar to the URI rams). The logo itself is menacing, and shows clear motion with its comet-like shape.
One of my biggest qualms with small schools is that they often have great logos, but for no reason leave them off the helmet in place of numbers or a bland, boiler plate design. The Wolverines do not fall for this trap; they brandish this logo in all its glory.
Wesley has also used these road whites. I don’t care for them as much as the home blues, but they do their job. I do like the light blue outlines on the numbers. They go especially well with the light blue gloves.
Wesley football had a great season this year, making it to the NCAA D3 playoffs. After a dominant win against Rensselaer in the first round, the Wolverines were eliminated by Brockport St. in the second round.
Those familiar with UCF know that their academic branding, like many other schools, is kept entirely separate from their athletics branding. However, more and more universities are using the same logos for both their athletics department and academics in an attempt to unify branding. So, why does UCF fiercely separate their iconic Pegasus from their college football team?
To answer this question, let’s start with some history. UCF was founded in 1963 as Florida Technological University. They are a space-grant university, funded by the state with the intention of educating students to work in the for our nation’s space program.
Thus, a lot of the university’s early branding has connections with NASA and space travel. The Pegasus itself was selected in 1968 when the University opened. According to the press release, the logo was chosen because it was “the mythological winged horse of the muses. [It] carried their hopes, their inspirations, and their poetry into the skies.”
However, when the school needed a mascot, the Pegasus wasn’t chosen. Instead, FTU went with the “Citronaut,” an adorable orange character (who deserves his own post) that combined Florida’s histories with oranges and space.
Unfortunately, UCF’s lovable, tangy branding was not here to stay. When it came time to choose an official mascot for athletics in 1970, UCF went with the “Knights of Pegasus.” While a pretty cool name, it was indeed a mouthful. UCF transitioned to the “Golden Knights” to try and boost merchandise sales in 1993, and then down to just “Knights” in 2007 as part of a department-wide rebranding.
So, why wasn’t the Pegasus ever chosen during all these years of identity changes? The short answer is, the University wants to keep the Pegasus as a symbol of high academic achievement and not dilute it by using it for sports. The administration places great value on the academic seal and doesn’t want it tied to the school’s teams.
That being said, this resolve appears to be fading away. Last year, UCF wore some fantastic space themed uniforms for the War on I4 Rivalry game.
Image Courtesy of @UCF_Equipment on Twitter
Yup, that’s right. The Pegasus made it onto the shoulder, even if it’s very subtle. The Equipment Room stated that it was used to tie in UCF’s history with sending students to the space program, so it still carried academic meaning. But it was nice to see this great logo make an appearance.
The Pegasus constellation also made the “mission” patches and appeared on the helmet stripe.
So, does the Pegasus stand a chance to become a component of future alternate uniforms? My guess would be no. I think the University really is determined to keep this an academic seal, and only featured it on the I4 kits because of the space program theme.
It’s a shame, because I think this is a great seal that would look fantastic on the side of UCF’s helmets for a game each season, or even as a permanent shoulder badge. The Pegasus carries important meaning for the school, but I think that’s a reason it should be on uniforms, not separated from them.
On September 28, 2017 Russell announced they would cease producing uniforms for football teams.
This didn’t come as much of a surprise since they only had two FBS college football teams left wearing them, Georgia Tech and Southern Miss, who both announced they would be switching to Adidas when their Russell Athletic contracts expired in 2018.
So, in memoriam, we take a look back at Russell Athletic’s history, contributions and mistakes in sports apparel design.
Russell Manufacturing Co. was founded in Alexander City, Alabama in 1902 by Benjamin Russell. However, they did not produce athletic apparel until 1938, six years after they acquired Southern Manufacturing Company.
During World War II, Russell Manufacturing’s main focus was supplying the U.S. Army and Navy with shirts, athletic wear and undergarments. However, they continued to expand their athletic wear production during this time and by the 1960’s would become the largest sports apparel manufacturer.
From the 70’s onward they began to dominate many sports leagues as uniform of choice. 18 of the 28 NFL teams during this era sported Russell at some point, including the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. The corporation signed a five year deal to become the exclusive producer of Major League Baseball uniforms in 1992, which was expanded until 1999. Between 1999 and 2004 (when Majestic took over) there was no sole supplier of MLB kits, but Russell continued to supply many. Russell also had deals with Little League Baseball and the Harlem Globetrotters.
As far as college football, current FBS teams that once donned Russell Athletic include Coastal Carolina, Washington State, Western Kentucky, Ohio University, Southern Miss and, of course, Georgia Tech.
However, Russell’s partnerships waned throughout the 21st century until we got to where we are today. Russell has announced that they plan to focus their resources on providing consumer apparel, and will cease producing team uniforms for any sport.
While most won’t remember Russell uniforms fondly (especially Yellow Jacket fans), there were some diamonds in the rough. Here are some of our favorite past kits from the manufacturer:
This uniform might be one of Russell’s most memorable, and not just because of WKU’s 51-31 victory over a strong Memphis team. WKU’s helmets are one of the few chrome domes I approve of (another being Memphis’ striped buckets), and the bold black and red on these jersey supported them without overshadowing them. I think the black and white shoulder striped looked great with the numbers and black pants. This was a great victory for both the Hilltoppers and Russell.
If you’re a close follower of Gridlines you know I’m a huge fan of “color rush” uniforms; and this 2012 Bobcats kit is no exception. It’s such a beautiful shade of green on these bad boys, and it looked even better matched up against Eastern Michigan’s white background. Russell stuck to the basic here, but the simple all green look definitely made an impact. Only flaw here, in my opinion, are the white/black/white shoulders, but they don’t detract enough to take away from this overall stunning kit.
This one might not be as stunning as the last two, but it was one of the acceptable uniforms Russell ever put out for the Yellow Jackets. Why? Because Georgia Tech’s colors are white, *gold* (old gold, if we’re being nit-picky) and blue. Russell really struggled with the concept of gold, and for some reason used what I can only describe as p*$$ color. Here, however, we get a brilliant blue and a real gold color, at least on the helmet. The pants were fine, too.
Yes, what we all came for. The true eulogy for Russell Athletic. Here are the worst of the worst.
I genuinely do not even know where to begin. Digital camo has long been trying to worm its ugly way into athletics, with no signs of stopping (I’m looking at you, San Antonio Spurs). But this is truly one of the worst. If they had gone for solid black with the camo accent it might’ve been somewhat redeemable, but these kits just look like a West Virginia uniform if I was watching the game while on salvia. I hope Adidas treats you better, Golden Eagles. Just please, no tire treads.
Yes, these uniforms somewhat capture the blue and gold, but…no. The shoulder spread looked absolutely atrocious, separating the jersey into a strange top half and bottom half look. This kit looks like mustard stains all over a Penn State uniform. The gold on the sides looks terrible as well and certainly doesn’t help the cause. Georgia Tech should’ve stuck to it’s classic looks, and at most used it’s honeycomb alternate pattern. Tech, I hope Adidas treats you better too.
While I always appreciate special looks for a rivalry, this didn’t do the Battle of the Bricks justice. The brick pattern came out looking more like a loosely-applied stamp, and was done in the absolute ugliest shade of green possible. Green and white are classic colors and Ohio has some of the best branding in the MAC, so it hurts me to see Russell disrespect them like this. This was a neat concept too, ruined by an inept athletic apparel company.
At least you can’t hurt us anymore, Russell. Goodnight, sweet prince, and good riddance.
Did we forget a highlight, or an abomination? Comment below, and be sure to check Gridlines for weekly updates!