Restore 44

By Kenny Van Doren, @SidelinesCuse

   

The personal and sentimental reasons behind a number might be silly to some, but an athlete’s number means more than anything. It all comes from a “look good, play good” mentality, or it comes from tradition. Players these days idolize their heroes; LeBron wears 23 because of Jordan, many MLB shortstops wear number 2 because of Jeter, etc. For Syracuse University, the number 44 was given to the starting running back for a 14 year stretch. College football legends Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little wore this number. 44 is the most historic and connected number to any college football program ever, and the Syracuse football program should bring this number back.

Tradition is what makes college football, college football. Penn State has their white out game at Happy Valley, the state of Alabama has the Iron Bowl, Mississippi the Egg Bowl, etc. Rivalries, uniforms, and numbers are exactly the kind of tradition that needs to be kept alive in college football. For the Syracuse Orange, the number 44 was first worn in 1921. Here is a list of all who wore 44:

Gifford Zimmerman, halfback, 1921

Charles Roberts, halfback, 1924

Clarence Taylor, quarterback, 1925

Don Baldwin, wide receiver, 1926

Richard Fishel, halfback, 1932

Henry Merz, quarterback, 1933

Hamilton Watt, wide receiver, 1934

Francis Mullins, halfback, 1935-36

Stanley Sanislay, wide receiver, 1937

Benjamin DeYoung, wide receiver, 1938

Francis Mazejko, guard, 1939

Richard Ransom, tackle, 1940

J. O’Brien, tackle, 1945

Robert Eberling, running back, 1952

Jim Brown, running back, 1954-56

Thomas Stephens, halfback, 1957-58

Ernie Davis, halfback, 1959-61

William Schoonover, halfback, 1962-63

Floyd Little, running back, 1964-66

Richard Panczyszyn, quarterback, 1967-69

Mandel Robinson, running back, 1977

Glen Moore, running back, 1981-82

Michael Owens, running back, 1987-89

Terry Richardson, running back, 1990-93

Rob Konrad, fullback, 1995-98

    The number is rooted in a deep history of All-Americans, NFL players, and two NFL Hall of Famers. It even has its ties to the basketball team with greats Danny Schayes, Derrick Coleman, and John Wallace wearing it. Wallace was the last to suit up in the towering 4s, even though the program retired his number earlier this year. Many fans wanted another big man to bear 44, such as the late, great Fab Melo. 

    One argument about bringing back 44 is if players can live up to the greatness that comes with the number. We may never see a Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, or Floyd Little ever again in blue and orange, but the 44 Foundation was made to honor and keep the spirit alive. Sure, they may not leave the same impact, but traditions are essential to college sports. 

44 should make its way back to the field for the Orange, and it does not even have to be the running back. Give the number to the captain of the team. Texas A&M finds a player to wear their beloved 12 each season that displays the highest level of leadership, and Syracuse should do the same. The number 44 is so sentimental to the University in many ways, so why not bring it back? Make it a number of honor and give it to the leader or hardest working player. With a number so heavily tied to some of the greatest college athletes in the 20th century, it would be an honor for any Syracuse football player to wear. Leave it up to Brown and Little, and see if they want their number to be on the backs of the future.

Follow @SidelinesCuse on Twitter for more Syracuse content!

Visit our brand new forums at SidelinesSports.Net/Forums, or click the link in the menu!

The Largest Apparel Deal in CFB – and Which One Will Be Next

The largest apparel deal in CFB is not with a playoff team. In fact, it’s not even with a Top 25 team. Perhaps even more surprising, the company writing the check isn’t Nike.

Image result for ucla under armour

Image Courtesy 247 Sports

In May 2016, Under Armour inked a 15 year, $280 million deal with UCLA to be their official shoe and apparel sponsor. This is the largest such deal in the history of college athletics.

For Under Armour, it was just another move in the imperialist game of athletic apparel brands. While Nike has claimed most of the lucrative brands like Ohio State and Texas, Under Armour planted a flag in the second largest TV market in the country.

The largest brand Under Armour has under its belt is arguably still Notre Dame, but the addition of UCLA expands their growing foothold to the West Coast – right in the heart of Nike Territory.

For UCLA, it’s more than just money – of course, it *is* an unimaginably large amount of money. But this contract identified them as one of the most valuable brands in athletics. By market value alone, they now stand shoulder to shoulder with the Alabama’s and Michigan’s of CFB. With a coach like Chip Kelly, who carries attention with him wherever he goes even if his teams haven’t performed as of late, eyes will be on UCLA every preseason.

Image result for chip kelly under armour

This is huge for recruiting as well. A recruit going to UCLA knows media attention will be on them, as well as millions of dollars for facility improvements and equipment.

The Under Armour – UCLA deal was done 4 years ago. A lot has changed in CFB, but a lot has stayed the same too – mainly, money is still king. So, which deal will beat UCLA’s?

The first thing to think about is obviously the team itself. Better performing teams will always bring more money, but as Texas has shown, fan following and brand power matter far more. This leaves a pretty short list of teams that could be expected to make a landmark deal, and it’s pretty similar to the list of teams that have a chance of making the CFB playoff every year: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, UGA, OU, LSU, Notre Dame, Penn State, Nebraska, Oregon, Florida, Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, USC. We can immediately cross off a few – Oregon will never need a payout to stick with Nike, and Clemson and Florida State just don’t have the size of fan base or brand power to milk that large of a contract.

The second thing to look for is geography and market; this is arguably the main reason why UCLA has the largest apparel deal right now. There are no New York teams worth paying a super contract too. Chicago is tied to Notre Dame, a good candidate for the largest contract (they currently have the fifth largest, also with Under Armour). LA could be snatched up on the other end by paying out to USC.

Finally, you have to look at the companies themselves. What are Nike’s goals? They have the most money – which battles are they going to choose to fight? Nike already runs the west coast, and I don’t think they are interested in stealing Notre Dame from Under Armour. Adidas is also a major player we haven’t discussed much thus far – their cash cow is Texas A&M, who they gave the most lucrative deal in the SEC. They actually held the UCLA deal before Under Armour took it. SEC deals are huge for a brand, and a few contracts there are expiring soon.

Image result for nike press conference

Taking all of this into account, it seems likely the next biggest contract will go to a team that is already a massive brand, probably to rip them away from another apparel company. It will likely be Nike, since them and Under Armour have been the biggest spenders but Under Armour has faced extreme financial difficulties recently as they stand on the line of bankruptcy. I would guess Nike might try to rip a big brand away from another company. Maybe Texas A&M away from Adidas, although they already have Texas in that region.

Who do you think will be the next shoe and apparel super deal in CFB? Let us know on Twitter @Sidelines_SN!

Grid Lines Blog #UniformOfTheYear

The votes are in, and your Grid Lines Blog #UniformOfTheYear for 2018 is the Iowa State Cyclones All Black uniforms.

These uniforms were announced on July 10, 2018, along with two other base uniforms. These new combos removed the stripes from previous uniforms, instituted a new number style with cyclone-esque curls, and added the words “Loyal, Forever, True” onto the collar.

These uniforms were worn in a Week 7 upset of the #6 West Virginia Mountaineers and a 42-38 victory over Kansas State. Both games were at night, which was likely the motivation for bringing out these blackout uniforms.

This also fit within Iowa State’s season mantra, “Win In The Dark.” The inspiration for this motto was that the best victories sometimes happen when no one is looking – hence, the Cyclone’s would “Win In The Dark.” In fact, this mantra itself may have been the motivation for these all black uniforms being added to the rotation.

iowa state 1.jpg

What makes these uniforms so special is their simplicity. Rather than an over the top look, Iowa State implemented crisp lettering, matte helmets, and subtle gray accents rather than color. The dark colors resemble a powerful and foreboding storm, matching the Cyclone’s brand. The West Virginia upset certainly emphasized the impact of this look.

iowa state 3.jpg

The new numbering really shines on these uniforms as well. The curves in the numbers introduce more tornado imagery without over-complicating the design.

After going undefeated in these uniforms and receiving near universal acclaim for them, I’m sure Iowa State will keep them in the equipment room. A well-deserved #UniformOfTheYear title.

To participate in our future polls, subscribe to our blog and be sure to follow us on twitter!

Super Bowl 53 Uniform Preview

It’s that time of year: College Football has wrapped up, and thus fans turn their eyes to the NFL Playoffs. This year’s games were packed with both action and controversy, but the biggest game is still left to play. The New England Patriots, perennial contender and league super villain, will be facing the surging Los Angeles Rams. Who do we think will win? That’s for another post. Let’s dive into these uniforms.

New England Patriots – Silver/White/Blues

brady.jpg

The Silver/White/Blue combo was introduced with the new uniform set in the late 90’s, although you could argue it was an entirely different uniform by design. The Patriots have worn this look in quite a few Super Bowls before – XXXIX, XLIX, LI, and LII – and had won every time they wore them until last year. Still, that’s a 75% winning pct. The Pats will keep the look.

Thoughts: Even with the loss, Pats have a legacy of winning in these, and there a good, crisp look (especially the dark blue, red outlined numbers against the white background). These will be just fine.

Los Angeles Rams – Dark Blue/Royal Blue/Gold

rams.jpg

No doubt about it – this has to be the best uniform combination in the NFL. I was so glad to see this brought back when the Rams moved to LA, and I’m glad it wasn’t just a one off appearance. Rams wearing it in the Super Bowl is a great homage to both the classic history and new traditions of the franchise in LA.

The Rams first introduced the classic blue and gold in their second season (they had first adopted the colors of the nearby Fordham Rams, when they were still in Cleveland). However, they did not add the gold horns to the helmet until 1948. Half Back and art graduate Fred Gehrke painted the horns on his helmet with permission from Coach Bob Snyder and owner Dan Reeves. People liked it so much, he painted the horns on the rest of the team’s helmets.

You may notice the current helmets are a darker color than the jerseys. This isn’t a mistake: this uniform combination is technically a throwback (even though it has been in the Rams regular rotation), and the old Rams jerseys did have a darker helmet.

Image result for old la rams

Thoughts: This bold combination is not only my favorite in the NFL, but will look fantastic against the Patriot’s white background. The uniform not only looks great, but means a lot, with this being the Rams first Super Bowl appearance since the return to LA. If only the Eagle’s had worn throwback Kelly Green’s in the Super Bowl last year.

Overall, this is a great looking Super Bowl, with a crisp silver/white top for the Patriot’s complimenting the beautiful design of the LA Rams throwbacks.

As far as a game prediction? Who knows. Hopefully it’s as good of a show as the uniforms.

Looking for another championship game uniform breakdown? Check out our guide on Villanova vs. Michigan, here:

Best Helmets of the CFB Season So Far:

Football is about a lot of things. Teamwork. Strength. Strategy. But one thing is more important than all: cool helmets. That’s right. It’s great when we see a flashy one handed catch, or a 99-yard kick return, but we all know the reason we tune in every Saturday is to see some dope domes, right?

Okay, maybe not, but we’re still going to make a list of our favorites anyway.

4. Florida State

Image Courtesy of @safid_deen on Twitter

Although the teams performance may not have been as spectacular, these helmets shone during the Seminole’s Monday night match up against Virginia Tech. Or, didn’t shine, because they were matte black. Huge props to the equipment crew; the garnet/black gradient on the helmet was just perfect. These lids capped off a slick black uniform that I was a huge fan of, although many FSU fans believed it cursed the team.

Image result for florida state virginia tech football

3. Duke

Image result for duke army football script helmet

 

Image Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Duke brought back the script helmets that have been featured against UNC and against NIU in the Quick Lane bowl. I can’t get enough of them – in fact I’d be happy if Duke switched to this look full time. After all, Duke used this look from 1978-2003. The chrome lettering looked especially great against the all blue base of the uniform.

2. Hawaii

Image result for hawaii colorado state

Image Courtesy of sbnation.com

Hurricane Lane devastated the Hawaiian islands prior to their first match up against Colorado State, leaving many without power or worse. Hawaii turned this into a rallying cry and paid homage with these beautiful island decals on a black base helmet. Not only did these lids carry significant meaning for the players and their people, but they looked incredible. Even better, Hawaii won the game in a major upset – and haven’t lost since.

1. Tulane

Image Courtesy of @uniswag on Twitter

No other equipment team stood a chance when these bad boys were released. C’mon, what’s not to love about Angry Wave? Tulane has sported similar helmets before, but this was the first with the light blue face mask which really makes the accents on Angry Wave pop. Plus, these domes went with a beautiful blue uniform for the Green Wave.

tulane.png

Image Courtesy of AmericanAthleticConf on YouTube

Will anyone be able to beat Tulane’s helmet this season? Is there another team that should’ve made this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Requiem for Russell Athletic

russt

Image Courtesy of ramblinwreck.com

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.

The History:

russell hist.png

Image Courtesy of logonoid.com

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.

The Highlights:

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:

Western Kentucky: Boca Raton Bowl, 2016

wku u.jpg

Image Courtesy of latimes.com

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.

Ohio University: vs. Eastern Michigan, 2012

ohioo.jpg

Image Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

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.

Georgia Tech: Orange Bowl, 2014

gt fine

Image Courtesy of rantsports.com

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.

The Lowlights:

Yes, what we all came for. The true eulogy for Russell Athletic. Here are the worst of the worst.

Southern Miss: vs. FAU, 2013

smith.png

Image Courtesy of fansided.com

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.

Georgia Tech: Chick-Fil-A Bowl, 2008

gtech dis.jpg

Image Courtesy of uniformcritics.com

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.

Ohio University: vs. Miami-Ohio, 2013

ohiew

Image Courtesy of uniformcritics.com

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!

University of Louisville Breakdown

u f l.jpeg

Image Courtesy of thecardinalconnect.com

With Louisville making all sorts of unpleasant headlines today, we figured it would be a pleasant break for Cardinal fans to have something else to read.

The Cardinal was chosen as the Louisville mascot in 1913. It was chosen because the Northern Cardinal is the state bird of Kentucky. Although the University’s logo is often ridiculed for showing teeth (which, believe it or not, don’t have), it really is one of the most iconic logos in sports.

louisville.png

Image Courtesy of wikipedia.org

That’s no small feat. “Cardinals” branding is extremely diluted by the numerous other teams that go by the moniker. The Arizona Cardinals and St Louis Cardinals are both massive professional brands. Furthermore, there are 26 Cardinal mascots in college football alone and, while University of Louisville is the most prominent of those schools, Ball State has fielded a football team for just about as long (with programs beginning in 1912 and 1924, respectively).

Plus, Louisville has some of the best throwback logos. This guy always look great on the basketball team’s shorts.

l ret

Image Courtesy of collegevault.com

But back to football. Louisville’s classic kit looks crisp and clean. Red and white are great colors to begin with, and that toothy cardinal looks damn fantastic on the helmet.

louis.jpg

Image Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

But when you’re talking Louisville uniforms, you’re not going to talk about their regular kits. Their alternate elements are what make the Cards one of the sleekest teams in the FBS. First of all, there’s the red-chrome helmet, which definitely pairs best with the color rush combo. Louisville’s “red-out” games are a sight for the eyes.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Louisiana State vs Louisville

Image Courtesy of btn.com

The Cardinals typically hold a black-out game once a year too.

Defense-Celebrating.jpg

Image Courtesy of thecardinalconnect.com

The black-out kits vary every year, with some better than others (Adidas: please stop using the tire track pattern). But my personal favorite would actually be the all black military appreciation uni. These kits look fierce as hell, and it’s not easy implementing the American flag into uniforms. Just ask the dozens of schools every year who simple overlay it with the helmet sticker.

jack

Image Courtesy of cardinalsportszone.com

It’s not a stretch to say Louisville has the consistently best alternates in the ACC. Their only real competition would be Miami and recently, NC State, but the Cardinals find ways to always come out of the tunnel fresh. Think otherwise? Prefer red-outs over black-outs? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

TuesD3y Spotlight: University of Dubuque

dub.jpg

Image Courtesy of telegraphherald.com

After an overwhelming victory in our Twitter poll, this week’s TuesD3y Spotlight belongs to the University of Dubuque Spartans.

The University of Dubuque is a small Presbyterian university in Dubuque, Iowa. They have played football in the Iowa Conference (IIAC) since 1929, but fielded a football team for years before that. They hold 8 IIAC championships, with the most recent from 2015 when they went undefeated in conference play for the first time since 1979.

They have an incredible history but also continue to make headlines today, most recently by sending cornerback Michael Joseph to the Senior Bowl; the only D3 player in the game. But of course, this isn’t a blog about history, it’s a blog about design. And boy, do the Spartans look great when they hit the field.

fbweb9

Image Courtesy of dbq.edu

The Spartans standard kit is a crisp Under Armour uniform, showcasing their signature blue and white. I think the blue/blue/white uni shown above is their best look. The way the metallic blue helmets and silver stripes go together just looks bold on the field, making them look like much more than just another D3 football team.

The blue jersey can be switched out for white, which is more suitable for away games. Thankfully the metallic blue helmets still make an appearance. I think they’re the highlight of Dubuque’s uniforms and one of the most subtly iconic in the Division.

spartans

Image Courtesy of chicagotribune.com

Again, the chest stripes (now blue) just pair perfectly with the helmet and pants to tie the whole kit together.

Interestingly, the Spartans have also taken the field in a gray jersey. I must admit I’m a pretty strong opponent of gray tops, whether it’s KU’s gray abominations or even the Boston Celtic’s “The City” jersey. So naturally, this wasn’t my favorite.

ud That being said, I think these were done just about as well as they could have. I definitely prefer the blue/gray/gray’s to the blue/gray/blue’s I’ve also seen. I draw a strong parallel to Duke University’s “Hellraisers” kit we looked at in our Retro-Devil blog post.

If Dubuque is seeking an alternate look, I’d love to see an all white with white helmets. D3 schools aren’t always able to switch out their helmets, but I think it’d be fantastic to see a metallic blue Spartan with blue chest stripes popping on a snowed-out look.

Speaking of the Spartan, huge credit for Dubuque for executing one of the most difficult tasks of any small school; overcoming a popular branding of their mascot. While Michigan State and their iconography will always come to mind when thinking “Spartans,” Dubuque keeps their logo different enough with details such as the crest and neck line to maintain their own identity. Plus, when fully integrated into the “UD” logo it looks splendid.

uf 4.jpg

Image Courtesy of dbq.edu

The Spartans play at Chalmers Field, a 4,000 capacity stadium. The real highlight of this venue is the press box, completed in 2008 and one of the best looking I’ve seen for a school of this size. Plus, it integrates fantastically with other campus architecture.

chalmers.jpg

Image Courtesy of kcrg.com

The University of Dubuque Spartans are one of the most consistently crisp looking D3 brands. Definitely keep an eye out for Michael Joseph in the NFL Draft, and the Spartans as a whole in the coming years. They’re a program with the talent and potential to become a powerhouse and eventual title contender.

Enjoyed this TuesD3y Spotlight? Check out last weeks, where we review the Tufts Jumbos!