[Editor’s Note: Today’s entry is by Uni Watch intern Vince Grzegorek. Unfortunately, we’re having trouble with his login on the site, so the little note at the very end of entry says, “Posted by Paul Lukas,” even though it’s actually Vince’s work. We’ll get it straightened out soon enough. — PL]
I recently took some time off from my Uni Watch intern duties to roll up to Detroit and put in some time as a Motor City Bowl intern (that’s me on the right).
Yes, it’s a glamorous life, I know. What can I say? I just love working for free.
So, before Christmas I packed up my car and drove the three-hour stretch to Detroit, and while many people had visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads that week, I had visions of decals with the hope that Uni Watch soon would be here.
On Nike, On Reebok, On Russell and Srixon (wait, we’re talking about football here).
Anyway, unis were on my mind.
Central Michigan won its first bowl game in school history with interim head coach Jeff Quinn (who took over to coach this game after Brian Kelly left to take over at Cincinnati). Middle Tennessee State made its first trip ever to a Division I-A bowl game under the supervision of head coach Rick Stockstill (check out this pic of Stockstill with more hair back in his playing days at Florida State — he’s on the right). There was a record crowd of 54,113 at the game (most of them Chippewa fans with the bowl hosting a team from Michigan for the first time). And most importantly, I was there and close enough to investigate any and all uni-related things I could find.
I knew I was going to have a fertile week of uni research when I entered the new MCB offices to find the walls decorated with depictions of every Super Bowl logo. Talk about a spot for inspiration. However, my focus soon shifted from the NFL on the walls to the college football all around me.
One of the first things I noticed was the variety and differences between the official Motor City Bowl logos that were used. As I counted, there were five different versions. First was the regular bowl logo that was always used in the past with the red stripes arcing in a smooth line toward the tire starting over the first “O” in “Motor.” Second was a newer logo that had the bottom red line extended further to the left leaving some open space on the furthest left hand side and the arch starting over the second “O” in “Motor.” The third version was made possible by the extended red line, giving Middle Tennessee State the opportunity to place their team logo in the empty space, thus creating a special logo commemorating their bowl trip. The fourth version of the logo celebrated the 10th anniversary of the bowl game itself. The fifth version of the logo was perhaps the strangest. If you look closely at the the blue helmets on the front of the media guide (and even closer here), you can see that the Motor City Bowl logo used here is reversed, with the blue tire on the left hand side and the red stripes moving down toward the right.
What’s interesting is that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason in choosing which logo to use at different times. The updated logo with the extended red line was used to decorate the middle of the field, but the players wore patches with the 10th annual version. The 10th annual version was plastered on the media guide (with, of course, the reversed logos on the blue helmets), but the tarp for the backdrop at the press conferences used the updated red-line logo sans the 10. All the while, the regular old logo that was used for the player’s patches in years past kept popping up on articles of clothing and merchandise.
So much for continuity.
There were actually two uni-related items from the game that I got scooped on by observant Uni Watch readers in the Comments sections from December 26th and 27th.
The first was brought up by John Okray, who noticed that Central Michigan’s uniforms were outfitted by New Balance. While the majority of college uniforms are made by Nike, Adidas, Russell or Under Armour, New Balance has been getting into the game as of late, also making uni’s for Wyoming (where, as Paul has pointed out, it looks like they placed the New Balance patch right over the old manufacturer logo instead of getting new jerseys) and the University of Northern Colorado. (You can read more about CMU’s change to New Balance and the players’ preference for all-black alternate jerseys here.)
The second item was noticed by Alan Topolski, who pointed out that the font on the nameplates of MTSU seem to change based on the length of the player’s last name. Another of Alan’s examples can be seen here, and two more examples of the changing size of the font can be seen here and here.
Although the Uni Watch Intern Department is still waiting for official confirmation, it seems that this phenomenon dates back to at least the 2004 season and survived the team’s change in manufacturers from Reebok last season to Nike this season. Evidence from 2002 doesn’t seem to indicate a similar nameplate style, and examples from the 2003 season show MTSU with no nameplates at all.
Fonts and jerseys weren’t the only newsworthy uniform stories for MTSU at the game. Wide receiver Bobby Williams had something written on his left wristband, but, despite many attempts, the message and its significance still remain indecipherable and unknown. Any assistance on this would be greatly appreciated.
On the Central Michigan side, you may have noticed that the CMU helmets seem to have a little sparkle to them when light hits them the right way. That’s because they use a gold sparkle paint pattern. Trust me, the closer you get, the snazzier it looks.
Also, as usual, there was a lot of eye black floating around on the CMU side. However, only Doug Kress sported the eye black all the way across his nose (perhaps it helped him watch himself on the jumbotron during his interception return).
All in all, it was a very productive stint in Detroit, and as I sat back and watched the VIP’s wine and dine the nights away at places like GM World (hard to forget who the sponsors are), I took some time to wine myself and enjoy the snazzy uniforms that seemed to be all around me.
Still Digging Through the Archives: As readers have seen in the past couple weeks, some colleges have begun to post archival sports photos on their websites, including Brown and Texas A&M.
These treasure troves of information have yielded excellent images and plenty of pictures of striped socks for Paul’s delight.
We can now include Boston College in this list, as their “Teams of Destiny” online exhibit traces the visual history of the first 50 years of BC Football.
Highlights include: a picture of the first officially sanctioned team from the school in 1893; a picture of center James Kenney, circa 1900, detailing his “protective” turtleneck; and last but not least, a picture of the 1928 coaching staff all wearing knee-high striped socks.
Happy New Year, everyone.