By Phil Hecken, with Kenny Ocker and Casey Martin
It isn’t often the University of Oregon makes it to the Rose Bowl, but for those of us who are intrigued by their fascination with never wearing a uniform combination more than once, tracking the Ducks has become great sport. Whether it’s our own Michael Princip with his fantastic “Ducktracker,” or the multitudes of students who are never quite sure what to wear to a game in Autzen, waiting to see “what they will break out” for every game can be as much fun as the game itself. No one does it like Oregon (thankfully), and opinions on what the Ducks wear range the entire gamut from “awful” and “godawful” to “fresh” and “fly.” Whatever you may think of Oregon and it’s tradition — er, maybe that’s not such a great descriptor — one thing we can never accuse them of is being boring.
I have an extra special treat for you today, as one of Uni Watch’s collegiate members, Kenny Ocker, University of Oregon student and aspiring journalist, was able to interview the man who every week selects the uniforms the Ducks will wear, Casey Martin. Kenny was able to get in-depth with Casey, and has some really amazing nuggets to share with us. So, sit down, kick back, and prepare to meet the guy who many feel has the greatest job in the world, the guy who ‘dresses the Ducks.’ But first, a few words from Kenny:
I’m a lifelong University of Oregon fan and a sophomore journalism major at the school. I’ve been a Uni Watch member since for more than a year now (my card is of Eintracht Frankfurt, the soccer team my mother grew up rooting for… also, I’m the only member with the number 90), and I read the blog well before that. Originally, I think I was led to it by Page 2, but my interest in uniforms existed well before I ever saw Paul’s columns. You probably all recognize me as “The Hemogoblin”… (Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that.) In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a copy editor for the Oregon Daily Emerald, the student-run daily paper on campus. The Daily Emerald owns my soul.
And now, here’s Kenny’s interview with Casey Martin:
Kenny Ocker: How did you end up being the person who gets to choose what the football team wears every weekend?
Casey Martin: Well, it’s kind of an interesting story. I go down there and shoot the breeze with the guys in the coaches’ office… This summer, when they had this black box of all of the drawings of the new uniforms, and I was excited, just going, “Ah, these are awesome”, and he [head coach Chip Kelly] goes “Why don’t you pick our uniforms for us?” and I said “What are you talking about?” He said, “Well, I’ve got enough to do, I don’t want to worry about it; you do it for us. We’ve got too much going on.” I was like “sure, yeah, great” but I kind of thought he was joking, but as time went on I started realizing that he was probably pretty serious and so basically that’s how it happened, it was just kind of a casual deal, it wasn’t any really formal process, so I go down there, and the way it works, it’s not like I pick them. I mean, I guess I pick them, but not really. Chip is in charge. But he brings me down, we shoot the breeze, we lay out stuff, and then he selects what we lay out. He’s still the guy. He does what he wants to do, and he has a lot of opinions about stuff from a football perspective. Mentally, for the team, he likes to overcome, like in the past we’ve lost in certain uniforms and he wants to use them so we can overcome them. Or, if in bigger games, like in the USC week, he wanted to do something low-key, so it wouldn’t be a bigger feel… he’s definitely involved, he has a purpose for it. My purpose is to go in there and have fun.
KO: So this started this year?
KO: What was your favorite uniform combination this year?
CM: You know what? I… That’s a good question. I actually kind of liked some of the away uniforms to be honest. I like the black-white-black, and I like the really standard stuff like green-white-white, and some of the cleaner stuff I like, I like the black-yellow-black. I don’t know if I have a favorite to be honest. There were a few that were interesting and that weren’t received quite as well. I liked the USC week. I like them all, but there were some of them I liked more.
CM: That is a great question. I think how it shook out was this: We went into his office, and Chip was like “Look, we’ve got to go school colors because the Beavers will be in black,” which we all agreed. He goes, “I love the green throwback jersey, so lets do something with that.” But the rules are, you can’t use anything twice. So, it was like, okay, throwback jersey, but we can’t do the full throwback again, so it was like “OK, what do you do?” So, I went in there and what I did was I laid out a bunch of stuff and I took pictures of it all, so you can see how it shakes out. I went in there and started laying out all of these things for him to decide, and “Hey, these are all of the things you can do with the throwback jerseys, or what you might like to do with school colors.” He liked the white pants, so we were going to go with that right there. I think it came out of, one time we were going to talk about the white green white, which we haven’t worn yet, which is my favorite combo but we haven’t worn it yet and he was going “Why don’t we put the old UO on the white-green-white” so that was what we were talking about. And I think it was my idea, but it might have been Chip’s too, to say let’s just go throwback and put the new O on it. So I called the guy down in the equipment room, and said can we do this, can we put the new O on the throwback and he goes no, we don’t have enough time to do the stickers and stuff, and then Chip found out and he goes “Forget it, you’re doing it”, so it was kind of a combination of both of us, we were just thinking of new ways of doing the throwback without repeating it, and that might happen for the Rose Bowl too, we’ll see.
KO: Why did we never wear the chrome helmets that we had?
CM: You’ll have to ask Chip. I tried, that was one thing, I tried for six weeks to do that. One time, he polled the team, and they didn’t want to wear them for an away game, and so we were going to wear them maybe for a home game, but then it got really cold, and there’s some issue with temperature on them and the paint jobs, and so, I don’t know, you’d have to ask Chip. I definitely wanted to, I was dying for it, but he… the one USC week, he didn’t want to do anything out of the ordinary, because there was so much hype about it, and so we didn’t bring them out that week, and then the team didn’t want to wear them I don’t think at Arizona on an away game, we wanted to debut them at a home game, and then for Oregon State, we decided to go throwback, so that’s kind of how they got… they were late to come in too, so that was another thing, they had issues, so they didn’t really get cleared until the USC game and then we just never did it.
KO: I was curious because they got so much attention when they first came out, so I was just curious about that…
CM: It was more Chip’s decision and the team’s decision that they didn’t and I think they’ll save them for next year.
KO: So the team has a say in what they wear too?
CM: Sometimes. Like I said, even though I got tagged as the coordinator, everyone’s got a say. I just go in there and shoot the breeze with the guys and have fun with it. It’s really informal. It’s not like I go in there and say “this is it”, this is what we’re doing, it’s not like that at all.
KO: How long is the “we don’t repeat combinations”? Is that just a year?
CM: [laughter] Let’s hope that it’s just for a year.
KO: We have enough combinations, we could probably go a few seasons without repeating anything.
CM: I hear you… The idea was, what Chip said, let’s not repeat, let’s do something different every week. And then he’ll give you directions, so you kind of have to come up with the best-looking outfit.
KO: Because Coach Kelly didn’t want all of the extra attention during the week leading up to the USC game, is that why they didn’t wear all black, even though the students had planned the blackout? It had gotten so much hype… I mean, the Daily Emerald had even blacked out the paper…
CM: That was just kind of, Chip’s decision that he didn’t want to let the kids get caught up in a lot of that stuff. He just said “hey, it’s just another game” which I really respect, I think it was a great idea. Let’s not do anything out of the ordinary, it’s just another game for us.
KO: It worked…
CM: Yeah, exactly. It worked really well.
KO: So, um… yeah… This is the money question… What are we wearing for the Rose Bowl?
CM: We do not know yet.
KO: Have you not decided, or are you just hiding it?
CM: We have not decided. I was just down there right before I came down here. We have some ideas, we’re basically down to two or three options, but we do not know yet.
KO: Are you going to go with the throwbacks again, like throwback whites?
CM: It’s possible, I don’t know.
KO: I tried.
CM: I can’t tell you, even if I did know. Chip likes it to be secret until Saturday.
KO: I don’t blame him, it’s kind of a big deal for the program. That’s one of our things that, it helps, it draws so much more attention to us when they don’t know what we’re going to be wearing until right then. I do have another question for you. When we went, during the Oregon State game, during that week, all of the pictures on GoDucks.com (the athletic department’s website), had been from the Cal game, so they were all in the throwbacks. Did they know before the game that you were going to go throwbacks? Did they just guess and get lucky?
CM: Yeah. The decision for that wasn’t made until Tuesday. They don’t know unless Chip told them that’s what he was doing. That decision on what we were wearing, I don’t think it was made until Monday or Tuesday.
Well, there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about Oregon’s uniforms and the man behind them. Fantastic job with that Kenny! Special thanks, also, go out to Casey Martin for allowing Kenny that access. As the days tick down towards the Rose Bowl, I, for one, am greatly anticipating what the Ducks will wear, almost as much as I am for the kickoff on New Year’s Day.
Some rather bad news in the uni world happened yesterday, as the Minnesota Wild’s equipment van caught fire in Ottawa. Since the Wild are scheduled to play the Senators tonight, naturally their equipment truck preceded the team into Canada. Details are still somewhat sketchy, but this we do know: around 2:30 pm Eastern Friday the truck, which was in the Scotiabank parking lot, caught fire and almost all of the Wild’s equipment was basically turned into a mess of melted and charred unis and equipment. While no one was, fortunately, hurt in said meltdown, this leaves the Wild in quite a quandry. This is certainly a rarity in sports, but hardly unique. UW Prexy Paul Lukas gave us a look at some similar situations that have occurred in the history of sport.
Hockey players, like most athletes, are creatures of habit, and their equipment and uniforms are vital to their performance. Despite Rbk’s claims that their uniforms are 274% lighter, wick sweat away better than a Sham Wow and can withstand heat and fire better than a race car driver’s suit, apparently the uniforms, like the players who wear them, are mortal. Thus, the Wild are sans-unis and equipment, at least for now. The Minneapolis Star-Trib is reporting the players are still debating whether to actually play the game — since they would be required to basically play in brand new equipment. I’m no hockey player, but I understand that new equipment basically requires a solid two weeks to break in, leaving them at a decided disadvantage. And, there’s also a problem of replacing the uniforms.
The team’s official statement, as of yesterday evening, was this:
There was a fire in an equipment van in the parking lot at Scotiabank Place this afternoon. No one was injured, but some of the Minnesota Wild’s hockey equipment was damaged. The Wild is in the process of taking inventory to determine the damage to the equipment. Minnesota is scheduled to play at Ottawa Saturday at 6:00 p.m.
At 6:00 pm on Friday, the team held a meeting and decided to carry on as best they could — but not only do they need to have all new equipment shipped to Ottawa (or find some there), they’ll have to have all new uniforms (or at least whatever wasn’t consumed in the conflagration) sent to Canada. So, perhaps the Wild will be wearing darks instead of normal road whites. If you take a look at some of the damage photos, you’ll see that the very little is recognizable in the charred remains besides gear bags. As of late Friday night, tho, the uniforms were probably of less concern than the equipment.
Probably the biggest loss belongs to goalie Niklas Backstrom, whose equipment was completely incinerated in the fire. Given that goalies are even more superstitious and about their equipment than most skaters, it’s difficult to imagine him being any where near comfortable in all new gear.
Any of you hockey guys wanna discuss this below? Maybe keep us apprised of any developments as the day goes along? Or just want to explain the importance of having a modicum of comfort and feel for one’s gear? It’s hard for me to imagine the depths of this loss.
Our next round of NFL uniform tweaks/revisions and concepts is upon us.
First up is Walter Young, who brings his ideas on how to fix the J-E-T-S…Jets Jets Jets:
First off, I rather like the Jets current uniform in general. I am not a big fan their green/green, or white/white combinations. I prefer the contrasting jersey/pants look.
I had to borrow all of my graphics, and then went to work with my high-tech crayons (MS Paint). The uniform templates and designs came fro TAG Team Uniforms uniform designer. I just matched jerseys & pants I felt best complimented the other. I scavenged graphics from Chris Creamer’s sportslogos.net (helmets, name plates, sock templates).
All four uniform sets I use the Jets current Hunter/Forest Green and White colors, along with bringing back the old Kelly Green as an accent color (well, as close as I could come to those colors). I made no changes to the Jets current helmet or logo. The set numbering is just my preference after I was done putting them together.
Sets 2 (here) and 4 (here) are both takes on modernized solid torsos with contrasting yoke/sleeves. Set 4 came out way to “Tennessee Titians” for my liking, but to much work was put in not to submit it.
Of course, any critiques would be appreciated.
Next up is Daniel Patterson, who has some suggestions for the Seattle Seahawks:
It took seeing the green alternates to realize the biggest issue with Seattle’s uniforms. The 2-tone sleeves. They look okay on the away jersey and are easily overlooked on the home, but they look stupid with the green.
When the Seahawks redesigned their uniforms, they let the fans vote on whether to have blue or gray helmets. I voted for gray, so I thought I’d like to see what gray helmets, plus the required gray pants would look like.
Now that I had a gray helmet, I put together a faux-back. I used the current logo and shade of green. I don’t mind the green, in fact it is a naturally occurring color in the Pacific Northwest, even in December. Which led me to my last endevour. “Can I get a green jersey to work?”
The blue pants just won’t work, they need to be lighter than the green. The helmet needs to match the pants, so that left me with 2 options: gray helmet/pants and white helmet/pants. I don’t think they’ll be using those combos anytime soon, but I think they look better than what they trotted out against Chicago. Plus, the white on green would have fitted right in with the AFL.
Our next tweaker is Michael Fullmer, who brings us these San Francisco 49ers modifications:
I love Uni Watch! I’m glad there are people out there like you (and me) who care about good uniforms.
First, let me start by saying the I loved the 1998-2008 49ers uniform. LOVED IT! I was salty in the extreme when the new look was unveiled. I called it the Willie “Too Big” Hall uniform, paraphrasing the immortal line from the Blues Brothers movie, “At least we got a change of clothes. You’re wearing the same shit you had on four decades ago”.
I have since softened to the new look, especially the colors; the ’08 colors WERE too dark. But there are three elements of the uniform I still hate passionately: the 1/4 sleeves, the Red-White-Red “NFL stripes” on the helmet and pants, and the MF’ing gray face masks.
To me, nothing screams “I don’t have the first clue how to design a uniform” like a gray facemask where gray isn’t a color in the team’s uniform palette. It’s fine for the Cowboys, Raiders, and Giants to have gray facemasks. It’s an abortion of uniform design for the 49ers, Cardinals, and Browns to do it. The Colts get a pass since technically they don’t have a third color in their pallette.
I know you love NFL stripes, but to me they scream, “1969, all the time!”. And those sleeves – UGH!
So I took the 49ers uniform template available here (to make this a true tweak). My starting concept was to develop a single stripe pattern for the whole uniform. The one pattern that I saw as being a fit for helmet, jersey, pants, and socks was that used by the Giants on their road jersey sleeves.
Then I flattened out the sleeves into more of a 1/3 to 1/2 sleeve, and changed the facemask color back to red. The end result is this — a uniform that eliminates the cliche gray facemask and “NFL stripes” while maintaining links to the past.
And rounding out today’s set of uniform tweaks is Jay Braiman, who also has some ideas for the New York Jets:
I’ve always thought the Jets needed to move their upper sleeve striping down just a bit, perhaps by reversing the colors of the shoulder inserts. I’m not very good at this, so I thought I’d make an attempt using MS Paint. Simply reversing the shoulder inserts didn’t make much difference, so I redrew the stripes further down.
Note the side-on views eliminate the Reebok logo above the TV numeral. This should make Paul happy, but it would probably have to be on there somewhere.
Thanks to everyone who sent in their revisions for this round. Keep ’em coming. Lots more to get to after this.
It’s hockey season now, and dontcha know, the boys from Bub’s Pub play pond puck too! Here’s Ricko:
“I’m dreaming of a…” freshly plowed rink. The temp has dropped, boards have gone up, water’s gone down, and nature has taken its course. It’s BNIB (Broomball Night in BenchiesLand).
Enjoy your Saturday Benchies.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: We’ve got another reader submission today, and this one comes from Peter Greenberg. It’s a doozy folks, since it’s MiLB. You’ll probably be able to get the location, but the date, teams and final score may prove a bit trickier. Please post a LINK to the answer, and not the answer itself, in the comments below. Ready? Guess The Game From The Scoreboard. And, as always, if you enjoy the game, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line. Thanks!
That’s going to do it for today folks. Special huge thanks to Kenny Ocker and Casey Martin for that look into the Ducks uniform machinations. And you hockey guys, love to hear your take (and any updates) on the developing situation with the Wild gear and unis. Everyone from the Carolinas north and east through the New England states — be ready for some real winter weather today. Me, I’m under a blizzard warning, so this could be interesting.
Have a great Saturday.