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‘I see,’ said the blind man — wait, didn’t I use that headline two weeks ago?

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I took a quick glance at the Insurance Bowl last night, just as a penalty was being called. As the ref announced the particulars of the foul, I noticed something odd: He was wearing eyeglasses.

Some quick Googling revealed that the game was being officiated by a Pac-12 crew, with the white hat being worn by one Jay Stricherz. Sure enough, he’s a four-eyes. He’s been wearing specs on the field for at least five years now, maybe longer. Judging by comments I found on an assortment of blogs and message boards, he also appears to be the object of considerable scorn among west coast NCAA fans, but I don’t watch many west coast games much college football, so I hadn’t been aware of him until now.

It’s interesting to see that a bespectacled ref just happens to be a hated ref. I mean, okay, all refs are hated to some degress, but a lot of the online commentary about Stricherz is extra-harsh. I see three possible explanations for this: (1) Stricherz is an unusually poor ref. (2) Fans feel more comfortable or even emboldened to bitch about a ref who wears glasses, because he seems like an easy target. (3) Most refs look generic and anonymous, but Stricherz’s glasses make him more readily identifiable, so he ends up generating more commentary simply be virtue of being “that guy with the glasses.”

(Actually, Stricherz isn’t the only bespectacled NCAA zebra. There’s at least one more: Brian O’Cain. And he doesn’t appear to be loathed like Strickherz is, so maybe Strickherz just sucks.)

Of course, for all we know there could be dozens of zebras out there wearing contact lenses. But glasses are a very public symbol, and they’re apparently still a touchy topic. I know of no four-eyed zebras in the NFL, and I’m pretty sure there’s never been one in the NBA or NHL either. All of which is a bit surprising given that the eyewear barrier for baseball umpires was broken way back in 1956, by Ed Rommel and Frank Umont. If baseball arbiters could wear specs more than half a century ago, why not officials in the other sports? (CORRECTION: As reader Steve King has pointed out in this morning’s comments, NFL ref Ron Winters wears glasses. Not sure how this has escaped my notice before. Embarrassing omission on my part.)

The notion of glasses as an officiating taboo was addressed in this 2009 article in Referee magazine, which includes several quotes from Stricherz. The article’s conclusion: “Wear glasses as an official is no longer taboo.” Maybe not, but it’s still rare enough that I did a double-take when I saw Stricherz last night.

Oh, and Michigan wore some pointless “sleeve” stripes and a spindly-looking number font. Remember when they were a team you could count on to maintain a consistent look? But hey, Jay Stricherz probably couldn’t tell the difference anyway.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: Late-breaking detail from the Rose Bowl: It looks like Wisconsin’s helmets had two little roses beneath the BCS logo decal. “Oregon didn’t have any roses, and neither of the Fiesta Bowl teams had any additional marks underneath the BCS decal,” writes Zack Kurland. “I would think this was like a star on a soccer jersey, designating a Rose Bowl title — except Wisconsin has won three Rose Bowls, not two.” … “My neighbor’s father, James Rossi, was a cyclist on the 1956 and 1960 US Olympic teams,” says Eric Bangemann. “Here are some photos of his jerseys.” … Keith Winney notes that Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma went NNOB in the Insight Bowl. Anyone know why? Ah, multiple readers and commenters have now informed me that he was the latest Sooner to be wearing the late Austin Box’s number, which is worn by a different OU defensive player each game. … Casey B notes Bills kicker Brandon Coutu had a non-standard NOB last Sunday. “It drove me nuts every time I saw him,” he says. “He was signed as a free agent on the Wednesday before the game, so they should have been able to get their shit together and give the guy an appropriate uniform, unless maybe the seamstress was on vacation for the holidays.” … Utah is now saying they’ll stick with their current logo after all. ”¦ It’s not often that you see a rock song that’s specifically uni-themed, but here’s one called “All I Want for Christmas Is a Dukla Prague Away Kit,” by the British group Half Man Half Biscuit. “It’s about a kid playing subbuteo,” says Chris Cruz. “The key lyrics are: ‘And he’d managed to get hold of / A Dukla-Prague away kit / His uncle owned a sport shop / And he’d kept it to one side.'” ”¦ Texas A&M-Corpus Chisti hoops will be wearing this Spanish-language jersey for tonight’s game against Lamar (from Chris Mycoskie). ”¦ Here’s a pretty cool time-lapse video showing the Citrus Bowl stadium being repackaged from the Corporate Sporting Goods Chain Bowl to the Credit Card Bowl (from Tom Van de Kieft). ”¦ Speaking of the Credit Card Bowl, the Rev. David Staples attended the game and counted the following (for the purposes of this item, we’ll refer to the credit card company in question as Banking Scum, Inc.): 90 separate Banking Scum logos placed around the stadium; nine giant Banking Scum logos on the field; 70,000 plastic bags — one taped to every seat in the stadium — each with six Banking Scum logos on it and a Banking Scum postcard and a set of Banking Scum bang sticks inside of it; and a Banking Scum jersey patch and Banking Scum helmet decal being worn by every player on the field. “If you include the programs that were sold, with at least 20 [Banking Scum] logos in it, my rough estimate, is that there were 1,170,611 [Banking Scum] logos in the Citrus Bowl,” says David. “Or in that vicinity.” ”¦ Here’s a video clip on the official ball for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (from Kenny Loo). ”¦ Fun story from James Comfort, who works at a GameStop outlet: “The other day a guy bought Madden 2011 (last year’s game) and then came back a few hours later to exchange it for Madden 2010. His reason blew my mind: He said he was looking for the last Madden game before the 49ers redesigned their uniforms. I had never been happier, because here I had a chance to use three of my obsessions in one conversation: sports, video games, and uni-watching. But I couldn’t remember the exact year the 49ers went from this to this, so I pulled out copies of Madden ’10 and then Madden ’09, which is the one that had the uniforms this guy was looking for. Personally, I love the new 49ers unis much more than the old ones, but hey, the guy got the uniforms he wanted and paid about $20 less for them. Not too shabby.” ”¦ With brothers Britton and Dustin Colquitt playing against each other in last Sunday’s Chiefs/Broncos game, their mother wore a hybrid Denver/KC jersey (from Chad Todd). ”¦ Major find by Jeff Flynn: an inflatable Jags helmet with the original prototype logo. Someone snap this up! ”¦ Have I mentioned lately that 17-year-olds like shiny objects? That’s the Halloween costume or whatever for some high school all-star game. If you look closely, maybe you can discern which sportswear company is sponsoring it (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Ray Lewis broke the center vertical bar on his facemask during the fourth quarter Sunday’s game. “He continued to play with it like that for the rest of the game,” says birthday boy Griff Shirley.

Comments (173)

    Tony Jefferson didn’t go NNOB for Oklahoma. He was the designated defensive player to wear the late Austin Box’s jersey number (12), as the Sooners D has done all season…

    That inflatable Jags helmet would be the first time I’ve ever seen any of the prototype logos depicted on a black helmet.

    It must have been created before they revealed what the helmet was supposed to look like, because the only real prototypes as far as I remember were the silver ones with the leaping cat (no text) on the sides.

    I’ve never worn my glasses on the field and usually don’t even have them with me at the stadium. No need to fuel the fire about how blind we are.

    Contacts- and laser surgery for many- are an official’s best friend.

    Am I the only one who finds linking to a twitter page to read essentially the same sentence that contained the link redundant, lazy and a waste of time? Linking to an article allows you to discover more information on the subject.
    Opening a twit page feels like someone is backing up their statement with, “Because!”

    Actually, as soon as I see the blue bird, I close the page, figuring I already know as much as I’m going to about the subject.

    I try to provide links whenever possible — even short, redundant links like Twitter posts — to show the origin of a claim, to provide documentation, to transform an assertion into a sourced statement, etc.

    I wouldn’t necessarily do it in a “normal” article for a mainstream media outlet. But Uni Watch is all about details, getting the small stuff right, etc., plus there are lots of rumors and gossip floating around the uni-verse, so citing sources seems like the right way to go here.

    Speaking of details, Stricherz is misspelled at one point.

    “(3) Most refs look generic and anonymous, but Strickherz’s glasses make him more readily identifiable”

    Amember, clicking on a Twitter or Facebook link means you will thenceforth be inundated with spam from said Social media sites. From the Gospel according to Dale Gribble.


    I hear you Michael, but it’s no different than a footnote that says “ibid.” Providing a source for a statement is always a good thing. If the source is thin on content, blame the source, not the one who cites it.

    Yeah, the one today that got me all grumpy is attributed to: Utah Athletics, which is a source, I’ll admit. I was thinking they usually just give you the posters twitter handle, which makes them no better that a rumor with a nice background.
    It’s the disappointment factor… like (click) oh, just this twitter crap.
    And Kyle: don’t be commenting at school!

    Maybe the Badgers only had two Rose Bowl decals under the BCS logo because the ’99 and ’00 Rose Bowls were the Rose Bowls they won in the BCS era. That’s the only logical thing I can think of anyway…

    I counted nine UA logos on that All America game uniform (I’m sure I’m missing two on the gloves and two on the cleats he’s probably wearing…maybe two on the socks, too). Do they really need logos on the crossbars of the helmet, chinstrap, and whatever the hell that band is supposed to do across their elbow.

    Three logos would have worked, if you really think that no one will recognize the goddamned Under Armour logo.

    I guarantee there is more than one logo on each Under Armour cleat he’s wearing. I’d put the over/under at four logos per shoe.

    Is the HS All-American Game uniform the first ever example of NetNOF (Network Name on Front). Why does ESPNU get a patch on the uniform?

    How long until all SEC teams wear a CBS logo for Saturday evening games or all sub-.500 B1G schools get a patch of Doris Burke’s face for Noon ESPN2 games?

    Nah it’s Pam Ward, she just sounds like Doris. She’s announced like two Purdue games this year.

    Re: Tony Jefferson of OU going NNOB – he was wearing #12, Austin Box’s jersey for the game. OU rotated the jersey every game in his memory.

    I also love the quest for the perfect video game uniform, though I’m surprised that the previous version of the 49ers uniform isn’t in the game in the advanced pre-game options on Madden 11. I find I keep changing to the old Giants uniforms when I play, and I try to always keep the Cowboys in blue even though it’s just a game.

    Scottish football referees are sponsored by Specsavers, a national chain of opticians.

    What started out as a bit tongue in cheek advertising has turned into a long term partnership, the money being used for referee development at all levels.


    It’s not about the money; I just don’t want a DVR in my house. I already spend enough time doing photo/image research. Trying to stay sane.

    DVRs can be a huge time-saver, assuming you watch any TV at all (I only watch sports, the Daily Show, and TCM, personally). Watch what you want when you want, and more importantly, you need never sit through a commercial again.

    Nothing wrong with using the old, reliable VCR. Easy to scan past commercials and other bullshit unrelated to the game.

    It’s amazing how television sucks up so much time out of people’s lives, including sports. I’m guilty of watching my Celtics and Patriots games, and Seinfeld reruns but I plan to chuck my TV away in several months and start doing a whole lot more reading. My roommate, a “professional” poker player watches the tube all day from the time he wakes up till 3am, flipping between ESPN, the Comedy Central and AMC. And he’s close to 30.

    Thinking about League Pass for my Celtics fix- does anyone have experience with this? Can you get this on the laptop?

    I have little use for TV other than watching hockey. Honestly, it’s a luxury that I reserve for only one guilty pleasure: NHL playoff hockey.

    The rest of TV? Meh. My DVD collections and growing library of books keep my attention at high.

    I honestly hear more and more people say that sort of things these days. Honestly, if ESPN “and the family of networks” was available over-the-air, I would be totally done with cable. Sad to think a few sporting events charves a $100 chunk into my monthly budget. Chalk this up to a first world problem, I guess.

    I fully agree with Mark K. I always wear my contacts on the football field. Why make yourself even more of a target?

    I have worn glasses basically all my life now, and have umpired softball for over 20 years. I tried contacts once BEFORE umpiring, and had some problems with my eyes being a touch dry, so gave them up. Never have had any problems on the field as far as the specs being an issue. However, when I reached the magic age, and had to get bifocals, I did go the extra feet and money for the high index (no lines) lenses. I was told that they make for a smoother transition when following action. What I also do is that whenever my prescription changes, I get a new pair of sung;asses also, and for those I always ask the O.D. to make the distance field on those a touch larger than my regular glasses, as I am either driving or working a game when wearing those, and am NOT reading or on the computer, so I do not need the short vision as much.

    Yes, I noticed the new Michigan away jerseys, too. Unlike you, Paul, I liked ’em just fine. They looked old and detailed. But I agree with you in the sense that they should pick a design they like, and stick with it.


    Having watched a ton of PAC10/12 games, it’s safe to say that *most* PAC refs are terrible. That’s likely the case with Stricherz.

    This may have been going on for a while, but last night was the first time that I noticed the head ref (Jay Stricherz) had a large NIKE logo on his hat. I couldn’t find any photos online, maybe someone can grab a screenshot. Do refs generally have large manufacturers logos on their hats?


    According to this site:

    “In addition, the game was the main subject of Half Man Half Biscuit’s B-side “All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit”, the lyrics recalling a petulant game of Subbuteo. Although hundreds of teams were replicated in the Subbuteo range in the 70s and 80s, a Dukla Prague away kit was never produced.”

    Several months ago, TOFFS, the English football equivalent of Ebbets Field Flannels, was running a special on Dukla Prague away shirts, in celebration of the anniversary of the release of this song. It’s at least 25 years old.

    Also, the lead singer is wearing an Ajax shirt in the video, which is cool.

    .. in fact one could argue that number 758 on this page – link – labelled “Dukla Prague” is in fact their away kit as the home kit was claret with yellow sleeves.

    I’ll go and sit in a darkened room now,


    i don’t think i understood a single thing you said…except for “petulant” — it had been applied to me for quite some time before i thought to look up its meaning…i always thought it was a term of endearment

    the rest? not a clue

    Why does the model in that H.S. All-American Game uni have a half-sleeve of tattoos and full facial hair? How many years was he held back in school? (Yes, I know he’s not an actual high-schooler, but still…)

    Better question: Why do Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour all use the exact same photography style when introducing a new design? You’d think they’d wanna differentiate themselves by creating a signature visual presentation style.

    Let’s face it, Nike set a new standard (for better or worse) with alternate college football uniforms when it released its pro combat series. Nike’s marketing look of black background with high-contrast lighting was a part of this pro combat push. Under Armor and Adidas are just trying to catch up and have adopted Nike’s marketing look as a way of saying that they are just as innovative and ground breaking (which seems like an oxymoron). At this point I am just surprised that Nike hasn’t created a new look to stay one step ahead of the competition. Unfortunately it is this thought, that they need to stay ahead of Adidas and Under Armor, that is feeding designs like the Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl uniforms.

    I fear for the future of college football uniforms. IMO, even Michigan looked like shit last night.

    I fear for the future of team identities. It’s going to come to a point where teams have a different jersey/helmet combination every week, especially in college.

    As much as I want to agree with Paul when he says that professional teams “won’t let a manufacturer destroy the brand identity the team has established over the course of years and years” I just don’t see how it’s going to be stopped. It may take longer at the professional level but once it takes hold at the NCAA level it will eventually come to the professional level as well.

    It starts in April with Nike and the NFL.

    It’s clear that Adidas and UA are just following Nike. What’s unclear is why they would do so. It’s self-evidently bad business. You don’t beat your rival by commodifying your product, you do it by differentiating your product. And what Adidas and UA are doing is commodification of their brand identities. They are making Nike’s brand more valuable, and their own, less.

    They might be using the same photography style (it seems to be a football exclusive maneuver, as it breaks from adidas’ photography guidelines outlined in its style manual), but they’re not following Nike in a creative sense, or at least not yet. adidas has been focusing itself on heritage designs that look very classy when viewed against the futurism of the other companies.

    “adidas has been focusing itself on heritage designs that look very classy when viewed against the futurism of the other companies.”

    I thought they were focusing on new and exciting ways of turning UCLA stripes into en dashes.

    “I thought they were focusing on new and exciting ways of turning UCLA stripes into en dashes.”



    Agreed, Paul. It’s like we only have 2 modes of new uni marketing: storm clouds a-coming visored generic player photos and the runway fashion show. Do all these companies use the same ad agency? Who created this look? I think this topic would make a great ESPN column for you.

    I guess the points behind my initial question then would be a) why isn’t the model MORE generic, and b) why isn’t the model more representative of the players who will be wearing the uni? Or perhaps c) am I that out of touch with 17 year old football players?

    It’s pretty obvious they all think kids want this look. It’s all about high school kids. That’s what’s driving every current uniform trend going, including — as collateral damage — the sad and growing tendency of NFL squads to go head-to-toe mono-color: the kids coming out of high school are taking this Darth Vader/superhero nonsense to the colleges, where their whims are massaged in lieu of actual paychecks, and then on to the NFL, where an increasing number of teams have just thrown up their hands and said “Fuck it, let the players pick what we’re wearing.”

    NFL coaches and execs don’t want the fight, probably because it’s already hard enough dealing with the pampered athlete psyche even when it’s not being dipped lightly in oil and lovingly manipulated, and as people like Stevie Johnson and DeSean Jackson prove week after week, there is no shortage of players who desperately need to be looked at during every possible opportunity on the field or off. In baseball you get titanium necklaces and pajama pants, in football you get “we should definitely wear all black.” Every snowflake is 100 percent special.

    The people who sell the uniforms love it, of course. Your “individuality” is their mass order of identical product.

    So let me get this straight Lukas, in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with the real unemployment rate approaching 20% percent, you are whining and blubbering like some crybaby over how much advertising a company puts up in a stadium where a bowl game sponsored by said company is being played. Seriously? I guess you’d rather have 500 more people stay out of work, all because you get all spazzy over the supposed sanctity of keeping advertising out of sporting events.

    Yeah, you sure are one great humanitarian.

    OR said giant bank could have NOT spent millions of dollars on useless plastic objects that the fans will throw away as soon as they get home and spent that money on Christmas/Holiday/End-of-Year bonuses on their employees. Or reinvested it in some form to help build the company to create more jobs.

    Ask the bank and the big companies why they think blowing loads of cash on silly exhibition football games between two 6-6 teams that struggled to become “bowl eligible” is worth it. Especially when the Fiesta Bowl proved that a lot of that money is not being used for its intended purposes.

    You are assuming the bags made it home. Most of them remained either taped to the seats or were laying on the ground of the stadium. It actually was a bit of a safety hazard. There were so many laying in the aisles that people were slipping leaving their seats.

    Maybe that was part of the master economic plan – to increase jobs in the medical industry repairing the injuries.

    Ok, I’ll bite.

    Obviously… *someone* had to produce all of that junk… so at least hypothetically it might have created a few jobs. Assuming of course that they were actually made in the US rather than overseas. Even then, most of those would be temporary. So whatever company made the plastic bags may have hired a few additional workers for that project, and now that it’s over all of those people are out of work again. I suppose it also brings up the question/problem of what stadium workers do in the off-season.

    In short – No, rampant stadium advertising isn’t going to save the economy. We need more permanent jobs, not temporary/seasonal ones.

    “Ok, I’ll bite.”


    is there ever a comment string in which you don’t?

    For generating short-term growth, any economic activity is good economic activity. Hiring pairs of people to first dig, and then refill, holes in the ground would quite effectively reduce short-term unemployment and spur economic growth. Stadium advertising has the advantage of creating more lasting value within the economy, though, and of being private rather than public spending, so it’s an improvement on the dig-and-fill-holes approach. Still, advertising is one of the least value-creating forms of private economic activity, and signage is perhaps the least value-creating form of advertising no matter what the billboard industry claims, so in the long run, in terms of creating sustainable growth and increasing productivity, it’s pretty low on the list of activities worth encouraging.

    I mean, hiring people to poison the city water supply would reduce unemployment in the short term; you’ve just created the water-poisoning jobs, and now employers will have to hire part-time and temporary help to replace all the sick workers, and hospitals will have to increase staffing to handle the sick people, and so on. Ripple after ripple, hiring people to poison the water would be a good thing for the economy in the short term. Doesn’t mean we should actually hire anybody to poison the reservoir, or permit a private business to do so!

    But digging holes and filling holes doesn’t spur the economy, those jobs aren’t revenue generating jobs, the only benefit they would have is on the people digging and filling the holes while being a burden on the company that hired them. If they’re government digging hole jobs, its just a dead end.

    The bowl bank advertises to try to get folks to use their bank. If someone is going to switch their business from one bank to the bowl bank, that doesn’t spur the economy, it’s only good for bowl bank. If someone who was saving money (not spurring economy) decides to do business with bowl bank, that is spurring the economy. Getting the money out of savings and back into the stream.

    Plus, switching from one bank to another can actually hurt the economy. Imagine a person switching from a local bank to a “national” bank sponsoring a bowl game. Have enough people do that and the local bank might have to reduce the number of employees or eventually even go under. Sure it might help the national bank hire a few more employees somewhere in the country… but that’s the point. Those jobs could be spread out, while the local economy of your hometown takes a hit.

    @ Chris, switching banks would affect the local economy. After all though, what if the big bank has a headquarters in your town?

    I was the one who sent in the item on the “Banking Scum” Bowl. If a company wants to sponsor a bowl, that’s their prerogative. And if they want to put logos up, fine. What I was blown away by was the shocking abundance of the advertising. It was crammed into every single possible location. I’ve done company branding before and understand the desire to increase recognition and all that. But the bowl was already called the “Banking Scum” Bowl. It just felt like overkill to plaster that everywhere. I’ve been to several Jaguars games in their stadium and there are fewer Jaguar logos displayed than there were “Banking Scum” logos displayed at the Bowl game.

    I wonder if calling it the “Citrus Bowl” around said Banking Scum would actually irritate them more than calling it the Banking Scum Bowl. If they spend all the money for the advertising, and to plaster their logo everywhere, and you STILL have the gall to use the game’s original name…

    They could have just donated all that money they spent on sponsoring the game to a good cause…

    ” a closeted homosexual”

    You really had to go there?? THAT is a weak taunt/retort. Juvenile and unclever.

    just my opinion.

    Nothing wrong with being homosexual (or a girl, or a 14-yr-old nerd). But they’re all very much contrary to the image Joe has created. The contrast is the thing. That’s all.

    Half Man Half Biscuit sure is a good name.

    But back to unis…

    “… ‘My neighbor’s father, James Rossi, was a cyclist on the 1956 and 1960 US Olympic teams,’ says Eric Bangemann. ‘Here are some photos of his jerseys’ …”

    I like that garish stars-and-stripes option in the middle of the linked page. Great find.
    Which reminds me. It’s 2012, and the Olympic Games with the Worst Logo Ever will occur, and I can go into quadrennial spasms about how each nation [ie, each multinational athletic gear corporation working in cahoots with the national olympic committees] will choose to be represented through the uniforms of their athletes. In every sport.

    So I have two questions. 1) What are Uni Watch’s plans for appropriately saturated coverage, Paul? 2) Who among us in the UW commentariat care deeply, even unattractively, about what athletes wear at the Olympics?

    I care. I’ll try to keep an eye out, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to watch enough Olympics to catch everything.
    That logo and the mascots are pretty awful. I expected better from the Brits.

    It’s not just the uniforms. We’ll have to keep an eye out for what the competitors wear in the Opening Ceremonies. Will Ralph Lauren be doing the clothes again and slap a giant polo guy on everyone’s chest again?

    I can only think there was a mistake in the design brief – perhaps someone mentioned Rolex sponsorship and asked for designs which represented a load of Rolex
    (I don’t know if that joke works with American-English lol)

    I only care a little, frankly. And I care least of all about the opening ceremonies, at least from a Uni Watch standpoint — that’s a parade, not a sporting event. Parades are fine, but I don’t make a point of writing about them.

    Fair enough. Not a sporting event. I wouldn’t have cared so much if the big polo guy hadn’t been splashed all over the place to irritate the heck out of me.

    Awright, Jason and George, let’s constitute ourselves as the first members of the (unofficial, non-sanctioned) UW Olympic Aesthetics Commission (UWOAC, pronounced YOU-woke). Our first task is to recruit fellow members to do the real work. Kenny Loo, do you read me? Jeremy? Vilkster? TJ?

    My note written before reading Susan’s adroit comment. She could contribute massively to the work of UWOAC.

    Wow, has it been two years since I did the Olympic figure skating 5&1s? Time flies.

    I’m sure I could contribute in some way.

    I’ll consider contributing for the Winter Olympics, although I do try to watch and follow the field hockey competition at the Summer Olympics.

    It’s definitely a problem (for me, a Yank who’s come to soccer by watching his kids). When I ask someone raised on soccer about the basic need for an offside rule, I usually get tongue-tied versions of “It’s always been that way, that’s why.”

    What are Jeff and I missing? What elements of soccer that make the game attractive would be lost by the abolition of offsides?

    Come in, George.


    Someone in the Daily Mail comments seems at 13:56 on 4 January to have already posted a thought about this ;)

    However – what the coin does not show is that the controversial issue is whether a player is “interfering with play”. Bill Shankly, manager of Liverpool in their hey-day, used to say “if a player is not interfering with play then what the hell is he doing up there?” My own view is that the left hand triangle may not be offside if he is not interfering with play.

    Personally I tend to agree about whether the rule is needed – if someone wants to “goal hang” (which is what we used to call it at school – goal hangers were universally despised glory hunters) then they are not contributing to the rest of the play.

    Being politically incorrect, there is an “explanation of the offside rule for wives/girlfriends”:

    You’re in a shoe shop, second in the queue for the till. Behind the shop assistant on the till is a pair of shoes which you have seen and which you must have.
    The female shopper in front of you has seen them also and is eyeing them with desire. Both of you have forgotten your purses.
    It would be totally rude to push in front of the first woman if you had no money to pay for the shoes.
    The shop assistant remains at the till waiting.
    Your friend is trying on another pair of shoes at the back of the shop and sees your dilemma.
    She prepares to throw her purse to you.
    If she does so, you can catch the purse, then walk round the other shopper and buy the shoes.
    At a pinch she could throw the purse ahead of the other shopper and, *whilst it is in flight* you could nip around the other shopper, catch the purse and buy the shoes.
    But always remember that until the purse had actually been thrown it would be plain wrong to be forward of the other shopper.
    You would be offside.

    I’ve always found the offside rule pretty easy to understand in theory.

    The problem seems to be in the implementation – asking a referee who’s running up the field to determine whether an offensive player is in front of or behind a moving imaginary line at the very moment a ball is kicked by a different player who might be 20 yards away and on the other side of the field.

    Assistant referees (used to be called linesmen in my day) give the call on offside – they run up and down the sideline.

    Sorry – add – the technique apparently is for the linesman to look along the furthest back defensive line and listen for the sound of the ball being kicked.

    Is it possible that the two Rose stickers on the Wisconsin helmets are for those players that have made two Rose Bowl appearances? So while every player on this year’s team would have at least one, those who played against TCU last year would have two merit stickers?

    I wondered if it was something like that… but when I found some pictures of Russell Wilson, his helmet had both roses, and he wasn’t on the squad last year. Maybe it’s just to commemorate their back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances?

    2-in-a-row would be my guess. Given that they both turned out to be losses, I’d lose this for next time (I’m a UW alum. Once a Badger, always a Badger).

    I am an Under Armour fan. Mostly because #1 They’re not Nike. #2 I liked how they changed the landscape of the sports apparel industry and found their niche and made the big boys react. #3 They’re based in Maryland and founded by a Maryland alum.

    But yes, I get annoyed with all of the UA logos everywhere, too. I know they need to keep marketing and expand their presence in the market and are edgier to appeal to 17-year-olds who like shiny objects.

    Is there a name for the UA logo, like Nike’s Swoosh and Jumpman? Should we make one? I know it’s a UA, but it can also look like an H. Or maybe a Jumping Jack.

    You know what’s a good way to market? Make a good fooking product and let people see for themselves why you’re the industry leader. Good example: McDavid.

    Who? And no, I’m neither joking nor trolling. I seriously have no idea what mcdavid is…

    Thanks, Paul!
    I got my Caps pompom ski cap in the mail yesterday. It rocks.
    I love the blog. Keep up the awesome work.

    The only college football games I watch are Oregon State games (yeah I know), so I’ve seen Stricherz a lot. I didn’t know his name until today, and to be honest, never even really noticed that he was wearing glasses. But I am not surprised that he receives a lot of flak online, because Pac-12 officials are notoriously bad, and it seems to me like he is usually the lead official who makes all of the announcements at the games he works (which somehow seems to be a lot of them–I remember remarking to my brother at a game this year how it seems impossible that this guy apparently referees every Pac-12 football game ever contested).

    He is always the R.

    Usually in Division I football officials will work the same position all season with the same crew.

    There are some “swing” officials that sometimes fill in or form an extra crew when a conference has a high number of games on a certain weekend (happens early in the season when a number of schools are playing out of conference).

    Bowl games are typically like the conferences’ “all-stars” based on season performance but only against others working your same position.

    Seasoned veteran officials at that level don’t bounce around.

    It should be noted that in football, NOBODY starts their career at the Referee position. When someone starts in a conference (college) or the NFL, they always start as a Head Linesman, Back Judge, whatever. It is only after more than a few years, and if you are what they consider referee material, that you get to be an R. The NFL, however, WILL hire an especially good CFB ref, work him a couple of years at another position, and them make him a ref at the first opportunity. The classic example of that was Jerry Markbreit, who was one of the best CFB refs ever – the NFL hired him, apprenticed him under Tommy Bell for a year, then when Bell retired after the season, was made the R of Bell’s crew. Being made an R after one season is still VERY unusual for the NFL – but then again, Markbreit was one of, if not THE best.

    99% of the time, an official in CFB or the NFL will stay at the same position throughout his career. And a LOT of the time, they will stay with the same CREW for a good portion of their careers, although I think that is changing a bit in the pros.

    Excellent forum all about football and other officiating, but mostly about the NFL:


    you have to register,but its free…..

    It’s not often that you see a rock song that’s specifically uni-themed, but here’s one called “All I Want for Christmas Is a Dukla Prague Away Kit,” by the British group Half Man Half Biscuit. “It’s about a kid playing subbuteo,” says Chris Cruz.

    Ah, Subbuteo…the soccer world’s non-electric version of electric football! I love that game. And I love this video that shows you how it’s played:

    If I were to remake that song I’d call it “All I Want for Christmas Is a link Away Kit.”

    Subbuteo! Best game in the world. Now you make me want to go up into our attic and get our set down. My son is tool old (although I argue you’re never too old) and my grandson at 7 months is a tad too young. But I’ll be smoothing out that green baize soon enough when he’s ready (and while I can still win).

    At a tnagent (which is what I do) the video clip reflects the unofficla World Championship. Do you know about this? When England won the World Cup in 19666 and in 1967 then were beaten by Scotland, the Scots claimed they were the World Champions (like the World Heavywieght Boxing Championship).

    The concept has been unofficially tracked on by people who probably need to get out more (but still have me posting!), and did you know that North Korea are current holders of the title?

    North Korean joke for you: Un replaces Il. Deux and elle are waiting to find out what happens to them.

    I didn’t know about the unofficial world championship…interesting.

    George, unless you’re dead, you’re not too old for Subbuteo. Get that set down and play! If you ever come to Ohio you’ll have to try out my homemade version:
    MISL rules, so no offsides.

    MISL rules?

    isn’t that the “everyone gets a participation trophy” league?

    There was also another referee wearing glasses in the NFL this past weekend. I’ve been looking for photos of who it was in which game, but I haven’t found any just yet.

    I remembered seeing it, thinking “oh, that’s interesting, I don’t recall seeing him wear glasses before”, but didn’t think much more of it. This discussion reminded me. I want to say it was Tony Corrente in the Bengals/Ravens game, but it may not have been him…it was definitely this past weekend, and definitely in the NFL (at the very least, I’m 95% sure it was one of the 4:15 starts).

    Casey B notes Bills kicker Brandon Coutu link last Sunday. “It drove me nuts every time I saw him,” he says. “He was signed as a free agent on the Wednesday before the game, so they should have been able to get their shit together and give the guy an appropriate uniform, unless maybe the seamstress was on vacation for the holidays.”

    What, she couldn’t wait a week to take her vacation? :p

    Interesting, though. If the jersey was customized by the team, you’d expect them to have a whole stack of the correct letters. Perhaps this one was supplied by Reebok? How’d the jersey look other than the nameplate?

    A couple of things….

    One, did anyone notice the graduation cap logo on the back of some Virginia Tech players’ helmets? Did that symbolize graduating seniors, or was it for academic achievement?

    Second, I noticed that there was one Stanford OL that went NNOB. Did anyone else notice that?

    The graduation caps on the helmets are for graduating seniors. They’ve been doing that for at least a few years.

    Joe Torre has announced that he’s joining a group that attempting to buy the Dodgers. If he’s successful, he’ll have been all of the following:

    – Player
    – Manager (and briefly player/manager!)
    – Broadcaster
    – League executive
    – Owner

    That’s a pretty rare combination. Has anyone else ever pulled off all of those?

    Eddie Shore would be the best example in hockey of a guy who did it all.

    – played with the Bruins, winning two Stanley Cups, before playing with the AHL Springfield Indians.
    – bought the Indians and joined the AHL Board of Governors.
    – had a stake in the NHL’s New York Americans’ ownership.
    – managed the Indians.
    – coached the Indians.
    – was the athletic therapist for the Indians.
    – had a trophy named after him as the AHL’s best defenceman annually receives the Eddie Shore Award.
    – pissed off his players in Springfield so much that they formed the first official players’ union.

    So that’s player, owner of multiple teams, GM, trainer, honouree for a league’s best player, and caused the formation of a player’s union.

    Pretty impressive resume if you ask me.

    You forgot that he’s also been referred to as “the Darth Vader of hockey” by Donald S. Cherry!

    Halas comes pretty close, but as far as I know he was never a broadcaster though he did pioneer putting football on radio and while he may have never been in the NFL front office, he did basically help found and organize the NFL.

    Re the new 49ers jerseys: It’s good they went back to the Montana Era colors, except for one glaring issue: what’s with the puny stripes coming out of the sleeve elastic? The Niners had great, bold stripes, then went to skinny ones, now skinny half-stripes. How about full stripes, higher up, like the Steelers, Packers and many others?

    Shoulder stripes on football jerseys are like outsourced jobs: once they’re gone, no one knows how to fully bring them back!

    Rob Vernatchi #75 is a Field Judge in the NFL and he wears his regular glasses on the field. (link) I’m an aspiring official myself and I got the chance to ask him about it once.. He told me he’s always been comfortable wearing them on the field and never gets any flack for it so if its good enough for him its good enough for me. I don’t like wearing my glasses in inclement weather though so I’ll go contacts in those situations only.

    A few weeks back ” Mike D ” asked me for some defunct NHL concepts in the comments of my last weekend feature and I finally got around to posting them here: link

    Don’t know if he’s reading today’s comments, but hopefully he is.


    I’m sure this has been posted before, but I don’t often read the comments on the blog anymore. Though I find the concept a little overly curmudgeonly, I have to give props to Paul and No Mas for getting these products into legit retail production. Way to go!

    The SF Giants posted this great picture of Tito Fuentes today on Facebook, in honor of his 68th Birthday…


    “Tito Puente’s gonna be dead, and you’re gonna say, ‘Oh, I’ve been listening to him for years, and I think he’s fabulous.'” –Stripes

    i loves me some olympics — if there are any UWers interested in forming that UWOWC…(or whatever acronym it was), and would like to work with me on any and all olympic related fare you’d like —

    well, you know how to reach me…

    everyone but vilk — unless he wants to do a synchronized swimming 5 & 1 ;)

    Like hell you will, Tim. ;o)

    Hockey-fight you ’til we’re concussed for it. First one who remembers, gets it. LOL

    So this is the part where you fight each other to the death, and I walk in?
    In other hockey news, the Habs KILLED Winnipeg tonight, and for once, there’s something spectacular and not rotten in (or from) Denmark. Of more Uni Watching note, Chris Mason did NOT wear his epically awesome Jets logo-ed gear.

    Here is something I have always wondered. All these uniform sponsors for these sports still have not realized that the athletes put those awful bibs on? I mean what is the history of those bib #’s? Have they always been implemented? Why don’t the people who make uniforms implement those into the uniform design? Many times you see a design broken up by the bib. It has always frustrated me.

    Maybe it’s better to have an awesome design for retail, as nobody is going to buy anything just for bib space. After all, having a blank bib space would make novice skiers look like Teletubbies, and I don’t think anybody wants to look like a Teletubby. This way, you can still buy what the Olympians wear, but the bib has to be “earned.”

    This is getting exciting, next week’s games

    Oregon vs. Oaklahoma St
    Michigan vs. West Virginia

    Oh I’m sorry , that’s it, no need for the excitement to build

    Also, didn’t someone here call the whole “Orange ya glad we won?” T-shirt? Way to be imaginative Nike.

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