Evin Demirel: It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Bling – College Uniforms

Arkansas is the Natural State.

The Razorbacks and Red Wolves should mine it.

Visit Evin's Author PageBling. Swagtastic. Tight.

These are not terms most sports fans over a certain age care to consider when they are watching their beloved college football team take the field.

Traditional. Classic. Timeless.

Good luck locating a hotshot recruit who regularly uses these words when describing the look of his favorite college teams. You’d have a better chance of finding a Thomas Kinkade painting as Alex Collins’ cell phone screensaver.

Trying to tweak college uniforms in a way that appeases most traditionalists yet snatches a recruit’s attention is a balancing act. Almost every aspiring major program has to play this game to a certain extent or be left in the dust. Sure, you will always have your Auburns and Alabamas, which don’t need bells and whistles to seal the deal with the best recruits. But only a few programs consistently churn out enough twelve-win seasons to stave off messing with the color palette. On the other hand, there are programs so desperate to make a name for themselves and generate buzz that they polarize their fan bases with their sartorial choices. Exhibit A: Maryland.

Occasionally, though, a program gets it just right.

And more and more when that happens, it’s because of a symbol or accent that actually means something to its fans. Take Army, like Arkansas once a proud, nationally elite program. When it redesigned its uniform a couple years ago, it didn’t go searching for a color combination that would simply look attractive for the sake of looking attractive. Instead, its jersey designers paid homage to an important event that occurred during World War II, around the same time that Army football was entering its most glorious period. The result is a jersey which incorporates the map of the Battle of the Bulge in a nearly objectively awesome way.

Most colleges don’t have famous battles as part of their past.

But the Razorbacks have something better. They have a state with as rich a natural heritage as any other. Arkansas is, for bling’s sake, the only state in the nation that produces its own diamonds.

It’s absolutely time the Razorbacks mine this to their own advantage.

No, not in a hokey, let’s-incorporate-the-state-flag-design kind of way. Rather, do something like this:

college uniforms with bling

Or this:

WhiteHelmet college uniforms with bling

Better than plain white, right? And Nike will make it look even better, something that will sell merchandise and help tip the scales in favor of Arkansas for a few out of state recruits.

We’re not necessarily talking about using real diamond here. Zirconium will do. But as long as it’s diamond-like, it will appeal enough to traditionalists and recruits to be a hit. Have fun with it: the better players perform in practice, the higher “luster” the diamond shine could be come game time. Or use diamond decals to award good effort plays in the same way Ohio State uses buckeye leaf stickers.  There could be use on the basketball court, too. Best yet, the adamantine look goes well with anthracite, or Pantone 202 cardinal red, or the kind of concussion preventers a Transformer robot jock would be proud to wear.

Design which incorporates local/historic flavor is the future.

Oregon basketball was one of the first to get into the act, superimposing onto its new court silhouette images of the state’s native fir tree. Last year, the University of Wyoming used a depiction of the state’s Teton Range in both end zones of its field. The lettering “7220 feet” is on both sidelines, marking the stadium’s record-setting elevation above sea level. In the SEC, the University of South Carolina has included the state’s signature image – a crescent moon and the indigenous palmetto tree – on its football field.

Nearby, we have seen the University of Memphis superimpose an image of that city’s skyline on to its court. Earlier this month, Arkansas State and UALR played on a similar court design – this one repping New Orleans’ skyline – at the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament.

Why not try doing something similar heading into next year’s basketball season? The timing’s right – it will be one of the most anticipated seasons for both genders with a new coach on the women’s side and sky-high expectations for super sophomores Jessica Jackson and Bobby Portis.

There are hundreds of Arkansas-specific landmarks that could be used, but here’s one with Old Main:

Razorback Court with Old Main

The University of Arkansas shouldn’t corner the market on this emerging trend. The Natural State belongs to plenty other fantastic programs. Arkansas State, for instance, is surrounded by a rich past featuring the civilizations of multiple Native American tribes. Instead of characterizing these natives with goofy, stock images, why not pay homage to some of their unique, wonderful creations?

Buried in the Shawnee Native American village remains of northeast Arkansas are earthen “headpots” almost exclusive to that area of the nation. The head designs feature incisions which may or may not depict facial tattooing. For sure, it’s cool-looking – and in the hands of the right designers could be melded into “neo-throwback” Arkansas State University helmets/jerseys that would be the best of both worlds – swagtastic and utterly traditional.

I have plenty more ideas, but you get the drift. So, what do you think? Got better ideas for how Arkansas college athletic departments could use local elements to their marketing advantage?

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Evin Demirel is still figuring out how to put rims on his Twitter account.

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