By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
College football fans have a strange obsessions with uniforms, and Mississippi State fans are no exception.
It’s a topic that has sparked much discussion and debate on Twitter and other forums, and Scott Stricklin is at a loss to explain it.
“It’s interesting. I don’t know why or how. I love uniforms,” said Stricklin, MSU’s athletics director. “When I hear a team has a new uniform, I’m curious to see what it looks like. Teams I don’t even follow, I’m curious what their uniforms look like.
“I don’t know why as a society that’s the way it is, but it’s certainly in the college football world like any other sports area, it’s fascinating to people.”
As the summer drags on and everyone eagerly awaits football season, uniform talk helps fill the void. There will be plenty to talk about in a few weeks when MSU unveils new uniforms for the 2012 season.
State last changed its look three years ago, prior to Dan Mullen’s first season as head coach. The Bulldogs are outfitted by adidas, and the company gave them a more modern look last time around.
Stricklin has seen the new uniforms, but the public won’t get to see them for another month or so. Will the new look be drastically different or more of a subtle change?
“That’s hard to say,” Stricklin said. “I think it’s in the eye of the beholder. There will be a lot of maroon, a lot of white. People will still recognize us as Mississippi State.”
When asked why MSU is changing its look again, Stricklin said, “It’s been three years. You still wear the same shirts from three years ago? … It just seemed like a good time to do it.”
While he won’t reveal details of how the new uniforms will look, Stricklin did say there will be new technology as far as the material. Adidas uses what it calls Techfit, which is supposed to be 30 percent lighter than traditional mesh jerseys, and it also makes a cleat called Adizero, which it claims is the lightest on the market at 6.9 ounces.
MSU fiddled with its helmets last year, sometimes sporting a matte finish. And of course there are the specialty uniforms: the black jerseys, and then the maroon and gold look for last year’s Egg Bowl.
Stricklin said fans will see something a little different this year when Texas A&M comes to town on Nov. 3. It will be the first meeting between the teams since the 2000 Independence Bowl, a.k.a. the “Snow Bowl.” MSU won in a snowstorm, 43-41 in overtime.
State wore white helmets that night.
“We’re going to ask the fans to wear white and try to remind people of that game with the uniforms,” Stricklin said, and would divulge no more.
Ultimately, as Stricklin noted, uniforms don’t win games. That hasn’t stopped MSU fans from cringing every time the Bulldogs wear black – they’re 1-2 in those jerseys, the win an overtime affair at home versus Louisiana Tech last year.
That doesn’t mean it’s all style, no substance. Head coach Dan Mullen is all for his kids feeling good about how they look, something that tends to be important to college-aged kids, athletes or otherwise.
“We’re in there playing, I think a lot of people forget, these are 18-to-22-year-old kids still playing a game out there on the field,” Mullen said. “And having a new uniform or a cool uniform gets them kind of fired up and excited, and they think it’s really a neat deal.”
Even teams with iconic looks, like Alabama and Michigan, have dabbled in alternate uniforms. MSU’s look wouldn’t be called iconic, and in lieu of that, it’s looking to distinguish itself any way possible.
“We like doing things that have people talking about our program that get our fans interested in what’s going on,” Stricklin said. “We talk in terms of keeping the dialogue of Mississippi State athletics going. Uniforms tend to do that as well as anything.”