By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Where Ole Miss fans stand on changes to the Rebels’ football uniforms may depend on the individual fan’s date of birth.
The school unveiled some different looks to its classic game-day apparel on Saturday during its spring football scrimmage, showing new navy-colored pants and bringing back a white jersey with navy numbers and stripes.
“I love them. I think it’s a fresh change of pace,” said Tupelo resident Benjamin Stewart, 25, a recent Ole Miss graduate. “Players like them, and I do too. It’s something new that Ole Miss hasn’t done before. It’s very eye-appealing. I think most people of my demographic like them. I’ve heard different opinions from the older generation.”
The changes are mostly in color combinations but also include a different “cut” to the uniforms, the same cut used in NFL uniforms also made by Nike.
In a YouTube introduction video Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said, “We’re not going away from our traditional stuff, but we might want to mix it up every now and then.”
Some older fans have been reluctant to fully embrace the new looks, including one who used to wear the uniform.
“Uniforms are like music. Everybody has their own opinion. The blue pants threw me off a little bit. I didn’t particularly like those,” said John Darnell, a Corinth native, who lettered at quarterback from 1987-1989. “I can see doing something one game or two to do something fun for the players, but I’m not too much for changing it up. Look at all the great programs across the country. Most of the top programs keep their same uniforms.”
There are exceptions to the rule. Oregon comes to mind.
Former Oregon stars LeGarrette Blount and LaMichael James have said uniform combinations were one of the first things that piqued their interest in recruiting.
“You’re catering to a football team with 18-20-year-old kids that like something different,” Stewart said.
Change is still a delicate topic. The opinions of an older generation that is buying season tickets and giving money to support the program will also be considered.
“You have to do what you have to do for recruiting,” Darnell said. “If changing up the uniforms helps recruiting, I support that.”
The uniform discussion stirs passion in a lot of fans … not all of them.
“The changes did not seem radical,” said Tupelo resident Van Stone, 55. “I’m really more interested in how the guys inside the uniforms play than how they look.”
Darnell seconds that.
“As long as they win they can wear whatever they want.”