One of the things I've always loved about sports was the uniform.
I remember getting a talking-to by my first grade teacher Mrs. Hoover for curling the end of my nines. When she corrected me, I told her that's the way the '9' was on the back of Graig Nettles' jersey.
When I played soccer as a kid, I'd wake up at the crack of dawn, put on my uniform (complete with shin guards) and wear it all day -- even if we got the dreaded 3 p.m. kickoff.
In my youth, I'd create sports leagues and design logos and uniforms for my fictional franchises.
Yes, I've kissed a girl before. Why do you ask?
I simply love uniforms, but even I'm having trouble keeping up with what team is wearing what uniform (or color, for that matter.)
The Arizona State football team unveiled another look for the 2014 season this week. It features an "anthracite" (or as I like to call it, gray) uniform with white-to-copper gradient numerals. The helmets are white with a copper center stripe, copper pitchforks on either side and a chrome copper facemask.
The unveiling came with a lot of praise. USA Today called them the best in college football.
"Say what you will about the Oregon-ization of college football uniforms but at least one other team in the PAC 12 is doing it right," wrote Dan Carbaugh of Sporting News.
As the ASU fight song says, "long may our colors outshine all others, echo from the buttes, Give 'em hell, Devils!"
Little did we know that those colors would turn into anthracite and copper in 2014.
Traditionalists have had enough, as this is the first look ASU has revealed where the school's colors are completely absent. New-schoolers think they're bad-ass.
I'm somewhere in between.
Personally, I love the look of the new helmet, but I'm also convinced ASU's pitchfork logo would look great on a helmet in any color. The uniforms, to me, are blah.
"We wanted to pay homage to this great state while keeping the team's look consistent. We are one of the top few teams in the nation with as many looks and combinations as we have, and this plays an important role in building a national fanbase and molding Arizona State University into a household name," said head coach Todd Graham in a statement.
Does it, though? Does wearing a different uniform combination build a national fanbase and turn ASU into a household name? I'd be willing to bet national college football experts will still refer to the Sun Devils as the Wildcats and vice versa at least 72,000 times this season. You know, just like every other season.
In 2011, when ASU unveiled their drastic sartorial athletic makeover, I would have argued that the uniform makeover would and did give ASU a national bump in terms of exposure. Arizona State was behind Oregon, but certainly ahead of the curve when it came to making bold football fashion statements. In fact, they were the first team to introduce a matte-finish helmet.
But now, just about everybody is doing this. And I'm not blaming ASU for going outside-the-box with this new equipment. They're just keeping up with the Joneses.
We've all heard the "it really helps us in recruiting" arguments for several years now. Again, does it?
"Mom and Dad, Alabama has offered me a full ride and I'll have a chance to start as a redshirt freshman. All of our games will either be on CBS or SEC Network, so you'll be able to watch me every week. The last four guys to play my position for the Crimson Tide have been first-round NFL draft picks. But I'm torn, East Carolina offered me too, and their new uniforms are sick," said no recruit ever.
Because of the nation's apparent obsession with new football uniforms and helmets, I researched all the schools who are donning new threads and/or lids this season to feature in a photo slideshow on ArizonaSports.com. (Hey, I never said I didn't want the web traffic, right?)
A very cursory, 15-minute research project revealed 40 schools with a new look -- and that was before Notre Dame unveiled their new Shamrock Series uniforms Tuesday.
Again, if everybody is doing it, can it be an advantage anymore?
Alabama hasn't changed their basic look since Bear Bryant took over the program in the late 1950's. They've won three of the last five national championships, are ranked second in the preseason polls and consistently top the national recruiting rankings.
Auburn hasn't tinkered with their on-field appearance in nearly 60 years. USC, Texas and Penn State are all pretty steadfast in their fashion choices without it hurting them in the win-loss column.
Conversely, Miami Ohio unveiled some of the wildest looking helmets ever in 2013, featuring a chrome finish and facemask and what appears to be lightning bolts. In other words, a look that a lot of impressionable, young athletes would want to wear on game day. Yet, the RedHawks went 0-12 and lost by an average margin of 36-10, but they looked good (or at least contemporary) doing it.
I don't want to sound like too much of a curmudgeon, but in the realm of college football, I'm a firm believer that the clothes do not make the man.
Not anymore, anyway.