Uniforms have fans seeing red, but players rave

semerson@macon.comAugust 20, 2011 

ATHENS -- Georgia had planned on unveiling its new (and temporary) uniform at picture day on Saturday afternoon. Nike, which designed them, didn’t get the memo and leaked the design on its site earlier in the morning.

Red jerseys. Red pants. Silver and red helmets. A new-age kind of look.

The reaction from fans was swift and overwhelmingly negative.

“Terrible,” Whitney wrote Homans on Twitter.

“Holy awful,” Alex Watlington wrote.

“Is that uniform some kind of sick joke?” Russ Henry asked.

“I wouldn’t blame any player on the team for sitting out vs. Boise due to embarrassment,” Clint Owens wrote.

The problem is, the players seemed to like it.

“It’s 2011. You know, we’ve gotta have a little swag,” junior receiver Tavarres King said.

And the uniforms are only supposed to be worn one time, in the Sept. 3 opener against Boise State.

“I do like tradition, but I think one game out of the year you can do something new,” junior linebacker Christian Robinson said. “It’s not like we’re changing our whole style for the whole season. If it’s upsetting somebody that bad, I’m sorry.”

Indeed, Georgia is set to return to its classic look -- red helmets, silver britches, white jerseys on the road and red jerseys at home -- for the second game when South Carolina visits.

The newer look is part of a Nike pro-combat campaign that has gone on for several years. Boise State will be wearing its, too, with blue jerseys, when the teams meet at the Georgia Dome.

“I think Nike did a great job of trying to capture a lot of the tradition of Georgia football,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said after Saturday’s practice. “Some things are very subtle that fans may not be able to see, but the players can see.”

But Richt also seemed to understand the negative reaction, since so many fans are attached to the traditional Georgia look.

“That’s part of the reason we’re sticking it out there two weeks in advance -- so everybody can get over it,” he said, perhaps only half-joking.

But other parts of the resistance is a mixed history with different uniforms.

Two years ago, Georgia wore black helmets against Florida and lost 41-7. The year before Georgia took on Alabama in black jerseys and lost 41-30.

It was pointed out to Richt that the Bulldogs had lost the past couple of games they wore non-traditional uniforms.

“I think we’re due,” he said.

But Robinson remembered one of those games differently: He was a recruit in the stands when Georgia came out in black jerseys against Alabama.

“I was already committed, but that’s probably the most excited I’ve been watching them run out,” Robinson said. “I was in the end zone there right as they ran out. So the new jerseys, they excite the team a little bit. They give you something new you haven’t worn before.”

Robinson also opined that by the third quarter no one would care.

And Richt, while appreciating the negative reaction, said the most important thing was that the players liked it.

“It’s a special game; you know it’s not what we would call a traditional uniform,” he said. “But it’s not what we would call a traditional game. So that’s why we did it.”

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