LSU’s Nike Pro Combat uniforms – the full abomination

Nike is set to unveil the next worst moment in LSU football history today. And though they can’t top Les Miles’ performance in the last minute of the Ole Miss game, they come sort of close.

I give you the LSU Nike Pro Combat uniform in all its abominable glory:

LSU's Nike Pro Combat uniform

LSU's Nike Pro Combat uniform


So let’s break this ugly mother down.

Nike’s “theme” for the uniform is “Cochon de Lait” because it’s being worn for the Arkansas game. The concept is described on Nike’s Pro Combat site thusly:

The Bayou Bengals are planning an old-fashioned pig roast, complete with an updated dress code inspired by the legendary LSU teams of the 1940s.

As I pointed out before, of course, there wasn’t anything particularly legendary about LSU football in the 1940s. No national titles, no SEC titles, one bowl win, .600 winning percentage. So in the press release that goes out today, Nike has changed the notion of this “tribute” somewhat:

The uniform draws inspiration from LSU teams of the 1940s, led by legendary Tigers quarterback Y.A. Tittle. A dark gold helmet is a similar tone to the look worn by the Tigers during Tittle’s era. The color also represents the Golden Boot that LSU will play for on November 28, as it does annually.

So now the teams weren’t legendary, just Y.A. Tittle. At least they seem to understand history a little better now.

OK, so a top to bottom examination of this monstrosity.

The helmet:
lsu_pro_combat_helmet

Hey, hold on a second. Something’s a little off between the helmet shown in the full uniform shot and the one in the helmet detail.
helmet_compare

Did LSU’s administration grow a spine? The helmet shown in the detail looks pretty familiar, and it’s definitely not the Washington shade of gold. Interesting. We’ll have to see what’s officially rolled out today, I guess.

But the concept is this tribute to the storied years of the 1940s … I mean Y.A. Tittle. That gold (edit: the “old gold”, not the current gold), of course, is closer to the gold worn by the legendary teams of the 1940s … I mean Y.A. Tittle. Mr. Tittle, of course, didn’t have the current LSU helmet logo on his helmet; that didn’t come along until 1977. If what we see is the old gold helmet with no logo (which seems like what’s in the full-uniform shot), then that’s probably Nike’s original concept. If we see the helmet that’s the current LSU color (or close to it) and logo, I guess that means LSU balked at the wholesale change. And I guess that’s a good thing, but the results would be even uglier than the full Nike concept.

If they are going to bill this as a tribute to the storied 1940s Tigers … I mean Y.A. Tittle (as opposed to, say, the 1958 National Championship team), at least be true to the history. This just comes off as a hideous compromise of Nike and LSU’s ideas.

UPDATE: Photos are in from the “pep rally” on campus today unveiling these things. The helmet is I guess the “old gold” (looks a little different in natural light?). Hey, I only posted what Nike provided, and they still show the yellower version in their media material.

LWEMEGXASZRTCEU.20091123205034

The jersey:
lsu_pro_combat_jersey

Below the helmet, there’s really nothing at all that would identify this getup as an LSU uniform. Those aren’t our shades of purple and gold. We don’t outline our numbers like this. Our stripes stand proudly on our shoulders, not crammed in to the tiny remnants of sleeves modern jerseys have. And our stripes are gold in the middle with purple borders, not the other way around.

Again, they’re selling this as a tribute to the jersey Y.A. Tittle wore. Yeah, OK. It’s true that in the 1940s we had stripes on our sleeves instead of our shoulders. But back then, they actually had sleeves. With no proper sleeves to speak of, the notion of this as a “tribute” falls apart. And, again, if they had gone with a “tribute” to the 1958 team, we’d not only still have our proper colors, but we’d have stripes on the shoulders. But that would get in the way of the “high tenacity yarn” on the shoulders that Nike sells as a major feature of this uniform. Can’t get in the way of Nike marketing, you know.

The pants:
lsu_pro_combat_pants

White pants. Enough said there. Never should happen with LSU. And, of course, Nike feels the need to stylize the stripes. And the “L” on the leg? I’ve never seen just an “L” linked to LSU except for in Everybody’s All American, when LSU officials didn’t want our actual name associated with a dirty movie. edit: comments here and elsewhere about the use of “L” with LSU apart from the uniforms specifically have changed my mind. I’m OK with the “L”, but still think LSU was stupid for not letting Everybody’s All American call its team “LSU”.

Shoes:
lsu_pro_combat_shoes_profile

lsu_pro_combat_shoes_detail

lsu_pro_combat_shoes_top

If Nike is honoring Y.A. Tittle with this uniform, they must be honoring M.C. Hammer with these shoes. Just … wow. These don’t look like shoes that would actually, you know, perform well on the field. But I suppose Nike does know what they are doing there. Before they became a fashion house, they used to make shoes.

The getup also includes gloves with fancy designs, but those aren’t worth the bandwidth. The gloves do carry the sole appearance of LSU’s stupid “eye of the tiger” logo, and the only good news about this hideous uniform is that the “eye” doesn’t seem to appear elsewhere.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m really not happy that LSU is turning over its season finale this weekend to Nike for an infomercial. You can count on a segment in the broadcast Saturday night where the sideline reporter talks about the technology of the uniform, how it’s lightweight, how modern players are more like track stars, etc. It’s a marketing gimmick, not a “tribute”. And shame on LSU for participating.

It should also be noted that LSU appears to be the program that’s allowed Nike to screw with its identity the most for this infomercial series. The historically-inaccurate helmet logo (and color?) is really the only thing that would identify these players as being an LSU team. I don’t think any of the other 10 teams (Clemson apparently is a part of this, but they aren’t on the promo site) had their colors changed, and I know none of them allowed both a color change and radical change in uniform design.

It’s sad. You’d think a head coach that’s been with the program for just under five years, an athletic director that’s been with the program for 17 months and a chancellor that’s been with the program for 15 months would be better guardians of LSU’s identity. Actually, I guess you wouldn’t think that.

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26 Responses to “LSU’s Nike Pro Combat uniforms – the full abomination”

  1. [...] Posts LSU’s Nike Pro Combat uniforms – the full abomination  |   LSU / Ole Miss: The Judgment  |   More details on [...]

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  3. mike g says:

    these uniforms are dope.

  4. damon says:

    Your a fucking idiot Ken!!!! Eat a fucking dick

  5. damon says:

    if you know anything about LSU athletics or even just LSU you would know why the “L” logo is on there. Before you open your mouth know your facts first!!!

  6. geauxstrider says:

    uh ken… that gold is LSU gold….

  7. Cap'n Ken says:

    @damon – clearly you are superior intellectual being. Enlighten me on the history of the “L”.

    @geauxstrider – which gold are you referring to? That’s the confusing thing about this getup: are they going with the gold (in the helmet) that’s shown in their original uniform pic, the gold helmet they are showing now or what? Like I said, I would get it (but not like it) if they were using the gold of the 40s in the uniform they say is a nod to the 40s, but if they back out of that to go with the current yellowish gold, that’s just strange (but preferable to me).

  8. geauxstrider says:

    from what i understand – they are going with GOLD this week and the nike helmets in the future – in yellow.

  9. geauxstrider says:

    oh and the L… was the primary emblem for LSU for many years… just go look at some old photos…

    the letterman jackets had an L.. not LSU…

    baseball team had L on caps up until the late 70s

  10. Cap'n Ken says:

    @geauxstrider – I guess we should see whatever they’re unveiling here anytime now, but Nike is really confusing things. All of the images here come straight from them; they show the yellow helmet in their PDFs describing the Pro Combat uniform, etc. That’s the confusing part. But I’m just posting what they have out there – they don’t show the “old gold” helmet in any of their material that actually describes the uniform.

    And I guess I wasn’t clear about the L. I’m talking about its use on the football uniform. Was there ever just an L on the uniform?

  11. Brian says:

    I think I just threw up a little bit.

  12. Me says:

    I’ve seen a L associated with LSU. Go to a campus store and look for an old hate for sell. Also our colors are purple and gold we currently use purple and yellow. We try to sound classy by saying gold. The stripes on the shoulders do suck though. It’s one game get over it. Change is fine. It cold be worse. If we use tradition then we should go back to the first uniform and leather helmet instead the uniform we use now

  13. Cap'n Ken says:

    @Me – so you’ve been upset for the past 55 years or so that we use “yellow” instead of “gold”? Tradition doesn’t mean you dress like the team that went to Cuba in 1907. We established a look in the 1950s that frankly is freaking awesome. If you don’t value that tradition, fine. And, again, I should have made it clear that I’m not saying we never have used an “L”, just that it’s not a uniform element. And now looking at and thinking through the historical use of the “L”, it doesn’t really bother me.

    I really just wanted to get in that dig about not letting Everybody’s All American call us “LSU”.

  14. damon says:

    The “L” use to be used on the football coaches polos and are still used on our football players letterman’s jackets also if you knew anything about the history of LSU football, legendary LSU coach “Cholly” Mac wore his signature “L” baseball cap. The original mad hatter.

    Before the interlocking LSU logo or LSU written in the geaux font there was just “L” ………..

    Buddy you must be real young or don’t know jack about LSU I’m in my mid twenties and know all of this plus a lot more. I suggest before you go on bashing what you really don’t know you might want to do just a little research.

  15. Ellis Hugh says:

    The ALL white just does not cut it…Nike ought to be ashamed of themselves and our AD is a fool for allowing this to take place…He knows nothing of the love that LSU fans have for our home uniforms that we have loved for the past 5 or 6 decades…

  16. Cap'n Ken says:

    @damon – I don’t know if you’re a student at LSU, on staff there or just using their network, but I already figured I’m probably older than you (LSU ’91). I don’t know a lot of people who use “Eat a fucking dick!” as thoughtful criticism and most people I know know the difference between “you’re” and “your”. So again, fairly obvious you’re either relatively young or relatively stupid. Or both.

    And as I said in one of the follow-ups, I should have been clearer about believing the “L” to be misplaced. I referenced its use in a general sense, but was intending it to be related to being on the actual football uniform. My mistake. Like Les, I own the mistake and have a tremendous want to not make mistakes.

  17. Miles is a Goober says:

    I’m sure Miles will use the new threads as an excuse for not calling the right play or having the personnel to fit the down and distance situation because Miles isn’t smart enough to recognize what team he is coaching.

  18. damon says:

    Its the internet buddy not english class i can pick apart my post, your post or any other person’s post on here if you like….normally when a person results in being a grammar nazi it’s when they have no rebuttal or counter argument with substance. My bad on the misspelling and sorry about the dick eating thing i said.

    As for the uniforms you might not know this but the players love them and had a say so.

  19. Cap'n Ken says:

    @damon – I think you have to understand that when you lead off with a comment of “Eat a fucking dick!”, you’re not exactly setting yourself up as a rational participant in discussion. But despite that, I’ve actually addressed the substance of all of your comments here. You came off as very juvenile, so I said that. But enough of that sniping; I’m with you there.

    Now, you do say something in the last comment that I take issue with – not just with LSU’s participation in the Nike thing but generally with “special” uniforms (Richt’s “blackouts”, the UT Halloween jersey, etc.). You talk about the players liking it, and that’s something that’s thrown around a lot.

    Here’s my view on that: Especially when you’re talking about a program with “tradition” (i.e. not Oregon), the wants and likes of the players are very secondary to the standards of the program. Players are in a program for five years. LSU’s uniform is a 50+ year tradition that is “owned” by the collective supporters of LSU football. I don’t believe any LSU coach or administrator should bend those traditions to make current players happy.

    If you’re not a traditionalist, I imagine you wouldn’t agree with that. And that’s fine. But I believe that LSU football should have the interests of somebody like me* in mind above the interests of players who will be a part of the program for five years or even a coach who may be here somewhat longer than that. The coach, the A.D. and the university administration should be stewards of our traditions, not servers of players wants and desires.

    I remain grateful to Gerry DiNardo because he won back LSU’s right to wear white jerseys at home. That was a great thing. And I don’t like that Saban put in the policy of wearing purple jerseys for patsy games that aren’t home openers. Miles had deviated from that a couple of times and worn white. I’d like to think he’s being a good steward of the program, but frankly I figure he just doesn’t remember when we’re supposed to wear purple.

    So I don’t want to see LSU make changes to our traditions to please the current style desires of players. And that’s not really what’s happening here – we’re trying to please Nike for money (presumably). But it’s a notion that bothers me. If a player doesn’t like the LSU image and want to be a part of our traditions, let them go someplace else.

    * I grew up in Baton Rouge, went to my first game in 1977, dressed as an LSU player for Halloween, attended LSU, was at the Earthquake game, suffered through two Sugar Bowl losses in the late ’80s, have been to LSU games at most of the other SEC stadiums, was at the Sugar Bowl in 2003 when we won the National Championship, once got off a four-hour flight in Atlanta at 5:30 a.m. and drive directly to Baton Rouge for a game against TROY, have driven down from Atlanta to be on campus for the last two home games against Florida knowing I wouldn’t have a ticket and this season traveled to Seattle for the opener against Washington. And I’m really not special. There are lots of people like me who have invested a large chunk of their lives in LSU football.

  20. cta says:

    Like em a lot.

  21. THE_U says:

    FYI The Colors and Slogan CAME FROM THE COLLEGE… NOT NIKE….BLAME LSU..

  22. Jim Bob Cooter says:

    I went to LSU ’64 – ’67… Flunked out. Too many Falstaff’s, Jax’s and PBR’s and back then they were only $.35 apiece. Today’s uniforms are basically the same as those back then. I’m all for tradition BUT, I like new uniforms. It’s not like it’s a forever deal. I live near Atlanta now and go see the Tigers every time the play in the Georgia Dome (SEC Championship’s, Peach/Chick Fil A Bowls). I don’t care what uniform they wear so long as I can see them play.

  23. Rich L says:

    Get over yourself. My history is a lot like yours, except my first game was in 1966. I have probably been to 400 games in that time. I love tradition, but this whole thing is ridiculous. It’s 1 game! So what, they sold themselves for $. Just check out the
    scoreboards, you can’t find them without weaving your way thru
    large ads from their major “partners”.

    Moving on. Others have already set you straight on the “L”.
    The old gold is reminiscent of unies pre-yellow gold, shoulder
    stripes & helmet logos. Where they missed a MAJOR element of the throwbacks was the pants. They should be old gold as well, and the stripes are inverted. If you check out the classic promo shot of Jimmy Taylor you’ll see what I mean. In my opinion, they should have gone with the gold pants, or with the 1958 uni with a dull yellow gold & the old school #’s on the hats & jerseys.

    What LSU needs to do for the uni in the future, is get the stripes going around the shoulder again (it’s all about cost, cheap bastards), & redesign the butt ugly Purple jerseys.
    Remember this, the promotion is about uniform technology & Nike is using their “partners” to promote it.

    Screw all this talk & Geaux Tigers!

  24. Ryan says:

    Just went to the game. The uniforms looked legit. The jersey and shorts were alright, but the helmets and shoes looked awesome, and a lot of fans at the game were really impressed. The helmets also made the LSU logo look a bit updated, without having to alter the logo itself.

    Anyway, I just got a good look at them in person, and they looked great.

  25. Cap'n Ken says:

    Those of you who have commented on how “awesome” the uniforms (or at least the helmets) looked apparently aren’t alone. People I know have also said the same.

    And, sure, the helmets look “good”. Anything with an LSU logo on it is going to look “good” in my eyes. And Washington’s uniforms, Ga. Tech’s uniforms, Notre Dame’s uniforms, etc. are also quite handsome. But they are not LSU’s colors, at least as currently defined.

    I never knew there was such distain for LSU’s 50+ year image – the “yellow” gold, specifically.

    I suppose I am in the minority in preferring our non-special-event look (both for the tradition and also the distinctive look LSU has compared to other “gold” programs). So be it.

  26. Tigress says:

    I saw the uniforms in all it’s full Glory first hand, and yes they look awesome! I think they have the best looking uniforms in college football. The shoes and helmets shine like gold. Nothing but the best for the Tigers. I love the top and pants, they look clean and classic. As for the “L”-it was the first thing I noticed. reminded me of the older days. Thought it was nice to incorperate it into the uniforms. Mr. Cap’n Ken do I sense a little jealousy? You hardley mentioned anything positive.

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