Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
It’s more about the green than the cardinal
NWA Media/ANDY SHUPE - University of Arkansas student-athletes model newly designed uniforms featuring a unified design across all sports during the third annual HOGSPY Awards ceremony Monday, April 21, 2014, at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.
The first news release came at 8:59 Tuesday morning with pictures of T-shirts and hats featuring the new Arkansas Razorbacks secondary logo and how you can buy all things in the new and improved cardinal color online.
The good news is the color has barely changed, and it is supposedly the true cardinal color. The bad news is that anthracite lives.
Since Nike created the dark gray uniform for Arkansas, it makes sense it would want to keep it alive. It doesn’t make sense to most Razorbacks fans.
The new forward-facing Razorback logo is long overdue, and it looks as fierce as the old one, which will remain in play and will be displayed prominently on the football helmet.
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Let’s get this out there once again: When you hear or see the words “model” and “brand” in the same sentence, they equal money.
Changing colors has always been a way to produce revenue through the sale of hats, T-shirts and anything else that can feature the logo or words.
Like techies and cell phones, a lot of football fans always want the latest sports fashion statement. And, other than the anthracite, this color change is mild.
The new forward-facing Razorback looks great on T-shirts and hats. That’s just a fact. It’s also a fact that all schools need their percentage of sales from Nike, which stands to make the most money off changing the colors and creating a new logo.
Nike is big business. It didn’t become one of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world by losing money and having bad ideas (although anthracite uniforms were not a good idea).
Since the first track shoe that featured the waffle-type rubber soles - and that was long before the swoosh was added - to the latest Air Jordans, Nike has been cutting edge in sports apparel and has made more money than six generations of family could spend.
Nike is a great American success story and its marketing has been sheer genius, aligning itself with the most well-known athletes and schools.
Probably one of the most asked questions by recruits of all sports is whether a school wears Nike gear.
Until the past few years, you were either a Nike school or you wanted to be a Nike school.
Nike has made some mistakes, like getting too involved in summer basketball, but mostly it has provided a good product that returned a good profit.
That is the primary reason the Razorbacks are changing to a more true cardinal color and definitely why a new logo was created.
The question is how Arkansas and Illinois were chosen for all new gear. It is easy to understand Florida State. It is the defending national champion in football. Arkansas is coming off a 3-9 season and Illinois was 4-8 last season.
Still, they were chosen, and except for the continuation of using anthracite - which you just can’t make sense of, especially when a change was made to get back to the true cardinal color - the gear you can buy and the uniforms the players will wear look pretty good.
No doubt it will be available soon at every place that sells Razorback paraphernalia, and some fans will buy the latest styles and colors while others will stick with what they own until it wears out.
It is the way of college athletics and has been for a very long time. This is not a case of Athletic Director Jeff Long trying to ignore history or tradition, but a marketing tool that all schools use to raise revenue.
It will probably create a little controversy for a few days - and, to beat a dead horse, anthracite just doesn’t make sense - but it isn’t just the University of Arkansas that is doing this. Most likely, dozens of colleges and universities are envious.
Sports, Pages 19 on 04/23/2014