Throwback uniforms were months in the making

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Arkansas running back Darren McFadden runs the ball during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007, in Little Rock.
Photo by Rick McFarland
Arkansas running back Darren McFadden runs the ball during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007, in Little Rock.

— The Darren McFadden-era throwback uniforms unveiled by Arkansas on Tuesday were a long time coming.

Jake Rosch, the Razorbacks' director of football equipment, said he has heard fans clamor for a version of the uniform - worn by Arkansas between 2005-07 - since he began working for the program in 2014.

Shortly after he was hired in December 2017, Arkansas coach Chad Morris began working with Rosch and others within the department to make the throwback uniforms a reality.

"Coach Morris loved it as soon as he saw it," Rosch said. "He pushed really hard to get it earlier, but he understands how all of that stuff takes time. We wanted to make sure it was done right and it's something the fanbase would be proud of, and love to have back in the rotation."

Arkansas submitted the design to Nike in the spring of 2018, but did not receive the uniforms until this summer. Rosch said Nike typically tells schools to expect a turnaround of about 18 months on uniform projects.

"It takes time, which is good," Rosch said. "It makes sure you do it right - you dot your Is, cross your Ts and make sure everything looks exactly like you want it to.

"It's not a quick turnaround like most people probably think."

The throwback uniform will not be the Razorbacks' only worn in 2019. The program did not order a white version of the jersey top, which displays the word "Arkansas" in bold, all-caps letters.

"This is just an alternate we're adding to our repertoire for uniforms," Rosch said. "It's not going to be a mix and match as far as this jersey mixed with other pants. This jersey will be a set and that's how it will be worn.

"I'm not sure how much we'll wear it, but we will wear it. You'll see it in Razorback Stadium."

Rosch said you might also see the uniform away from Fayetteville. The Razorbacks expect to wear their home uniforms nine times during the regular season - in the six games in Fayetteville; the Missouri game in Little Rock; the Texas A&M game in Arlington, Texas; and the game at LSU, which wears white jerseys at home.

"We knew the opportunity to wear it would be much greater having that number of home-uniform games," Rosch said.

The Razorbacks have retained all of their jerseys from last season - tops and bottoms colored red, white and anthracite, and red, white and chrome-colored helmets.

Rosch said the decision on which uniform combinations are worn and how often will be left up to Morris, who in the past at SMU and Arkansas has selected several jersey variations to help appeal to recruits.

Shortly after he was hired, Morris was asked whether he liked the anthracite-colored jerseys worn by the team in 2016 and 2017. Anthracite is a grayish color that is not an official school color at Arkansas, but that has become popular among several schools.

“I’m 49 years old and unfortunately 49-year-old people don’t play at the University of Arkansas,” Morris said in January 2018. “It’s about 18-year-olds.

“So maybe if I had an 18-year-old and ask what he thinks about anthracite, and this guy can run a hole in the wind and he likes anthracite and he can catch everything thrown at him and tackle everything that comes around - I like anthracite, too. If he doesn’t like anthracite, I don’t like anthracite.”

Arkansas never wore the anthracite jerseys in Morris' first season, but Rosch said they were available. On Tuesday, Rosch said Morris tends to lean to more traditional looks.

Jake Rosch (pictured) said glossy helmets reintroduced last season will help blend with the throwback uniforms that will be worn in 2019.

"I think Coach really likes the tradition of the school and wants to stick more with the cardinal and white, and not go too crazy one way or the other and mix and match, and do all these different things," Rosch said. "He wants to kind of tone it in and look classic and clean every Saturday.

"The trend we've seen lately is more throwback stuff. We're also in our conference...(where) tradition kind of wins out over doing all kinds of different stuff all the time. That's what we're trying to fall in line with."

Rosch, who grew up in Wisconsin and went to college at Iowa State, said he associated the McFadden-era uniforms with Arkansas prior to working for the Razorbacks.

He said multiple former players including Ryan Mallett and Chris Gragg, who never wore the uniform, were complimentary of the throwback design because they, too, associated it with the program while growing up.

"It's a cool thing to see that it matters that much to the former players," Rosch said, "not just the fanbase, but the former players as well, and even the ones that didn't wear it associate it with Arkansas football and their fond memories of it."


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