Ohio State Football Forum

Ohio State Football Forum

Ohio State football fan talk.

Nike and College Football Uniform Culture today

0 HS
Brohio's picture
August 19, 2015 at 2:39pm

    I want to start this by saying I do not work for Nike, however I am decently connected there. I have been to Room 72 many many times (which won't mean much to you if you're not familiar with the inner workings of Nike) and I've seen some of the design process in action. The purpose of this is not to belittle anyone. It is simply here to serve as an educational tool for those that may not know, because I am so tired of reading posts demonizing all the apparel companies for ruining the tradition of College Football uniforms as if they are forcing it upon the schools. Every fan is entitled to their opinion of their favorite team's uniform, but I want to share this so that if you're one of those people, you know where to direct your rage. I've written about this in comments before, but figured more people would see if I posted here. 

   First and absolutely foremost: ALL UNIFORM CHANGES/ALTERATIONS ARE DONE AT THE INITIAL REQUEST AND FINAL APPROVAL OF THE UNIVERSITY. We (Ohio State) are requesting the changes that some of you hate so much. That is not my opinion, that is a fact. Nike isn't standing over our athletic department like monolithic Gods force feeding designs and changes upon us. Nike also isn't the only one profiting from the sales. OSU's coffers benefit just as much from sales of apparel as Nike, especially because we don't have to put up the production/design costs...so you see the motivation for the University to create alternates given our fanbase's appetite for merchandise.

     So here's how it works. An internal decision is made by Ohio State for an alternate, the relevant OSU staff give Nike's art direction team some guidelines and requests, and Nike in turn submits a series of options back to the University for approval. The uniform option presentations come back in nice little binders. I have held 2 of these in my hand (sadly, no Ohio State ones). They look identical to the packets that you've seen "mistakenly" left out in Urban's office prior to an alternate release. The University then has the final approval of the design. On top of that, Nike pays us 42.7 million dollars in cash and supplied equipment and apparel throughout our current contract for the privilege to do this. They also pay for 1 Ohio State student intern per year and pay a $10,000 bonus for bowl victories, as well as cover all production and research and development costs. So if you're one of the guys that says "Oh here comes Nike again to force us to mess up our traditional uniforms" your gripe is with the wrong people. 

    The only time this process has ever been altered was last year when Nike presented the idea to the universities to go with a special uniform for the playoffs. (Diamond Quest) I've heard but can't confirm this option was extended to other teams that were in the playoff hunt. So this is the only instance where Nike has come to the university asking for changes, to which you see FSU and Alabama ultimately declined (the only change on the Diamond quest jersey for Alabama/FSU was the playoff patch and the diamond swoosh), further showing that the Universities have the control when it comes to their brand and what their team takes the field in. Even everyone's favorite bad guy on this topic, Oregon, has the ultimate say in their final product. There are many videos available to the public showing you that Oregon's equipment managers are the ones that select the combinations the team wears and their role in the uniform process.  Penn State, Kansas State, Texas, and Alabama are other shining examples of who is really behind the wheel when it comes to brand control. They are all Nike schools, and they do not have an alternate (Yes Im aware Texas had a mild alternate that included a players number on the helmet, and Alabama had a Bear Bryant houndstooth collar on a jersey for a game, but for the most part they have never strayed from their originals). I don't know anyone at adidas or Under Armour, but the recent news of Michigan going to all white road uniforms at the request of Jim Harbaugh leads me to believe that the other companies operate exactly the same as Nike.

    To conclude, I'm not here to say you can't be pissed about a black jersey or a red helmet or whatever. That's your right. Just don't be the ignorant guy that is posting stuff as if Nike being this greedy demon standing on the throat of innocent old Ohio State pushing new designs upon them while Ohio State begs them to stop. It is simply not the case. Ohio State plays a bigger part in these changes than Nike. They do this to make money, stay modern and look more attractive to a generation of kids younger than us that grew up in a material culture that is beyond most of our comprehension. Do I like all the changes? No. But such is college football today. The sooner you accept the reality of it and move along to just supporting your team in whatever uniform they take the field in, the happier you'll be. 

Go Bucks.

This is a forum post from a site member. It does not represent the views of Eleven Warriors unless otherwise noted.

View 58 Comments