SALT LAKE CITY — According to some coaches, Boise State, which hasn't lost a home football game since 2001, has an unfair advantage. It has nothing to do with preparation or a creative playbook or recruiting.
It's their uniforms.
The Mountain West Conference recently announced that the Broncos cannot wear their all-blue uniforms for league home games — opposing coaches think it makes them, ahem, invisible on their blue turf field, especially while scouting film. "What we had heard from our coaches is 'a competitive advantage,' " said commissioner Craig Thompson.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen was upset that his team can't wear one of the Broncos' favorite gridiron ensembles. "I thought it was ridiculous," he said.
He got that right. It is ridiculous, and not merely for the reason he thinks. What in the name of Dick Butkus is going on in football these days? Have you noticed how many teams have third jerseys (or more), throwback jerseys, "special edition uniforms," "combat uniforms," uniforms that reverse the primary and secondary colors, etc., etc?
During the last few years, football coaches — guys who used to wear Sans-A-Belt slacks — have turned into Ives St. Laurent. They're mixing and matching uniforms like Ken and Barbie.
Did you hear Petersen's response to the fuss over the all-blue unis?
"Nike has saved us by giving us a bunch of different combinations," Petersen said. "... If we can't wear what we want to wear, then we will wear a bunch of different other stuff."
What a relief! The Broncos have white, orange and blue pants and white, orange, blue and gray jerseys. The toughest decision Petersen has to make each week is what to wear on Saturday night.
"We've got enough color combinations that we'll still look good on the blue," says quarterback Kellen Moore.
And Vince Lombardi just puked.
Since when did football teams start coordinating their "outfits" with the field and mixing and matching their ensembles? Can anyone imagine Mike Ditka, Jack Lambert or Ray Nitschke fussing over their gridiron attire like a bunch of teenage girls.
What am I going to wear tomorrow?!"
One season it was reported that Oregon had a possible 384 different uniform combinations of jerseys, helmets, socks, pants and shoes. A year later that number increased to 512. They've got more outfits in their closet than Lady Gaga. Remember when a team had two uniforms — a light one and a dark one? Now they're wondering how to accessorize with their helmets.
From the NFL to the NCAA, it's one big sashay down the runway. The Seattle Seahawks can strut their stuff in a lovely lime-green jersey with white and dark green trim. It's from their spring collection.
The Patriots have a third jersey that is — ooh-la-la! — silver.
The Dolphins, Bears and Broncos all have orange jerseys. It's from their road construction collection.
The Chargers have powder-blue jerseys to go with white pants when they get tired of wearing the same old thing (and want to sell more gear), and the Ravens have a black jersey they can wear instead of their purple outfit.
Nine college teams will wear "special" uniforms for one game this season — Boise State, Michigan State, Army, Georgia, LSU, Navy, Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford. Their "outfits" are called "pro combat uniforms," whatever that means.
Almost everyone is wearing alternate uniforms. Florida has a "gator skin" jersey. Miami has an orange ensemble. Virginia Tech has got an all-black uniform. Indiana and Maryland will make new fashion statements this season.
Not that it seems to create much of a competitive advantage. Remember when Utah broke out their military camouflage jerseys in a big game against TCU last year, then got routed like the Republic Guard?
The previous season TCU wore "Combat" uniforms against the Utes and accessorized them with a helmet that featured a "horned frog skin print" with red lines that represented the blood that a horned frog will shoot from its eyes when under attack. N-i-i-i-ce.
But now that is so yesterday. TCU coach Gary Patterson recently appeared at a press conference in which three of his players modeled their new unis, which consist of several different ensembles — a cute purple top with black pants or the more formal black top look with spiffy purple pants, plus the all-white road uniform with black accents.
Here is how one writer described TCU's gridiron fashions in the Horned Frogs Examiner — "a black jersey features purple lining on the collar and sleeves while the numbers are a crisp white;" (the pants have) a scaling pattern and "a black stripe runs along the sides and wraps across the back rear ... a purple belt finishes the ensemble." Cleats "feature the scaled skin look of the horned frog — overall the 2010 uniform builds off the look created in 2009."
Just one question: Is this football we're talking about — or figure skating?