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Uniforms epitomize culture change in Aggie program (again)

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The focus on fashion (or lack thereof) marks difference in A&M program

Northwestern v Texas A&M Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The year is 2015. We were a full year away from Donald Trump being elected President, pro football fans are rapidly discussing the intricacies of deflating footballs, we all debated whether this dress was white and gold or blue and black, Texas A&M was “ QBU,” and most notably for this article, I wrote this:

Here’s a passage that has aged particularly poorly:

“...in a recruiting world where perception often supersedes reality, Sumlin and company have done what seemed virtually impossible four years ago: They’ve made A&M cool. Not just a military school with a big stadium and traditions, but a place that caters to young athletes, and a place they desire to be. In a place where often any change is perceived as change for the worse, they’ve built a visual identity off of constant change.

If all goes according to plan, the wins should follow, hopefully sooner than later. Until then, enjoy the fashion show. The recruits and players definitely do.”

As laughable as that claim may seem today, I still stand by my assertion that the uniform proliferation we saw under Kevin Sumlin played a big role in changing the perception of how the Texas A&M Aggies football program was perceived (though the SEC move and Johnny Manziel winning a Heisman helped a bit too). But as we learned, when new uniform combinations are coming faster than big home wins, they can get stale fast. And if crazy alternates and tricked up combinations personified the Sumlin era, then what the Aggies have been wearing under new coach Jimbo Fisher makes an equally significant statement.

Uniform combinations through seven games

(helmet color/jersey color/pants color)

  • 2016: 5 (M/M/W, W/M/W, W/W/M, 1956 throwback, M/W/W)
  • 2017: 5* (W/W/W, M/M/W, M/W/W, W/M/W, M/W/M
  • 2018: 3 (M/M/W, M/W/M, 1998 throwback)

*Wore alternate uniforms in game eight

The most obvious change is that the number of uniform combinations has been reduced, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. So far, with only one exception, A&M has worn this uniform at home, and this uniform on the road. And the one exception, the 1998 throwback uniform, was actually even simpler than the Aggies’ standard look.

This is consistent with Fisher’s practice at Florida State, who - with rare exceptions - stuck to a pretty consistent home and road uniform. That changed immediately under Willie Taggart, with Florida State wearing some sweet black uniforms in their embarrassing season-opening loss to Virginia Tech.

I’ve long been a proponent of fun uniforms, because they always seemed to be just that: harmless fun. The players like it, I personally enjoy it, and talking about what uniform the team will wear is something to look forward to each week as the game approaches. The AggieFBlife Twitter account (fittingly, now defunct) would even send out short video clips on game day to announce what uniform the team would be wearing.

Those days are over. Basically anything that doesn’t have to do with winning football games, Jimbo doesn’t really want any part of. The reduction in variety and flash in Texas A&M’s uniforms is a seemingly innocuous change, but one that is a part of Jimbo’s bigger mission to put the sole focus on football, and tune out anything that gets in the way.

You could argue that while wearing alternate uniforms or tricking up the combinations doesn’t necessarily help, it also doesn’t hurt anything. It’s just something completely ancillary for players, recruits and uniform nerds like myself to get a kick out of. That’s been my stance for years. But the message sent by Fisher and his staff is clear: it doesn’t matter what you are wearing, all that matters is how you’re playing.

After years of “all sizzle and no steak,” the simplified aesthetic approach is a refreshing change. But just as the message behind it implies, it’s meaningless if it isn’t accompanied by on-field results. The Aggies have shown some promising signs so far, let’s see if they can keep it up throughout the rest of the season where previous teams faltered.

Poll

What are your thoughts in A&M seemingly going away from multiple uniform combinations?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    I kinda miss them
    (336 votes)
  • 62%
    I’m glad we’re going with a no-nonsesee approach
    (1107 votes)
  • 18%
    I don’t care either way
    (325 votes)
1768 votes total Vote Now