The Nike World Domination Tour™ continued this weekend, as the craftsmanship of thousands of malnourished, unpaid children was put on display once more, this time at Sun Life Stadium, where the Hurricanes unveiled their fancy new threads in front of hundreds of fans who, no doubt, have never actually attended the University of Miami.
Three new helmets, four new jerseys, four new pairs of pants, and 48 (FORTY-EIGHT!) possible combinations of the three, according to UM’s sports information staff. You could theoretically go the next five years without ever seeing the University of Miami football team wearing the same thing twice, which is just so very Miami.
Each uniform color also has its own super cool code name, because God forbid we ever just call it orange or white or gray. There’s Juice, Stormtrooper, Surge, and Smoke. And by their powers combined, I am Captain Planet!
Let’s take a look at them, individually.
When I first saw Juice, the name totally made sense, even though orange juice is yellow and OJ Simpson is a murderer who went to USC. Nonsensical? Maybe a little. But, I still maintain that it’s a great nickname for the uniform.
The uniform itself is pretty straight forward, with only a few minor changes. The directional graphics that used to jut out from the neckline and take a sharp turn down toward the armpits are a little more conformist now that they basically follow the angle of the shoulder pads. It was never something amazing or incredibly innovative, but the old <chrome_find class=”find_in_page”>version felt a little bit like it was giving the middle finger to the tradional style, and I appreciated that; it felt like something Miami would do.
The new uniforms also do away with the piping on the side of the pants. When it comes to pants, I’m pro-piping; it’s a way to really add a unique style to a uniform. Nike does not share this opinion, obviously, even though they’ve done an excellent job of it in other sports.
One of the bigger changes to the orange jersey is the green shoulder tips. I’m not sure I love it; it seems a little random, but it’s not something I hate.
The main difference to the uniform — and it’s something you’ll notice across the entire fleet — is the inclusion of Tornado Ibis, the worst Hurricanes logo ever, on the sides of the pants and in those new shoulder tips. (FACT: If you type “University of Miami Hurricanes logo” into Google Images, that tornado logo doesn’t even show up, because even the internet doesn’t want you to remember that it exists.)
At one point I voted these orange threads my fourth favorite uniform in South Florida sports history, but after the subtle changes, I’m not so sure about that anymore. Maybe the orange top/white pants combo will change my mind.
Take all of the criticisms you just read about Juice and apply them here. There are a few positives, though.
My issues with the conformist shoulder lines remain but, because of the green-on-white contrast, they don’t look nearly as boring, especially when they connect with the new green collar. The green shoulder tips also work better on this jersey, but Tornado Ibis again negates any positive feelings I may have had about them.
These are probably the best <chrome_find class=”find_in_page”>version of the new look (combinations, exluded), but fans won’t get to see Stormtrooper in person, since these are listed as their road duds.
Okay, now the names are just getting ridiculous. I’m not sure what’s surging in this instance. Plants? Grass? Turtles? I can’t, for the life of me, think of a single green thing that surges. (Okay, I can think of one, but still.) I know nobody cares about these names except for the middle management mouth-breather who pats himself on the back daily for having come up with them, but, good God, are they stupid.
The all-green unis are crisp, but this darker jersey is probably where I would’ve busted out some bright orange (sorry…Juice) shoulder tips or something to liven it up a bit. It does work well with players wearing orange or white compression sleeves, though, so there’s that.
These new alternate anthracite “smoke” unis are a nice touch, but like the rest of the set, seem to just barely bother crossing the border of giving a damn. (Also, anthracite smoke. Like, not even regular smoke. Jesus, I hate marketing people so much.)
Inspired by the imagery of iconic 1980s Hurricanes football, these unis serve as “a reminder of the early pioneering pre-game smoke that opened every home game.” And in that regard, they are awesome.
The problem is that everything you just read between those quotation marks is a marketing department’s incredibly overcomplicated way of saying “gray.” Because that’s all these unis are.
There are any number of ways to incorporate the idea of “smoke” or nostalgia into a University of Miami football uniform redesign, but bringing back the same all-gray uniforms is about as uninspired a way as one could imagine. They look like generic Nike robots. Love the idea, hate the execution.
The traditional white helmet is back (minus the stripe down the center). That’s the good news. The bad news is that Nike really, really, really doesn’t want you to forget about Tornado Ibis.
There are two helmets besides the traditional white one: a white one with a sublimated Tornado Ibis design (shown above) and a shiny orange one with a sublimated Tornado Ibis design. You can see the design slightly less on the orange <chrome_find class=”find_in_page”>version, making that my second favorite helmet by default. The white helmet with the sublimated design, they can light on fire.
I expected so much more from the helmets, to be honest. An oversized, possibly angled logo, reflective colors, chrome facemasks, an etched outline of a U…something. Treat them like a blank canvas. You’re Nike. This is Miami. We let people paint on random city walls, call it art and open a coffee shop next to it. You can pretty much do anything you want down here and we’re okay with it. I really just wanted Nike to do something here. And I suppose the sublimated Ibis is that something. I just wish it were something else.
For a school and redesign so concerned with “swagger,” I thought the end result, as a whole, fell flat on its face. If there’s any city in America that would wholly and unapologetically embrace over-the-top, in-your-face design elements, it’s Miami. And, yet, here we are in 2014, with Nike showing off some boring <chrome_find class=”find_in_page”>version of a paint-by-numbers uniform template. (I mean, seriously, look at these Oregon uniforms and then try to convince yourself that Miami didn’t get screwed.)
48 different variations is intriguing, though, I can admit that. And maybe one or two of those will win me over, but the lack of anything even remotely exciting in these new uniforms leaves me less than hopeful.
In a way, what Nike did with this redesign fits the last decade of University of Miami football perfectly. A ton of hype and pomp, quickly giving way to the sobering reality of uninspired mediocrity.
For Nike and the University of Miami, this was all about the Z (ZZZZzzzzzz…)