April 25, 2005
There are times in the history of every football program when changes have been made to uniforms for various reasons. As most of you are aware, our football team will have new uniforms for the upcoming season. Coach Bowden wanted to make some changes with the uniforms primarily because of the new state-of-the-art material that provides for excellent durability and is significantly lighter than that we have used in previous seasons. Additionally, he is attuned to the thoughts of today’s players.
Primarily because of those factors — his players’ thoughts and the state-of-the-art material — led Coach Bowden to want to make some uniform changes. I think he did a good job of balancing the players’ thoughts and our traditions and what’s attractive in the recruiting process.
The end result is a conservative uniform that supports our basic traditions. It in no way approaches the wild designs that are seen with some uniforms. I recognize that some universities have not changed their uniforms in any shape, form of fashion and they have excellent programs. However, there are excellent programs that have changed. One of the most prominent programs — and one that I was close to for a number of years — is the University of Oklahoma, one of the most storied programs of all time.
A few years ago, they went to a speckled head gear and redesigned the OU mark. Although I was at Oklahoma State at the time, you could tune into talk radio or see issues brought forth through the media that indicated some unhappiness with the change. Having never had speckled head gear, there were those who felt there was not a need to redesign the OU mark. That now has passed and most people are happy with the end result.
As we have informally surveyed our history by examining the pictures hanging in Jervey Athletic Center, there have been 17 changes in our uniforms. Even after the Paw was developed, there were more uniform changes. I was not here at the time, but I can imagine that the move from the block C to the Paw created concerns.
We are very sensitive to our traditions. We have a wonderful history and tradition with our football program. We are going to do everything we can to safeguard that.
If people were to go through our facilities — whether it is the McFadden Building, the new dressing and weight rooms or Memorial Stadium — they would see we have expended significant resources to uplift and make prominent our traditions.
Again, I think Coach Bowden did a good job of balancing change while maintaining our basic traditions. The impression I get from our players is that they like our new design and material.
On another note regarding uniforms, many of our players (not just football) enjoy wearing the purple color. I have been asked, “Does that not take away from the Solid Orange theme?”
My answer is unequivocally no, because purple is a strong part of our tradition. Solid Orange is more than just wearing a color. Solid Orange is a show of our sense of unity, spirit and tradition. It’s about pride. That’s why we are going to promote Solid Orange as a way to prominently show our spirit.
We want to encourage our fans to wear orange. There is a reason highway workers wear orange. There is a reason hunters wear orange. It is such a bright and dominant color that it jumps out. Purple does not jump out in the stands or jump out when you are walking down the street.
We want Solid Orange to be our mantra across the university and in our communities. We want to create a Solid Orange environment so that when our student-athletes and our students in general see orange, they know there is a sense of spirit and unity on this campus.
It is more than just wearing a color at an athletic event. It’s a recognition of something that is much stronger. It’s recognition of this university and the students at this university and the pride we have in being a part of Clemson. That’s what Solid Orange is all about.
Terry Don Phillips
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