What's Behind the Alternative Uniform and Helmet Craze in College Football?

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What's Behind the Alternative Uniform and Helmet Craze in College Football?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

New helmets. New uniforms. Alternate helmets. Alternate uniforms. Almost everyone in the college football game is doing it. Oregon may set the pace, but up and down the FBS, and even the FCS, ranks, new looks are becoming the norm.

What gives?

The answers here are pretty simple: money and marketing.

Money is the easiest answer. New jerseys mean new merchandise for fans to purchase. New things for fans to purchase means more cash for the apparel vendor and the school itself. New money is always a good thing, especially on the money-hungry streets of college football.

The second answer, marketing, not quite as simple to explain.

Fans instantly look at the new jerseys, new helmets and decide whether they like them or not. They decide to hate or love the matte black look. They debate the merits of jersey features. They agonize over the re-branding changes done to mascots.

Or, if they are the "get off my lawn" type purists, they simply complain about the changes and talk about how, "back in their day," everything was simple and teams had one uniform and the universe was simply better.

The mistake being made here is that fans think that these efforts are being taken to please them.

Yes, they want you to buy the new logo and the jersey, but good fans will do that anyway. They might complain about it, but when the time comes to support their team, they'll put on the polo shirt with the redone logo to make sure they are current at the game.

Money for the new merchandise is going to come in, the real target for these moves are the kids who play, or will play for the school. The guys making up your current roster, and the talented high schoolers that fans hope get persuaded to show up on campus, are the target market.

Joe Fan does not like the chromed out helmets? So, what, Willie the Wide Receiver thinks they are dope and he is excited about getting to wear fresh gear.

Josephine Fan does not like the alternate color jerseys with the gloves to match? Who cares, because 4-star Rick the Recruit thinks they are pretty chill and enjoyed seeing all of the combinations when he was on his visit to campus.

That's not to say that uniforms are the "hard sell" to get recruits, rather, they are perks of being at a given institution, as we've discussed at Your Best 11 before.

So, while the media coverage of uniform reveals is nice, the like-dislike and ugly-cool chatter being had by adults who are incredibly inconsequential to the winning of football games is a lot of wasted breath. The cash is a great byproduct of something in which players, current and future, have a real interest.

The guys out there balling on Saturdays like to look fresh, and sometimes fresh comes with a new look. The future ballers like to see what their freshness options happen to be and imagine just how dope they could look in a myriad of uniform stylings.

This marketing is for them.

Money and marketing drive the craze. Fans like to stay current, and re-branding helps push that agenda. Players like to stay fresh, and schools, with apparel outfitters, market to that desire. The driving forces behind the new uniforms and helmet craze are not magic, they're simple: Give one group what they want and create demand among another group in the process.

Then reap the benefits.

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