The University of Arkansas had a surge in publicity yesterday, and to the contrary of what Lane Kiffin believes, the negative variety is not good.
The multiple suspensions handed out for the Razorbacks' men's basketball team, while anticipated, can be taken as a step back for the program with the inaccuracy and twist in the way it is delivered by many media outlets.
But alas, there is a positive change on the horizon.
The University of Arkansas has reached an agreement with Nike Inc. to be the new exclusive provider of apparel and shoes for all of the athletic department's nineteen sports. This change will take effect on July 1, 2010.
Not a big deal? Just clothes and shoes?
Oh, it means much more than that.
Arkansas' current exclusive provider is Adidas. They make very good products, but in all honesty they are not the most desired brand of the young athletes across the country. Who can name the Adidas slogan off the top of their head (I apologize if you can)?
Nike, on the other hand, is that desired worldwide brand and everyone knows to "Just Do It" or "Air" and "Jordan." The swoosh is as strong of a universal symbol in branding as there is, and certainly the top branding symbol in all of sports.
There are recruits in sports that let what brand a team wears impact their college decision. Most notably in basketball and football, where many players decide what they like to wear in their pee wee leagues and stick with those brands all of their lives.
In the design of uniforms, many of the most recognized in the country are designed by Nike. Many Arkansas fans have voiced displeasure with the current new-look football uniforms being sported by the Razorbacks that Adidas designed. Nike will bring a change, and while it could be controversial (see the Oregon uniforms), it also will most likely be a hit with the young athletes.
But, I can hear the old school, traditional Arkansas fans now, "just don't change the helmet!"
It has also been pointed out that Adidas has used the same template of the new Arkansas uniforms for other teams' new looks. Most notably, division rival Mississippi State has new uniforms that are identical other than, obviously, the name and color on the jersey.
Keep an eye out for that in two weeks, when the Hogs and Bulldogs face off in Little Rock, if you were not aware of the similarity.
All of this may seem meaningless to many of you, but Arkansas has joined an exclusive group of athletic programs chosen by Nike to have an agreement for all sports.
This is a change that will impact recruiting, perception, marketability, and appearance.
With all of these positive impacts, it is easy to see why the Hogs have decided to make the change and "just do it."
Image courtesy of ArkansasRazorbacks.com