I will never feel bad speaking out against someone who is worth more than ten billion dollars. The thing about the economic crisis is, if you have ten billion dollars, you can lose 99.99% of your wealth and you're still a millionaire. Good stuff. Anyway, the reason Phil Knight is such a terrible human being is what he is responsible for doing to college football. There are two great philanthropists in division 1 ball: T Boone Pickens and Phil Knight, both of whom have given hundreds of millions of dollars to their alma maters (Oklahoma State and Oregon, respectively). Pickens' dollars have been used largely to renovate the facilities in Stillwater. Knight's influence, on the other hand, goes well beyond the expansion of Autzen Stadium. See, Phil Knight is the chairman of this little company called "Nike". And he has turned Oregon athletics into a walking billboard for his company. And nowhere is this more disturbingly evident than on the gridiron, where last night was the last straw for the Ducks.
See, over the last decade or so, Knight's influence on the aesthetic appearance of the Oregon football team has been great. They regularly try new things, virtually all of which make the person watching the team want to puke. Here's a look at the evolution of the Ducks' football attire:
Back in the 90's Akili Smith's Oregon teams had fairly ordinary jerseys. Yellow helmets, yellow pants, and green jerseys with yellow numerals at home, white jerseys with green numerals on the road. Very standard. Functional. That was the last time those two words could be used to describe Oregon's jerseys. Because in 1999, the Smith era ended, and the metallic era began.
The next era was the Joey Harrington era. This included the purchase (by Oregon, I believe, not Knight, though we know where the money comes from) of enormous billboards in major cities, trying to promote Harrington (and their new look). The era also included the introduction of the new-look helmet (ooo, shiny), a darker shade of green worn by the team, a change in the athletic logo, and the start of a new trend of using a ton of black in their jerseys.
After Harrington's years came the Kellen Clemens era. This is where shit just gets downright stupid. Random spots start showing up on the shoulder pads, and instead of piping on the pants, it's just sort of globs. Nice. But wait, it gets better.
Next is the Dennis Dixon era. More metal. Now the shoulder and knee pads have this fun new design that is supposed to look like steel, but instead just makes it look like the jerseys were made by Tibetan babies. Oh, right. And what the fuck is that font? Anyway, this era also ushered in the introduction of several new alternate options. In fact, in 2007, the team made sure to have a different look in every single game they played. This required the use of three different helmets, and various jersey/pants combinations. You may notice that only two helmets appear in that photo. Well, the third is fairly disgraceful.
This year, they had more or less followed the trend of 2007. That is, until yesterday, when they came out against Arizona in uniforms that are so far removed from anything that could be called a football jersey it almost made my head explode.
Even further, the whole trend of wearing black alternates at home during any game that anyone might consider a "big game" should probably stop, too. Programs like USC, Florida, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma don't do it, so why do FSU, South Carolina, Oregon and Maryland? Wear your school colors. That's why schools have colors.
Like UMass. Who lost 52-21 at UNH this weekend wearing maroon and white.
Basketball (1-1) vs. Memphis on Monday night should be a doozie.