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The Aesthetics of Auburn Athletics, 2011

Michael Dyer, large print edition.

After weeks of discussing how Auburn has looked on-the-field, we now take the time to appreciate and critique how they looked off-the-field — unless, of course, we’re talking about the field.

In what is sure to once again raise discussion and incite a couple of riots in the comments below, we’ll take a close look at the tweaks, the sights, and the sounds of Jordan-Hare Stadium and the Auburn Tigers this season; as you can see in the photo above, some aspects require a much closer look than others.

Jordan-Hare Stadium

We’ll begin with the stadium, whose exterior changes were very well documented here at TWER, and which we thought for a moment was, along with the field, named after Coach Dye, Coach Jordan, and (Life) Coach Hare, before that was fixed. Along with the new signs hanging outside the stadium, we have updated player banners hung outside the south end zone, as well as a new national championship banner outside the north end zone.

All of the changes on the outside of the stadium look great — except, perhaps, for the still-developing shower curtain things near the club entrance. We’ll hold out judgement on that until it’s finished.

Moving to the inside, we find that Heisman trophy portaits have been placed around the Jumbotron, surrounded by logos commemorating the 2010 and 1957 championship seasons. All of these look great, except that the portrait with all three of the stadium namesakes looks a little crowded, and the advertising right underneath them makes it look a little tacky. At least most of the sponsors have classy ads (I think the timeless Coca-Cola logo might actually make Pat Sullivan look better) but others don’t blend so well. Looking at you, YellaWood.

On the field, not much appears to have changed (except that it’s five inches lower) besides the midfield logo, which now has the 50 and 45 yard lines running over it rather than stopping at it as it did last season. It gives the logo the appearance of being underneath the gridiron and yard markers as opposed to on top of it.

Finally, there is also the change in the goal posts, which are now white instead of yellow. Obviously, I hate it. It doesn’t make much sense, unless white is one of your two primary colors like it is for Alabama. The word on the tweet has always been that the new goal posts were put in for the high school state championship games last season and are retractable to fit the width for high school and college games, but why couldn’t the new ones be the same yellow? When I think of football, I think of it being played on real, natural grass between two tall, yellow goal posts.

The Uniforms

Auburn’s uniforms received a utility upgrade this season when Under Armour introduced some new, lightweight, more sophisticated equipment.

But aesthetically, most would agree that this year’s gear has been a major downgrade. We’ll begin with the pants, whose traditional stripes have always gone straight to the bottom of the pants, but this season tapers off and comes to a point.

I’m not as upset about this as most, because if you look closely you can see the pant piping that stretches around to the side and cuts off the striping. Function always comes before cosmetics, so of course it’s fine with me to change the striping to fit the functional design of the pants. I have a feeling that if they tried to keep the stripes going over the piping, and yet another thread below that, it would come out looking worse than it does now.

Still, the stripe just feels like a temporary thing. I’m fine with it for the time being, but in 10 years I can’t imagine Auburn still wearing stripes that come to a point on their pants. Hopefully they’ll be able to find some kind of workaround for the next batch of gear.

The pants have also come with new, metal belt buckles, which Onterio McCalebb evidently didn’t even feel the need to use last Saturday.

There’s also the small “War Eagle” on the belt line, which I don’t think bothers people nearly as much as they thought it would when we found out about it during the offseason.

Up top, Riddell doesn’t appear to have made any changes to Auburn’s helmet, although some players have sported some new chinstraps with the AU logo that don’t look so good. However, others have worn plain chinstraps with a small “Auburn” written on it; it must be up to the players.

When you look at Auburn’s new jerseys, the first thing you notice is the absolutely tiny names on the back. If you don’t think it’s a drastic change, just compare Lutzenkirchen 2010 to Lutzenkirchen 2011, where the 13-letter last name doesn’t even stretch beyond the 2-numeral number.

It’s not just an Auburn thing, however; South Carolina and other fellow Under Armour schools have been dealt the tiny, 8-point font. That doesn’t make it right. It’s strange and it doesn’t look very good, and I can’t give it a pass when the actual name-plate strip appears to be the same size as a usual jersey’s. There doesn’t appear to be any added function — just Under Armour using the schools to somehow show that they’re different from those Nike guys.

But it’s not just the names that have changed. The tighter sleeves have given the shoulder stripes a serious downgrade as well — just compare Lutzie 2010 to 2011 again. They’ve essentially been downgraded to sleeve patches instead of prominent stripes. Meanwhile, instead of hitting a ridge going down the arm as per the definition of the word “sleeve,” the stripes now awkwardly rest at kind of a 45 degree angle on the bowl of the shoulder.

We can hope that Under Armour’s new uniforms provide as much function to the players as they tout, because, honestly, they don’t look as good. This is how Auburn’s football uniforms are supposed to look. This just doesn’t. Hopefully Auburn can bow up to its outfitter and get the classy look back, on top of Under Armour’s newest and best gear.

The Videos

Finally we come to everyone’s favorite part (and the most controversial): The pregame Jumbotron videos.

We’ll start with the good, and that’s the pre-kickoff video, or as it has been coined, the Inspirational video.

Just like last year, the second video that plays right before kickoff has exceeded the actual introduction video that plays before the team’s entrance.

The song might not be everyone’s favorite this time around, but there’s only so many epic movie OST’s and Safe-For-Stadium songs out there that chill bumps respond to, so I’m not going to knock it.

As for the videography, I love all of the classic clips — so much so that I don’t want words written all over them. And it seems like the Heisman winners and the clips from last year’s national championship game should have their place in some other video, instead of the one playing right before the completely different, 2011 team takes the field. “Hey, there’s Pat, Bo, and Cam!… Too bad we’re not going to see any of those people today.”

But overall, the video is fine. Besides last year’s Inception video and, obviously, the golden standard 2004 “Rise” video, I can’t really name an Auburn stadium video that I’ve liked better.

The same can’t be said for this year’s intro video.

Never mind the critiquing, let’s just take a look at this video for what it is. For the first quarter of the video, we have Gene Chizik talking. He’s pandering to the fans — as if to say “Hey, we mentioned you. You can clap now.” — for what they call in the ‘rasslin business a “cheap pop,” or for what they call everywhere else, “butt-kissing.”

Then we get 15 seconds of players, play diagrams projected all over them, green screens, with highlights set to an awesome take from the “Inception” OST. Oh, it’s not that they don’t know how to make an awesome video, because they do, they just choose to make the awesome a few seconds long. Then when get more talking. Gene panders to the fans a second time — while we get closer, closer, and closer with some intense zooming in on his face — and then we see clips from last year’s team winning last year’s national championship last year.

Then we steal the “Tradition Lives Here” line from ESPN. Fantastic.

But the worst part? I never thought I’d admit I might actually take T-Pain back, but even if we somehow wanted to, we couldn’t. He’s already burned that bridge.

Original photo via.

Related: The Aesthetics of Auburn Athletics, 2010.

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