So at first there was this cuh-razy rumor that Auburn would be wearing blue pants this week. But then it was shot down emphatically by P-Marsh. And Chizik his own self told the media there’s nothing going on. But there’s now also the little matter of what looks for all the world like an officially-commissioned blue helmet. And Chizik seemed to provide his own wink-wink acknowledgment of the rumors at Wednesday’s student pep talk. And, you know, maybe there’s a reason they’ve been pumping this “True Blue” stuff all week at the AUfficial site. So now all anyone wants to talk about is uniforms and “Blue Outs” and Project Runway: Auburn Edition and stuff.
Which makes some sense, actually. Clemson is Auburn’s biggest nonconference game of the season, the first big game of the year at home, a must-win to preserve Auburn’s national standing given how much Clemson lost from their 2009 squad and the ACC’s current state of struggle. Games like this don’t come along every week. But they do come along every other year or so … whereas Auburn hasn’t bothered with any major change in its uniforms, not even for a one-off, since Doug Barfield broke out the orange jerseys in the late ’70s. Even if “who’s going to win?” is a much more important question than “what’s Auburn going to wear?”, the latter gets asked so rarely that it’s no wonder that that’s the question everyone wants an answer to.
The wager here is that the answer is … Auburn’s regular uniform. I might be inclined to take Chizik’s denials with a grain of salt (especially after the pep talk), but that even someone as plugged-in as P-Marsh can’t turn up anything but “it’s not happening” makes me think it’s not happening.
I think it’s fair to assume that someone at Auburn is at least considering some kind of variation–there’s too much smoke, particularly looking at the helmet photo–to think there’s no fire. Someone’s probably commissioned some prototypes. But it’s still a long way from “picture of blue helmet appears on Internet/Internet guys say there’s blue pants around” to “Auburn takes field in all-blue uniforms.” I’ll believe it when I see it.
As for whether I think it’s a good idea … well, I don’t, honestly, for reasons I’ll get into in a second. But if we’re talking about the Clemson game alone, I mostly don’t care. Blue helmets, blue pants, orange jerseys, puce cleats, hot pink gloves, Socks designed by Lisa Frank, whatever–just so long as Auburn wins. As Justin pointed out last night, from a crowd perspective, it’s a win-win either way. And a certain part of me remembers how much Georgia enjoyed themselves the first time they tried pulling some uniform shenanigans (damn their dancin’ hides) and thinks doing it just this once, with ESPN and a ton of recruits around, might be a whole lot of fun if the game goes well.
But I’ve got a lot of caveats to offer:
— OK, firstly, Sir Charles and I both agree that an all-blue uniform is going to look flat-out turrible. Going monochrome in any other color than white on a football field always looks either juvenile or desperate; it’s a maneuver for high school teams or Jerry Glanville’s Atlanta Falcons. Blue helmets, blue pants, and blue jerseys is going to make Auburn look like they’re wearing odd-fitting one-piece jumpsuits.
— Even if we just toss on some blue helmets, or blue helmets and pants with white jerseys, we’re going to look an awful lot like Virginia. I don’t want to look like Virginia. I want to look like Auburn.
— Let’s say we do get a “Blue-Out” on Saturday, and let’s say things go swimmingly. We’ll still need to get two things straight: we’re not doing this again this season, and we’re not ever doing this against our rivals. If we want to jazz things up against Clemson, OK. But trying to make games against Arkansas or Georgia or–heaven forfend–Alabama an even bigger deal than they already are is just dumb, and frankly disrespectful to how much those games mean. Those weeks, everything is about football, and trying to make any part of them about uniforms is begging for embarrassment; if Georgia provides an object lesson in how well the aesthetic fun-and-games might go this Saturday, they also provide a glittering example of how badly things can go if Chizik and Co. go to the well (um, the ditch? the puddle?) too often.
— It’s one thing to be innovative. It’s another to be gimmicky, to embrace change-for-change’s-sake-alone, and the current staff has at least flirted that line in a lot of ways, from the Limo Gambit to Malzahn’s willingness to throw double-passes with the game on the line to, well, “True Blue.” I’m perfectly OK with all of that (so long as it works, and it has), and fully embrace Chizik and Co. thinking as far outside the box as they’d like. But this still strikes me as a kind of “HEY, what if we did THIS” sort of idea.
For all of those reasons, I’m hoping Auburn shows up in our usual classy damn-near-perfect togs and destroys Clemson. But hey, if we wind up in some unusual blue get-up and destroy Clemson, I’m more than OK with that, too.
But if we’re discussing uniforms again later this season? Or the week of the LSU game next year? That, that I’m afraid I’m not OK with. (Now get off my lawn.)
For further reading, I heartily recommend Kevin’s post on the subject at PPL.