WASHINGTON, September 20, 2013 — Maryland has been playing strong football this season, their last season of ACC competition before next year’s move to the Big 10. So good, in fact, they are entering the game this Saturday against rivals West Virginia undefeated.
This weekend is a big game for the University of Maryland’s Terps. They are 3-0 coming off a disappointing season where they only won a total of 4 games. Additionally, they are playing a nationally televised game that is taking place at an NFL stadium, the M & T Bank stadium in Baltimore, with a capacity for 69,348 fans.
If you know anything about Terp football, you know that they are going to want to look good when they take the field.
In 2011, the Maryland football team grabbed attention after their season opener against Miami on Monday night when they revealed their “Maryland Pride” uniforms.
Some called the uniforms “wild” others went as far as to call them “hideous,” but with 32 variations of the Maryland flag in football form being revealed one Saturday at a time by the Terps, viewers tuned in every chance they got. Not only did Maryland football become the college team America was talking about, it also brought national attention to Baltimore based manufacturer, Under Armour.
The first three games of this season, the Maryland Terps wore Under Armour uniforms as stylized as ever. With their perfectly matched and color coded attire, the pattern continuing down to the socks and shoes and with no variation from one player to the next including the hand towels and arm sleeves, the team looks like it would be as comfortable on a fashion runway as they are on the football field.
But an inconspicuous webpage on Under Armour’s website, which was released via twitter only to followers of the Testudo Times, makes one believe that the fashionable statements that have been on the field so far this year are nothing more than a temporary uniform to be tolerated until the big reveal of the true design Saturday afternoon on national television. The webpage has Maryland’s flag and the university’s logo on it with the date 9/21/13 emblazoned across the flag.
The company’s association with Maryland football started when a future 1996 Maryland graduate named Kevin Plank made the football team as a Special Teams walk on.
The future business major was an entrepreneur from the start. As an undergraduate, Plank started a business called Cupid’s Valentine which sold roses annually in February. Plank has stated that the $17,000 from the rose sales became the seed money for what would become Under Armour.
The legend still told at student orientations says that Plank claims Under Armour came out of personal necessity. As the self-reported “sweatiest man on the field,” he set out to develop a fabric which would not hold the moisture as much as cotton and would therefore not be as much weight for him to carry down the field. He recruited his fellow teammates to test out each developmental phase.
He continued to involve Maryland football in his company by sending shirts to his former teammates who had become professional players and ultimately having them star in the first series of Under Armour commercials.
As for the University of Maryland, College Park’s continued association with Under Armour, it will never be said that the school does not support their students.
College Park is one of only a handful of schools that does not accept the Common Application from students hoping to attend the University each fall. UMD says it will never change over to the “common ap” despite pressure each year, because past students developed the software that the school uses for the application process, and therefore change is not open to discussion.
The school has an office of technology commercialization whose primary function is to help find funding and obtain patents of new inventions for those affiliated with the university.
Not only does Under Armour make UMD’s football uniforms, but they make all of the teams uniforms and spirit wear. Every tee shirt, sweatpants and socks for sale at the campus bookstore carries the UA logo. The commitment to fellow students is something drilled into the student body. One unidentified student buying a shirt in Stamp, the student union, was asked how they felt about everything being made by Under Armour and their response was given with a look of total confusion, “he’s one of us.”
At an exclusive, invitation only event presented by Under Armour, at their Brand House in Baltimore, on Thursday night, the new “Maryland Pride 2.0” uniforms were revealed.
The football uniforms that will be worn when the Terps take the field Saturday afternoon still have the unusual Maryland flag as the main theme but all of the focus this year is not on the colors but on the fabric and the helmets.
The red jersey the team will wear looks almost painted on. It is a fabric that Under Armour has been using in Europe for rugby teams for the past four years but has never been used in the United States before. The “UA Armourgrid Jersey” is made to be un-grabbable and therefore make every Terp virtually unstoppable.
Adam Clement, the creative director for sports for Under Armour explained some of the process that went into making this uniform, “We have been using it for rugby for years but it is different for football. For one thing we had to figure out how to make it fit over shoulder pads and still keep the same fit.” As for how the player even gets into such a tight fitting jersey, Clement explained “it has side stretch so the player can put it on and off, but not in the front or back.”
The second aspect about the new uniform that catches the eye is the helmet. In another first for college football, each helmet has been individually hand painted. They have been air brushed to give the illusion that the flags are in motion.
Matt Mirchin, Senior Vice President of brand and sports marketing told the spectators at the event that “there are 200 helmets in all. Each one took nine months to create and another six months to design. The players will wear the helmets one time and then we will re-evaluate and make a decision. But they will probably only be worn once and then auctioned off with the proceeds going to the school.”
Each helmet is numbered 1 – 200 in the same way any piece of art would be.
University of Maryland’s athletic director, Kevin Anderson, knows that other teams are trying to copy what Maryland and Under Armour have created but says they are missing the point, “they put in a splash of color and think it’s the same. Our uniforms always have the same theme. Maryland Pride. It’s the theme and the flag that the other teams can’t compete with.”
Anderson also believes that he sees a difference in how the athletes play football when they are in the uniforms, “I know that it is important how the players look and feel in their uniforms. It shows on the field.”
The final noteworthy aspect of the uniform is the football gloves. They are the same high tech gloves that the Maryland team has been wearing, with wrist support and the ultra sticky GrabTack from finger tip to wrist but now when the hands are placed together they spell out MARYLAND.
Saturday at 3:30 p.m. these uniforms will be put to the test and the entire country will have the opportunity to see if all of the promises are real. If this new fabric proves itself to be as effective as Under Armour believes it will be, it could start a revolution in the way football uniforms are made.
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