Although a a big story for Saturday’s LSU-Auburn game will be players who aren’t in uniform, the uniforms that the rest of LSU’s players will wear can’t avoid garnering plenty of attention, too.
LSU will roll out its Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the first and only time this season, a custom-designed ensemble that, while modern in style, still retains classic elements of the school’s traditional football gear.
Considering some special uniform combinations schools are wearing this year, there might have been concerns Nike would create something that looked like a cross between the Louisiana state flag and a Mardi Gras float.
But Greg Stringfellow, LSU’s football equipment manager, said he was pleased with Nike’s initial approach when he went to Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters earlier this year to consult with the company’s design team.
He said the changes he asked Nike to make were few.
“We’re hesitant to do things like this, because we have to make sure it fits into our traditions,” Stringfellow said.
“They came up with an idea that we thought was great. They do a lot of research, and it basically was one of the options we had in mind.”
Stringfellow said Nike’s designers tried to incorporate a classic look from LSU’s Chinese Bandits days of the late 1950s with a color scheme that evoked impressions of a white tiger. The result is a uniform that is almost completely white from head to toe.
The helmet is white with a faint tiger-stripe pattern blended in and purple and gold stripes down the middle. Purple and gold stripes are also on the shoulders, though in both cases the gold is a deeper color than the yellowish-gold LSU usually wears.
A tiger-stripe pattern is also worked into the purple numbers.
The pants are solid white with no striping, while the shoes are white and gold. Then there are the gloves, which feature a tiger eye on each palm.
LSU safety Eric Reid said it’s the gloves he likes best.
“Those are going in my display case after the game,” he said.
This will be LSU’s second Nike Pro Combat game - the first was against Arkansas in 2009.
That time, LSU’s uniforms featured an old gold-colored helmet with radically altered striping on the shoulders and down the sides of the white pants.
LSU players interviewed about the uniforms Monday said they liked them but were glad they weren’t too radical a departure from what they usually wear.
“I can’t wait to put them on,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “I like that they’re traditional, because I love our uniforms here. I’m glad they didn’t go crazy with it.”
LSU coach Les Miles also said he was glad Pro Combat uniforms aren’t a complete departure from what his team usually wears.
“I have a difficult time with a great historic uniform that has been changed such that you cannot recall the uniform or the team that it represents,” he said. “That is a step too far for me. I like to see LSU dressed like LSU is supposed to dress.”
While LSU pays for most of its traditional football gear from Nike, Stringfellow said the company is supplying all of the equipment and clothing free for this game, from helmets down to socks and even T-shirts.
LSU is one of eight schools that will wear Nike Pro Combat uniforms at some point this season, along with Army, Boise State, Georgia, Michigan State, Navy, Ohio State, Oregon and Stanford.
Auburn, which is outfitted by Under Armour, is expected to wear its traditional uniforms (blue jerseys with orange stripes and white pants with blue and orange stripes.)
Nike Pro Combat-related merchandise is available for sale at LSU’s athletic gift shop on campus or through www.LSUshop.net.