sizeThomas Boyd, The OregonianNationally
The uniforms, designed by Nike and touted as "the most advanced uniform system ever designed, " had roughly fivetimes the activity that the local NBA season-opener had. Mind you, the Blazers opener had a typical number of big-game page views. But this uniform unveiling thing buried everything else, including the actual coverage of the Jan. 2 game between Wisconsin and Oregon.
As much as Knight gets blasted for his passionate involvement and relationship with the Ducks, that booster-team love affair ends up the most valuable and fascinating partnership in American sports.
I'm not sure what a "uniform system" is, exactly. But that's how I'm referring to my daily wardrobe from now on. AndMac makeup at this point, unless Nike stopped sewing the player's numbers on the jerseys I probably wouldn't know what was new or old with Oregon's uniforms. It all mostly looks the same to me for the Rose Bowl game with the Badgers. Except for the helmet, that is. It now has the "O" logo up top where birds can see it, and it's added wings to the side of the helmet where humans can see it.
Bigger point, Nike used the Ducks on Tuesday, big time. Also, the Ducks used Nike. The unveiling was covered locally and dior blushnationally. The accompanying message from coach Chip Kelly about Nike's ability to listen to athletes and create innovative products was a hammer. Oregon posed. The country gawked. Recruits noticed. Basically, the company's top spokesmodel had a productive day, so much so that that fashion show outdrew eyeballs of the state's only traditional major league professional sports franchise playing its first meaningful game in months.
Nike has done a marvelous job with developing product and staying innovative as times change. But what the company does more than anything else is understand the marketplace. It gets you -- in the simplest manner. And OregonMac Hello Kitty doesn't try to hide the fact that it's mostly attempted to emulate the Nike mindset when it comes to marketing and promotion.
View full sizeThomas Boyd, The OregonianNationally, Nike CEO Phil Knight is as much a part of Oregon's football identity as the players and coaches.
That Nike-Oregon relationship is criticized as incestuous. It's blasted as unhealthy. It's joked about that Knight is the most passionate owner in college football. He's called "Uncle Phil" and the campus in Eugene is labeled as some spoiled nephew. But in a college sports landscape littered with scandals, probations and lies, isn't it true that the relationship between Knight/Nike and Oregon is a functional one?
It works. Nobody gets hurt. Far as we know, no major rules have been broken because of it. Sure, there's a big-time competitive advantage gained by Oregon through Nike's golden touch. But welcome to college football, where gaining a competitive advantage is the end game.
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