As far as I can tell, it’s been 12 years since we’ve seen a significant change to Ohio State’s football aesthetic. After having issues with it for much of the 2006 season, Ohio State decided to replace their natural field grass with field turf prior to 2007. Since then, the field, Ohio State’s uniforms, and just about everything else about the way the Buckeyes look has remained the same.
It’s easy to understand why.
Ohio State has one of the most iconic uniform designs in all of college football, and there’s nothing wrong with the current look. It’s great. There’s nothing wrong with the field turf, the number of night games, or anything about the way the university brands itself. Ohio State is, after all, tremendously skilled at protecting and marketing itself.
However, the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to college football aesthetics. The game is constantly evolving, both in actual gameplay and in the way that its teams present themselves. And it’s been more than a decade since Ohio State has evolved. With a new head coach, a fresh, young staff, and what seems to be a future filled with high flying offense, it’s time for the Buckeyes to update.
Now, before you go yelling at me on the internet, allow me to elaborate on what I mean by update. No, Ohio State shouldn’t become midwest Oregon, rocking 40 different combinations with numbers larger than the jersey. In fact, I don’t think that a uniform update has to even be “new” so to speak. The best way for Ohio State to move forward is to look backwards 13 years, just before the 2006 season.
That offseason, between 2005 and 2006, is when Ohio State abandoned its longtime gray shoulder stripe look for a more sleek, minimal design, with thin black and white stripes around a large scarlet stripe. Since then, Ohio State has stuck with that look, updating only as Nike does. The uniforms have become tighter, more breathable, and sleeker than ever, but at Ohio State, the design has remained for nearly 15 years.
You know where I’m going with this. You know it’s correct, too. As the Buckeyes usher in a new coach, they should return to their roots, and break out those beautiful gray shoulder stripes, in an updated, modernized design. Of course, we know exactly what these uniforms would look like, because Ohio State teased us with them in 2014 during their College Football Playoff run.
Obviously, a few small alterations are needed. Firstly, the diamond Nike swoop could probably change to scarlet on the road uniforms, and gray on the home. Secondly, the black numbers on the shoulders of the home version should be white, to match the number on the chest and back.
These are perfect uniforms. They’re modern, and minimal, but they’re loaded with tradition, and actually include one of Ohio State’s two main colors, unlike the current set. The haters would be furious to see the local team roll into the Horseshoe rocking the coldest uniforms in the country.
Kick the field turf
Okay, this one isn’t going to happen. However, this is my column, so I can do what I want, and I want Ohio State to bring back grass. The few grass fields that remain in college football belong to some of the best stadiums in the country. There are few things in college football better than a messy grass field at Penn State.
Just like the old uniforms, we’ve seen natural grass at Ohio State before, and there’s just something special about Ohio Stadium with that natural look. As I mentioned, this isn’t going to happen, so I will add a compromise to this specific change (this is the only time I will ever compromise online): keep the turf, but get rid of the endzone color. Make it gray font, with grass backing. No red. The way God intended.
Play The Game at 3:30
This is one of my strongest held Ohio State opinions: nothing has ever looked better than the fourth quarter of Ohio State-Michigan, 2006. Starting the biggest game in football during the afternoon, and ending it under the lights is such an obvious no brainer.
I understand the tradition. I understand that Fox thinks people want to watch the best game of the day at noon. I also understand that giving such a massive game the appropriate level of importance and beauty is significantly more important than a time tradition. Ohio State-Michigan deserves a 3:30 p.m. start. While we’re at it, both teams should wear their home uniforms when they play each other.
(Do not even think about tweeting at me or emailing me over this correct opinion).
Will any of these changes actually happen?
Probably not! However, it could be so, so, much better—and with a new head coach, now is the perfect time for Ohio State to return to its uniform and field roots, and shake up the way the biggest rivalry in football is seen.