As Scott Shafer stepped up to the podium at Destiny USA, there was all the pomp and circumstance of a high school pep rally. The balloons, the band, the cheerleaders, the mascot – all there. The excitement was palpable.
That is, except afterwards on Twitter, in the articles and in the comments sections. Especially the comments section. All with same general complaint: where is the Orange? Now, don't get me wrong. I think that's a valid complaint. After all, Syracuse is the Orange. Syracuse is now trying to market itself as the "Original Orange".
But, guys, they're just football uniforms. College football uniforms, to be specific. How many SU football jerseys do you actually own? Be honest. After sitting down with players, recruits and Nike officials, SU Athletics thought this new design would best help the program be successful. That's a lot more important than the aesthetics.
Regardless of your opinion on the term "branding" or the influence of corporations on college athletics, Wednesday was a good day for Syracuse football. And if you don't think so, listen to this anecdote Scott Shafer told at the press conference about sitting down with recruits.
"I said turn your phone off, shut the door and I’m going to show you something. I thought (Nike) could help us get some better players. I can’t tell you how excited they were about the uniforms. They got so juiced up and I got a lot of commitments right there."
Now, would you rather have bad players in good uniforms or good players in bad uniforms? If Terrel Hunt is happiest while playing in a tie-dye uniform, I would be the first person to support it.
Find me one Syracuse football player who complained on Twitter about how much – or rather, how little – Orange is featured in the new jerseys.
Go on, take a minute.
Here's what I found:
SYRACUSE NEW UNIFORMS THOUGH >>>> .. ITS BOUT BE CRAZY UP AT CUSE 🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊— ✈️Alin Edouard #10✈️ (@ALLEN_EDWARD2) April 16, 2014
Ryan Nassib (@Ryan_Nassib) April 16, 2014
And if that wasn't enough, we've been talking about SU football in mid-April. With the regular season still four months away, the conversation at a basketball-dominated school centers around football uniforms and scheduling. Sportscenter and Mike Tirico even tweeted about the new unis. Heck, you're still reading about it. All for a team that hasn't won more than eight games in over a decade.
Shortly after coming to Syracuse University, I heard this catchphrase: if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes. This same principle probably applies to these jerseys. If you don't like them, wait a few years.
"College football is changing every day and now you see us being a part of that change," Floyd Little told me.
Little, who was wearing a bright Orange tie, said he will always wear Orange because it's part of the university identity.
"A lot of people won’t like it that we’re not all Orange," Little said. "But we will be Orange. We will evolve to be Orange again."