Letter from the Editor

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Football fashion

Am I the only one who took a look at the beloved Cyclones last week and thought they were seeing pictures of a USC game? First we boot Cy out of the nest and off the helmets in favor of the giant "I" logo (oh yes there is indeed an "I" in this team), and now we lose those familiar eye-searing electric catsup and mustard colors and steal the suits off those SoCal guys?

What's next? Will ISU's volleyball team be wearing Notre Dame's leprechan? Or will the track team show up with Clemson's tiger paw?

When did "cardinal" get confused with "maroon?" Much ado has been made of the "Cardinal Rules" motto of late in Ames; we may now have to adjust to "Swoon for Maroon Soon, Goons" or something - I'm not good at catch phrases, we have a marketing department fot that.

And what's the deal with the mighty 'Clones getting listed 8th on Sports Illustrated's list of "Ugliest College Football Uniforms?" You snotty SL twits, what do we have to do to convince you we're number one? Courderoy? Buckles on our cleats? Feather boas? C'mon, a little respect here.

"I think it's all about branding," Tonia McCarley, a member of the Iowa State athletics council explains in the newspaper. "Creating a unique look. Giving the fans something to feel good about."

That's right. College football has become a fashion show. It's not about offense or defense, it's about branding. Who knew?

And are they implying that uniforms are all that the fans in Ames will have to feel good about this season?

ISU may be the Coco Chanel of the sports fashion world - with more than a dozen football uni complete runway redesigns since the 1960s.

I went straight to the Iowa State Athletic Department and asked a carefully-formulated, insightful question regarding the latest redesign identity theft. It went something along the lines of...

"What the... ?!"

The athletic department says it is all about "changing the culture"of ISU identity. What, we have culture? Do we have to pay extra for that? They use terms like "generating equity" and "collateral materials." If I had paid more attention in class, I might have some clue what they are talking about.

But I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that this mumbo jumbo, translated into English, means that changing the colors and logo means they can sell a whole bunch of expensive new gear to fans, who can't possibly be seen in all the outdated expensive crap they bought way, way back in the fall of 2007.

ISU wanted a look that was unique, huh?

Really? So they took SC's? And if I recall right, State took a survey showing that 75% of all colleges use a letter logo on the helmer while only four in the entire country used their mascot. So State grabs a letter. Unique. my tailfeathers.

The design committee included a lecturer in the textiles fashion department, and the head football coach. Now those must have been interesting meetings. Like something out of the "Zoolander" Walk-Off scene, I presume.

I will say this for the rival Hawkeyes. Though I've never quite been able to figure out what a Hawkeye actually is, and I can only conclude that James Fenimore Cooper must have played defensive end at some point, you can recognize them anywhere. The Rorschach test-inspired "tiger hawk" logo dates to early Hayden Fry and is as integral to the Iowa identity (though not quite as entertaining in my book) as The Golden Girl.

Though my non-Cyclone compatriots are quick to point out that cardinals have neither fists nor teeth (as portrayed in the old ISU logo), the swine are simply lacking in imagination.

Find me a successful mating between a hawk and a tiger in the wild, you sticklers.

I, for one, will stick with Cy, or to be precise, he will stick with me, since I'm pretty sure I can't scape those decals off my Jeep with any degree of success, and by the time I can afford a new ride at this gig, I'm pretty sure ISU will have changed everything again, four or five more times over.

At any rate, fall is arriving, and there's nothing like a big football win for Iowa and Iowa State to get things off to a good start. Never mind that they are playing The Blind Little Sisters of the Poor State Fighting Weaklings' JV Injured Reserve; a win is a win jack, and we are on pace for a dual undefeated season. At least until Saturday.

While Iowa State's fashion designers may be suspect, the tiki gods of scheduling have blessed us with a pass on Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech, leaving only Missouri to help us discover how well our new shade of maroon blends with Type A Negative.

Forget the Orange Bowl, though. The fair thing to do would be to challenge the Trojans to a Fashion Bowl to see who gets to wear those funky yellow MC Hammer pants next season.

Okay, I'm over it.

Thank goodness it's fall, and we'll have Cylones, Hawkeyes and Panthers to talk about. The alternative is politics, and John McCain would look just awful in tight, shiny yellow stripey knickers.