September 02, 2015

UNIFORMITY: Sun Devil Football Uniforms & Styles, Installment 1

Maroon, Gold, Black, and White.

UNIFORMITY is a new column from DieHard dedicated solely to the uniforms and styles of the Arizona State Sun Devils.

We all saw an overwhelming interest around the topic of “unis” when Sun Devil Athletics was re-branded by Nike in the Spring of 2011. Surprisingly, the buzz hasn’t stopped since.

 

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The Age of Adidas

The fanfare around the Sun Devils’ athletic style received a nice jolt when the three stripes of Adidas inked an agressive 7-year deal with Arizona State Athletics valued at over $33M to start the year.

The Three Stripes

The Three Stripes

If you asked the average Sun Devil fan in January about what their expectations were from Adidas, they’d probably say that it spelled disaster for the aesthetics of the Ol’ Maroon and Gold (and black… and copper… and gray). But here we are at the start of September, and there‘s quite a different tune echoing between the buttes.

ASU and Adidas released the new football uniforms on July 30th. It was the first tangible example of what we might see moving forward with the new apparel partnership. Right out of the gate, it was clear that the decision makers stayed conservative and took the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.

 

What’s New

To start, ASU’s essential PT*42 patch remains at the base of the collar. The “ASU” on the sleeves has been eliminated. The prior shoulder design, which was styled after the points of the pitchfork, has been streamlined a bit and moved out wider due to the available space where “ASU” was before.

 

The Sun Devils' Base Uniforms

Sun Devil Football’s Base Uniforms: Maroon, Gold, Black, and White

 

The change to the shoulder area has made way for a larger font displaying “Arizona State” (home/away) or “Sun Devils” (black jerseys) on the chest. On the back of the jersey, Sun Devil Bold font is now used for player names instead of the thinner, generic print used in years past.

Something not lost on fans is a prominent pitchfork on the left thigh which is noticeable, but not overstated. It’s one of those new elements that took some fans back for a moment, but the objections weren’t too loud. Looking ahead, I believe that this is a detail that will grow on people.

 

Sun Devil Bold Nameplate

Maroon jersey and Maroon helmet with Oversized Fork

Fan Reception

The reveal, overall, was a success. What was worry and concern for many has given way to wide-spread satisfaction throughout Sun Devil Nation and some excitement to boot.

We have seen detractors who refuse to accept the fact that the ever-popular Nike Swoosh has been replaced with the three stripes mark of Adidas. I’ve personally never subscribed to the pretentious ideal that the name on a tag makes a difference. To me, a $300 pair of jeans from 7 For All Mankind aren’t any better than my $60 pair of Levi’s which look just as good and are sure to last a nice, long time.

In all, the base uniforms were a pleasant surprise to a skeptical community. I admit to being a part of that skepticism given some of the disasters Adidas had released for other teams, but they delivered when it came to the standard jerseys.

 

The New Alternate

This brings us to the alternates. Three, to be exact- the first of which will be worn when the Sun Devils square off with Texas A&M in Houston on Saturday.

 “Desert Ice,” was the name that was hyped by ASU and Adidas, and the skepticism rose again amongst Sun Devil circles. “Okay, Adidas did a good job with our base uniforms, but the alternates could be atrocious.”

 Those concerns were soon squelched with the release of Desert Ice: a white base from helmet to cleat accented with clean, copper and onyx detailing. Arizona State once again does justice to the state of Arizona by starring copper, the state color, in an incredibly creative fashion. The look is unmatched by any school trying to capture the Arizona brand in a forward thinking way.

 

The Details

Desert Ice jersey front

Desert Ice jersey front

The white helmet features the popular oversized pitchfork utilized on the Maroon Monsoon uniforms and the all-white “Storm Trooper” uniforms. The key difference is that the pitchfork on Desert Ice is filled with color rather than a simple outline.

Desert Ice Helmet

Desert Ice Helmet

The onyx outline makes that solid copper fork pop off the clean white color, while the opposite side of the helmet features each player’s number. This asymmetrical look doesn’t appeal to all fans, but at the same time people really like the oversized Fork. The helmet also sees the return of the bold copper chrome face mask which was used in last season’s Desert Fuel alternate.

The jerseys feature “Arizona State” in onyx, outlined by copper. The numbers are the opposite: copper with an onyx outline. Adidas gave the jersey numbers and other copper filled portions of the uniform a subtle touch unique to Arizona State. It might not be instantly recognizable, but the pattern features the bottom spike portion of the pitchfork logo running diagonally upward and to the right.

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Oversized Fork on the left thigh

The white pants of Desert Ice also have a pitchfork on the left thigh. However, this pitchfork is copper broken up with white pinstripes, again running diagonally up and to the right. Something else worth noting is that the Desert Ice pitchfork is larger than the standard pants. It begins at the knee and runs all the way up, nearly to the player’s waist.

Finally, the Adidas cleats are a clean white with copper pitchforks on the inside of each shoe. They also have copper chrome spikes below which almost look metal. This nice detail will allow Texas A&M’s defense to see the flashes of our state while getting outrun by Baby Beast Mode, Kalen Ballage and “Gump” Hayes.

 

Fan Opinion

Naturally, when there is any deviation from the norm, there will be a reaction. Let’s start with the bad, since there’s so little of it. First of all, finding fans that disliked the Desert Ice design proved difficult, but when I did, the largest argument was that “it is not maroon and gold.” As a proud traditionalist, I can respect that beef, but I don’t feel it has legs in this case. Arizona State introduced copper on the gridiron in 2014 in successful fashion, and with a massive win over then tenth ranked Notre Dame.

As for the rest of Sun Devil Nation, the reception to Desert Ice was enthusiastic. People were talking about how great it looked. Emojis of snowflakes and flames flooded the ASU twitter stream. More than anything, the players love it, and therein lies what matters most.

 

An old-school touch #ForksUp

An old-school touch #ForksUp

 

With a huge match-up against an SEC power ahead, what could be better than a great look to match the great season the players have been working so hard towards? This uniform brings the team unity and excitement. UNIFORMITY, if you will. It will have the Devils ready to rumble in Houston.

Sun Devil Football brings us DieHard Sun Devil fans together. Our pride in the team, our colors, and the uniforms all play a role in galvanizing Sun Devil Nation. We are the best looking program in the country and our uniformity is only going to get better with each passing week.

 

Get your Gold on at DieHard-Apparel
July 22, 2015

Sun Devil Swagger from 1902 to Today: ASU Football & Adidas Ready to Unveil What's Next

 

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Sun Devil Football Style by DieHard-Apparel and Brad Hall

Below is an actual photo of the 1902 Tempe Normal Football team (now the Arizona State University Sun Devils). The students are obviously posed, making sure to show the year on the football so that 113 years later, you and I knew who they were. What isn’t staged are their official uniforms.

 

1902 Football practice at Tempe Normal School (ASU), Tempe, Arizona

1902 Football practice at Tempe Normal School (ASU), Tempe, Arizona

 

Yes, you’re looking at some turn of the 20th Century swag. The N on their jerseys stood for “Normals.” That might sound a bit uncool today, but it served as the identity of the school in Tempe which was a teachers college. “Norms” were the required standards by which students would earn a certificate to teach.
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In the early 1900’s, active sports like football and baseball were becoming more popular. Soon enough, people figured out they needed more flexible clothing in which to play.
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The Normals dressed in style. They were up to speed with the recent trend in football uniforms which had become turtle necks or pullovers with knickers, long socks, and sports shoes.
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Wisconsin vs Michigan in the 1902 College Football National Championship

Football styles when Wisconsin played Michigan in the 1902 Season

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Modern uniforms on display. Arizona State University vs USC in 2011. Photo- Peter Vander Stoep for DHD

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At the time when Teddy Roosevelt became our 26th President, the only padding on American Football uniforms could be found at the thighs and knees, though some players also wore leather shin protectors. Finally, the helmets, while they may look plastic in the photo, were leather. Plastic wouldn’t be invented for decades.
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Now let’s step ahead a century. Football uniforms have taken on a life of their own, and there is a constant need to stay relevant. Innovations in both style and performance has become a part of the game.
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Case in point– Adidas, Sun Devil Athletics’s new apparel sponsor to the tune of $33M over 8 years, describes some of their newest uniforms here:
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“Made with a cutting-edge, proprietary yarn blend that increases durability and abrasion resistance, Primeknit is the newest generation of the adidas TECHFIT football uniform system. Primeknit keeps players cool and increases range of motion, giving athletes an unrivaled level of comfort and allowing them to perform at their highest levels. The jersey’s redesigned padlock system improves tension over the shoulder pads, while the compression fit adheres to the player, making it difficult for opponents to grab, hold or tackle.”
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#PhotoLeak – The next installment of ASU’s Desert Fuel uniforms? We think so!

As Todd Graham and the Sun Devils push to become a football powerhouse and consistent top-20, dare we say top-10, football program, it’s important that we continue to do it in style. Nike catapulted the Sun Devil look into one of the most recognizable and progressive brands in the sport, and despite the justifiable concern of many fans about what’s on the horizon, we believe that adidas will come through. Perhaps it will be a work in progress.
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New uniforms are expected to be revealed within a month, likely sooner. While we can expect both enthusiasm and healthy push-back as with any change, our evolving brand should be in good hands and move forward.
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In 1902, football players were called “Leather heads,” and the uniquely American sport was just beginning. Today college football is wildly popular and is one of, if not the most lucrative sport in America.

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We’re confident that Sun Devil style will remain in tact. Ideally, we will remain the envy of many universities who will be playing a never-ending game of catch-up with the guys in Tempe. Forks Up.
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Check out some of the newest Sun Devil Lifestyle gear at DieHard-Apparel

Check out some of the newest Sun Devil Lifestyle gear at DieHard-Apparel

April 19, 2015

True Sun Devil Down to Your Core? Then You Should Know About Petey the Bulldog

A few years ago, about the time I started posting old photos of Phoenix on a Google+ page, a new logo was designed for my school, Arizona State University. It was a pitchfork, a simplification of the Sun Devil *Sparky* mascot that was adopted in 1948, and which had been created by former Disney animator Berk Anthony.

All of this got me wondering how the old-timers reacted to the changes in their school over the years. And since I'm not really interested in history, I am interested in time-traveling, I'm trying to go back and see it from the point of view of the active alumni, fans and students at the time. And believe me, it gets really weird, starting with the original name of the school, the Tempe Normal School.

 

The Normals
The Normals
Bob Smith - Bulldog Baseball 1929
Bob Smith - The Bulldogs Baseball Team, 1929

A Normal School is what a school that taught teachers was called, that is, a teaching school (which taught teaching *norms*). And since that was the original name of ASU, the teams, naturally enough, were called the Normals.

Whether the Normals had a mascot or not seems to open to debate, but that's an owl there on the steps of Old Main next to the football players (photo above) posing with the Territorial Cup in in 1899. So, if you're wondering why the football team  has N's on their jerseys, it's because they were the Normals.

When the name of the school changed to the Tempe Teacher's College, a new name for the team was needed. And really, this was the first time that the mascot and the team names were the same - the Bulldogs. So, if you're an alumus from 1922 to 1946, you are a Bulldog. Of course, if you went to the school between 1885 and 1922, since you were a Normal, you were probably pretty outraged at the change. See what I mean?

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Berk Anthony created Sparky the Sun Devil
Berk Anthony created Sparky the Sun Devil
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"It's all Arizona State University and the Sun Devils"

On November 8, 1946, Arizona State's student body voted to convert their beloved Bulldogs to the Sun Devils. There was much debate, but in the end 819 of 1,015 people voted to make the change. On November 20, 1946, the student council made it official, as reported by the Arizona Republic. We became the Arizona State Sun Devils.

I'm still doing more research on whatever possessed a successful school to start using a devil as a mascot. It's been around so long now that most people never give it a second thought, but when it was a new idea I can't help but think that there were a few people who questioned the wisdom of using an image of Satan for a school? Of course, the cheerful cartoon of *Sparky* helped people get used to the idea, I'm sure.

My feeling about all of this is that people are always proud of their school, and supporters of tradition. I don't know anyone personally who is old enough to have been a Bulldog, or a Normal, but they're as much of a part of the history of ASU as are the Sun Devils (and that's me).

My point of view is probably in line with yours. It's all Arizona State University and the Sun Devils. It just took us nearly 50 years and a couple different names to get here.
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Barbara_Benson_Pete_the_Bulldog_Arizona_State_College_ASU_1940s
Go Bulldogs! Arizona State College (now ASU) mascot, Pete the Bulldog in the 1940s

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This is actually a picture of Petey II, son of Pete the Bulldog. The original Pete passed away in 1939 and is buried under an olive tree on campus.

With Petey is pictured Barbara Benson, secretary to Ira D. Payne, Professor of Education at Arizona State College. Petey would eventually be replaced by Sparky the Sun Devil, now Arizona State University.

 

DieHard Apparel Sparky T-Shirt - True Original Since 1948. Discount now at 10% Off and 3.99 Flat Rate Shipping
The Official Sparky T-Shirt

 

December 16, 2014

Arizona State and Adidas. First Impression?

In a press conference this morning, Arizona State and Adidas announced a 7-year, $33.8 million apparel agreement to begin next July. Annually, that works out to double ASU’s arrangement with sportswear behemoth, Nike.

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November 20, 2014

The Devils’ Best Interest is a Loaded One: ASU & the Pac 12 Heading Into the Weekend

An unbelievable weekend for ASU & the Pac 12 has left me stunned like so many other Sun Devil fans. A win by Utah in overtime over Stanford started the confusion, but it continued with a near impossible win by Arizona over Washington which was capped off with ASU's heart-breaker in Corvallis. To put it simply, this weekend is H-U-G-E, because ASU needs some assistance to repeat as Champs of the South.

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November 07, 2014

Rev Me Up, Desert Fuel: My Opinion On Saturday’s Uniforms

I hate grey football jerseys.

Nothing turns a cool uniform template into a mundane mess like the color grey. It’s boring, usually not a part of the team’s color scheme, and often leaves me with unfulfilled expectations.

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