SETTING: A rundown shack deep in the Cascade Mountains. A wrecked dirigible sits adjacent at the foot of a pine tree, its tattered keel covered in emerald-green lichen.
Joseph Yun: ...are you sure this is the place?
Mariotasmustache: Dave, Jared, and Sean said if we ever needed him, this is where we’d find him.
Yun: You don’t actually believe all the stories about this guy, do you? I mean, watching and taking notes on every single PAT Oregon attempted during the Chip Kelly era for an article that only got 1300 page views? Buying and refurbishing an old Dell desktop just because the Windows 95 version of MSPaint was superior? Stealing notes from an NBA scout on press row and writing in his own comments about Arselan Kazemi?
Stache: That isn’t the half of it. I heard he wrote 2500 words on Nate Costa using his dick to type, because that was “part of his process”. The point is, his methods may be unorthodox, but he always gets the job done. And Oregon’s had its first large-scale uniform reveal in years. We need him now, more than ever.
They enter the cabin. Dr. Pepper cans, Sunny Delight bottles, and Red Vines wrappers litter the floor. The walls are covered with hundreds of the same photocopied picture of former Oregon punter Josh Syria. There is no furniture, save for a single metal folding chair, currently occupied by a grizzled-looking man with a long gray beard. He is wearing a Charles Nelson jersey, and is nude from the waist down.
Tako: I always knew this day would come.
Stache: It’s good to see you sir. We’ve heard so much about you.
Tako: Those old tales they tell about me. They’re all true. Tell me, where is Matt Daddy?
Stache: Dead sir, Berkowitz finally got him.
Tako: Will Rubin?
Stache: Choked on a Twizzler.
Tako: He always was a damn fool, messing around with that junk. And my Daisy, does she still speak of me?
Yun: Often, sir.
Tako: What a woman. Did you know she can do this thing where she puts her legs-
Stache: Sir, I hate to interrupt, but time is of the essence. We need you back.
Tako: ...Can’t do it. That’s a young man’s game.
Yun: I was going to ask you about that, didn’t you graduate in like 2010? You aren’t looking so good.
Stache: He didn’t mean that.
Tako: No, no, he’s right. This life here? It changes you. Takes years off your life. You can’t imagine the things I’ve seen, the places I’ve been. I was deep cover for ATQ, full method. I had to travel down the rabbit hole and meet some of the most twisted characters in the Pac-12 Conference. I’ve been inside the mind of Butch the Cougar, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THAT’S LIKE?!? I can’t go back there, man. There’s no guarantees I could find my way out again.
Yun: But sir, it’s the Ducks.
Tako: It’s always the Ducks, sonny boy! You sit there in your three-piece suit and your patent leather shoes and try and tell me what it’s like to be in the trenches.
Joseph Yun is decidedly NOT wearing a three-piece suit and patent leather shoes.
Tako: This life took the best of me! Now I’m just an old has-been trying to salvage what’s left of this shell of an existence.
Stache: But sir! The Ducks have new uniforms!
Yun: We know you’re the man for the-oh God is he peeing?!?
Stache: We’ll just leave you alone, sir. Godspeed.
Stache and Yun pause and turn, careful to move out of the way of the puddle of urine running across the cabin floor.
Tako: ...God damnit. Get me to a computer.
Back in the glory days, when Oregon football was merely a young upstart trying to break into the upper echelon of college football, the Ducks held proper uniform reveals. There were Civil War surprises, blackout games, and offseason photoshoots that went viral back when it was legitimately difficult to go viral.
But late in 2013, things began to shift. The Ducks strayed away from the style guide and started to lose their, well, uniformity with multiple jerseys that didn’t quite sync up with each other. It began with the two-tone wings uniforms that Oregon debuted in the 2013 Alamo Bowl. Rather than adopting the uniform model in all colorways, Oregon used the white/green and black/yellow jerseys alongside the previous set. Additionally, in 2014 Oregon also debuted the albiet-beautiful Kenny Wheaton throwbacks, the apple green uniforms worn in the Rose Bowl, and the white/gray CFP title game uniforms that had neither the two-tone wings nor the wings from the previous style set. 2014 Oregon was the sartorial equivalent of using too many fonts and making your document borderline-unreadable.
Things got much murkier over the next three years. 2015 was a mess. Sometimes there was a Duck on the sleeves; sometimes there wasn’t. Sometimes the wings had two colors; sometimes there weren’t any wings at all. Some uniforms were silly; others were massively pointless and boring. 2016 was even worse, with the blue collar uniforms, the Webfoots, and the mascot cosplays. 2017 tried to tone it down, but there was still a distinct lack of cohesion due to that yellow jersey with melted crayon all over the shoulders. Throw in the Doernbecher one-offs, and Oregon still ended up with a season that felt less like “your favorite team’s favorite team” and more “please please oh please can we be your favorite team?” After Chip Kelly left town, Oregon tried so hard to keep the identity of the “cool kids”, they managed to end up with no identity whatsoever.
Oregon has found a new identity with this new era of uniforms.
Unified. Cohesive. Strong. In short, it’s one uniform in a bunch of different colors, instead of a bunch of jumbled nonsense. It’s already a win. But do they look good? Let’s take a deep dive.
Helmets: The wings are back, and they’re looking great. The MirrorDomes are Oregon icons, they were never going anywhere. The yellow/silvers are a welcome return after multiple versions of a yellow helmet with an O or a Pirate Duck on the side of them that just didn’t have that same wow factor. The green-on-green is a first for this current matte apple iteration, drawing from the shiny green helmets we’ve already seen. The real news here is the glossy black-on-matte black, a helmet that I’ve been pining after for literally a decade. This is literally a dream come true.
Jerseys: One thing that I love about Oregon’s early Wings uniforms was that despite the aura of flash, they were really quite simple in design. There was no random piping or striping or gradient or anything like that. There was jersey, number, swoosh, shoulder wings. That was basically it as far as design elements. These new jerseys get back to that bare-bones tradition. Yes, the numbers are hella big. But they aren’t that much bigger than normal, really. Compare this to this. They’re what, four inches bigger? The change becomes more stark because the team name has moved from center to the patch above the swoosh, which incidentally is my only gripe with the uniforms because that extra piece of flair feels clunky. I almost wish Nike would have just swung big and left the school branding off the jersey altogether. The world will know it’s Oregon, trust me.
Nameplates: The jerseys look to feature a bolder nameplate that contrasts with the rest of the jersey. From the promo tweets, we only get a good look at the yellow/black version, with just a taste of a gray nameplate on the white jersey. I’m interested to see what, I’m assuming, is a yellow nameplate on the green jersey, and a margarita-colored nameplate on the black jersey; seeing as those will pop much more vividly, it could be a hit or a miss. Personally, I like the look; I’ve always liked the Philadelphia Flyers’ version of this style. It’s a simple way of standing out.
Number Font: All size jokes aside, the new “Mighty Oregon” font feels very on-brand for the Ducks. Ever since the very bubbly Belotti Bold and the rounder font that preceded it, Oregon’s fonts have been moving back toward boxy. The numbers immediately reminded me of the number font from Mexico’s national soccer team, and I particularly like how the iridescence of the “mallard-head” Oregon helmet shows up in the inline of the numbers on the white jersey.
They make for a really boring-looking fan jersey, but considering how many different jerseys Oregon has put out over the last three years, potential merch-buyers have some options.
Tako is already getting excited for...
- The black helmet with the white uniform
- The MirrorDomes with the yellow uniform, a la Michigan State 2014
- The blackout night game
- Yellow-White-Yellow as a combo that might actually look good for once
- That black helmet thooooooooooooough
There, I’m back out of retirement, you happy? Now, if we can only convince Daisy to come out of retirement and do that thing with the peanut butter, the tennis racket, and the 20,000 jellybeans. Then we’ll really be having fun.