Why the Michigan Wolverines have been unwatchable since at least 2008

When the University of Michigan’s athletic department swapped out its Nike gear in exchange for a lucrative contract with Adidas, the Maize ‘n’ Blue lost more than a swoosh: they lost their Maize. In fact, they sold it for something far worse:

The shift from Nike to Adidas was also a huge change. For fans, seeing a different symbol on a jersey isn’t anything special, but for athletes it’s a big adjustment. Sizes, fit, comfort, color and durability are all crucial to being able to play your sport well. With Nike, every team had figured out what they liked and disliked, and they could make small adjustments in their gear from year to year. But Adidas specializes in soccer and football gear, so things like volleyball shoes and jerseys presented new challenges.

Nike also copyrighted the color “Maize,” so Adidas actually had to make a new version of our school color, now known as “Sun” (which the volleyball team has affectionately dubbed the “highlighter” jerseys).

Terrible. I don’t love what the Spartans have done aesthetically over the last decade– it’s the overall fluctuations in approach, more than any one decision, that has become somewhat annoying– but Michigan State hasn’t done anything to make my eyeballs burn out of my face, and that recent rosy addition has been downright pleasing.

Old news, but new to me, and now you know it too.


More logo trouble for the University of Georgia?

One of ALDLAND’s first investigative reports involved the recognizable “G” logo that appears on the University of Georgia’s football helmets, among many other places. The symbol also appears on the helmets of the Green Bay Packers and Grambling University. As it turns out, it was the Packers who first started using it in 1961, and they subsequently licensed it to Georgia and Grambling.

Today, Georgia’s athletics department unveiled a “new secondary mark that Nike has helped us create.”

Perhaps coincidentally, Nike also sponsors Butler University athletics. Both schools’ mascot is the bulldo/awg.

georgia butler bulldogs nike__________________________________________________

Who first owned the G?

Tracking the best name in sportswriting

We‘re a pretty modest bunch, but it bears noting, on very infrequent occasion, that the subjects of our content sometimes read our content. When Jalen Rose, in response to a feature on him, tweeted us his approval, I included a copy of the tweet at the bottom of the post because it was relevant feedback and fit within the arc of the piece.

By contrast, some responses bear mentioning separately from the triggering content because, while substantively outside the arc of that content, they require a response, at minimum, in the form of an acknowledgment of receipt. (Sometimes, of course, they create their own conversation altogether.) Such was the case with a tweet we received Saturday morning.  Keep reading…

Nike strikes out at bats

The PostGame reports:

Every college under contract with Nike has been let out of its commitment to use Nike baseball bats during the upcoming season.

Of the top 20 teams in home runs last season, not a single one used Nike bats.

Major schools such as Southern Cal, Miami, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky all used Nike bats and experienced major drops in offensive production. Home runs were 20 percent lower and slugging percentages 44 percent lower for those teams than for the rest of the NCAA.

The Tuscaloosa News, which led the reporting on this story, notes the Hurricanes hit an average of more than 93 homers a season between 2008 and 2010, but last season with Nike bats they slammed just 33 dingers. That’s a staggering 64.5 percent drop in power.

Alabama’s power dropped 86.6 percent over the previous three seasons.

Nike is not an equipment company. Nike is an apparel company. They’ve done a good job of convincing us that apparel is just as important to athletic performance (and even recruiting) as equipment, but there’s a reason you don’t see players wearing Louisville Slugger dri-fits. It takes a different set of institutional knowledge and skills to make things like baseball bats. Keep reading…