“Look good, play good” should not be the motto for BYU football. The Cougars sport three alternate looks this season, and so far none of them have proved successful.
This year against Utah State, BYU honored former Cougar Jim McMahon by not only retiring his number but also by tipping a hat to the royal blue jerseys McMahon wore while shattering records during his playing days. However, the only things that were shattered during this game were playoff dreams, Heisman hopes and a quarterback’s season.
The 2014 season’s royal revival followed in the footsteps of last year’s game against the University of Utah, when BYU debuted royal bottoms with royal tops. Both years BYU’s completion percentage was less than 45, and each final drive ended with a turnover.
Sadly, the Cougars are now 0-2 when it comes to wearing royal tops and royal bottoms against opponents.
BYU’s bad luck with alternate uniforms started in 2012 when the team, which usually wears navy blue at home, donned non-traditional black uniforms against Oregon State. Plagued by Riley Nelson’s three interceptions and a less-than-impressive completion percentage, the Cougars yelled, “TIMBER!” as they fell to the Beavers 42-24.
Mick Hill, director of equipment operations for the team, puts endless work hours into making sure all of BYU’s sports teams look good while competing, as well as preparing their uniforms so they are ready for their next use. The royal revival was no exception. Not only was the day of the game spent preparing for the royal out, but as soon as the final whistle blew calling the Utah State game, Hill and the Equipment Operations staff were busy preparing for their next matchup against the University of Central Florida.
“The game got done close to midnight, and we came back (to the Student Athletic Building),” Hill said. “We always pack out of the stadium and come here to unload. We had to change all the helmets back for practice Monday morning.”
This means not only taking each royal logo off the side of every helmet but also removing every royal face mask and royal stripe. Hill’s crew also had to put the normal, navy-colored face masks back on every helmet.
“So we stayed and did it that night, which was actually Saturday morning, but we finished at about five o’clock in the morning,” Hill said. “The expectation is you have to have that helmet back to the way they would wear it for a typical day’s practice. … We just stayed till everything was done. You just gotta do what you gotta do.”
Hill and his staff of 12 used the utmost care to make sure BYU athletes look good while also having functional uniforms. Not only is every football uniform washed and spot treated, but every helmet is stripped of decals and buffed each night before a game.
Whatever the outcome may be, alternate uniforms do have a purpose. Examples are when BYU wore royal jerseys and white pants against the University of Utah in 2009 to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the 1984 National Championship. The Cougars wore the same uniforms in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon State, and both contests ended with a win.
“For me, alternate uniforms are a chance to change our apparel and be unified with the team colors,” said David Eberhard, BYU sports marketing coordinator.
The team will wear black uniforms in the upcoming game against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Will the alternate uniforms earn the nickname “bad luck blacks,” or will the Cougars rise and roar?