With the season fast approaching, we’re still waiting on an answer to the biggest question facing the program.
Maybe the answer can be found in some of the team’s promotional videos and images, or perhaps in some of Fisch’s comments since taking the job. It’s possible the school’s athletic director spilled the beans, though he didn’t provide much in the way of specifics.
Yet for all the bread crumbs that have been left, we still don’t know the true answer to the question every Arizona fan wants to know the answer to, and that’s how the team will look this season.
No, not in terms of wins and losses, where the Cats — picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South by the conference media — are expected to struggle. It would be great if they won more than they lost, but it’s really about how the team looks on the field.
That’s the biggest question, and unfortunately we’ll probably have to wait until September 4 to know if the Wildcats will, in fact, have new uniforms.
They have to be going with a different look, right?
Fisch was asked about the very idea Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“I think I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell the recruits: ‘Don’t worry about the uniforms. We’ve got to play well,’” he said. “Hopefully these uniforms will look good on them.”
It was Deion Sanders who said if you look good, you feel good and if you feel good, you play good. It was also Deion Sanders who demanded journalists refer to him as “Coach,” though, so perhaps he’s not as wise as once thought.
Regardless, Fisch is right in that whatever uniforms a team plays well in, chances are the perception of the threads will be that they are pretty nice. If Arizona made it to and won the Rose Bowl with its current set, the look would always be thought of very fondly.
If that was all Fisch said on the topic, there may be reason for pessimism. But the coach continued.
“I think everybody will be happy with the way they look,” he added. “But I do believe in tradition. I do believe in basics. I believe in being able to wear the same helmet for every game.”
Tradition? Basics? This might be happening, people!
It was just a couple of seasons ago when Arizona wore its Desert Swarm throwbacks for homecoming against Oregon State. The Cats did not play well, but seeing the 90s-era threads on the field caused fans to yearn even more for their return on a full-time basis. Not necessarily because the current uniforms are so bad, as they’re fine enough and infinitely better than what preceded them.
But the program’s best days came with an old school look that is simple, powerful and clean. The colors, the stripes and little in the way of flash.
The look is Arizona football.
It is Arizona football’s past, and it should be Arizona football’s future.
One of the best things about a uniform change, even if it’s a return to a familiar look, is the fresh start it can signify. We often see it with professional teams; locally, the Arizona Cardinals made a dramatic change in 2005, a season before they moved into a brand new stadium to begin a new era of NFL football in the Valley.
The Phoenix Suns have changed their look fairly regularly, but the addition of “The Valley” uniforms this season certainly resonated, similar to how sunburst across the chest, which was debuted in the early 90s with the arrival of Charles Barkley and move into then America West Arena, did.
The point is for many, uniforms are not just a reminder of the glory days but instead a recognizable part of the team they love. Some college teams have taken it the other way, with schools like Oregon having seemingly as many different uniform sets as the state has national forests (it’s 13 and yes, I looked that up for this specific line).
In truth, that is part of the Ducks’ brand. It works for them or, perhaps as Fisch alluded to, it’s fine because they tend to win no matter what uniform they have on.
Arizona is not Oregon. And sure, Arizona is also not USC or Notre Dame, a couple of schools who have kept their iconic, traditional looks because changing them would be sacrilegious. Those schools, and others like them, would not even consider making any kind of dramatic changes to their uniforms for fear of a revolt.
What the Arizona Wildcats are is a team, a program, looking to turn the page and head toward a brighter future. And in doing so, they should look to the past while removing the word “gradient” from their vocabulary.