While lots of people talk about the many and varied uniform changes of the Oregon Ducks football team, the Oregon basketball team has a few different uniforms as well. (Quite frankly, I could care less, one way or another, but the kids love it.)
Of course these uniforms all come about because of some creative marketing by Nike and its founder Phil Knight. I know you have never heard this before, Knight is an Oregon graduate and he LOVES the Ducks.
As a matter of fact, because of Nike and Knight, the Ducks have become the most disliked athletic program in the Pac-12, their new arena floor has been reviewed by everyone in the world from artists, to architects to basketball experts. (Oregon you have a great new arena, please just paint the center line, as I have written about before).
But, is that dislike of the Ducks going beyond just fans and influencing business decisions by other members of the Pac-12.
In a move last week that flew under the radar, the USC Trojans signed a 10 year agreement with SSM (Silver Star Merchandising, a company owned by Jerry Jones of Dallas Cowboys fame) to become the official maker and distributor of all USC apparel and brands. Nike will continue for now to be the outfitter of USC uniforms.
USC athletic director Pat Haden is as sharp as any person in the game today. It is well known in USC circles that he was receiving a tremendous amount of pressure from USC boosters and fans to move away from Nike, who many perceive has made the Ducks into a rising athletic powerhouse and why should the Trojans support Nike and in turn, it comes full circle in helping the Ducks and in lots of Trojan supporter's minds, coming back to hurt Trojan athletics in the long run.
The move has been made by USC, the big question is will other Pac-12 schools follow? We all know that none of this will ever hurt the bottom line at Nike in the least, they will be part of the sports culture forever and they have sustained the test of time over and over, but a move away from Nike does for sure send a symbolic message about supporting the "enemy" in the eyes of lots of Pac-12 fans.
As I have always said, sometimes the business of sports is much more fun to watch than even the games.
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