The University of Oregon and Nike have partnered since 1996 on athletic apparel and continue to push the envelope with football uniforms. Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike, is an Oregon graduate and major contributor. Although Oregon’s uniforms are developed by Nike, Oregon coach Chip Kelly and team captains make the decisions on what the team wears.
Oregon football team has been known in recent years for its unique uniform style, consisting of multiple color combinations of helmets, uniforms (both shirts and pants), socks, and shoes, resulting in a new uniform setup every week (not counting in-season changes to uniform designs). The frequent changes have led to criticism by alumni and football purists,though the changes have been often well-liked and praised by football recruits. New uniform schemes are coordinated by Oregon alumnus Tinker Hatfield, an executive at Nike. Nike has had the outfitting rights for the Ducks since 1995.
The Oregon uniform underwent a radical change for the 1999 season, where new, Nike-designed gear featuring a redesigned “O” emblem with solid green helmets and jerseys with lightning yellow letters were revealed. This began a period of unusually non-uniform standards for a typical college football team. Since 1999, Oregon has completely revised its uniform appearance roughly every three seasons. The frequent uniform changes and their typically flashy uniform have provoked some controversy. Fans of a more traditional approach to college football tend to ridicule each new uniform as it is released, while younger fans and players—in particular, potential Oregon athletes—react more favorably to the flashy nature of the livery.
The football team used nine different football combinations in the 2005 season, but introduced even more combinations in the 2006 season. The new uniforms in 2006 provided 384 possible different combinations of jerseys, pants, helmets, socks, and shoes. A metallic-yellow colored helmet with silver flames, which debuted in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, increased the possible combinations to 512. These uniforms were more technologically advanced than other uniforms, 28% lighter when dry, 34% lighter when wet, and greater durability with reinforcing diamond plating patterns at the joints. The Ducks wore white helmets for the first time on October 20, 2007 in Seattle, when they played the Washington Huskies. In 2008, during the Arizona vs Oregon game, they wore new, all black uniforms nicknamed “lights out”, but instead of the typical metal diamond plated shoulder pads, the new uniforms had a wing pattern.
Only once has the original “block UO” helmet emblem made a comeback, when it was worn along with a throwback jersey, against Cal in 2009. However, the neo-throwback green jersey with gold letters, without the yellow “UO” helmet or the yellow pants, did appear in the 2009 Civil War.
For the Arizona game in 2008, Oregon unveiled a new uniform design based on the “lights out” design from the previous season featuring the “wings” pattern on the shoulder pads as well as a more simplified uniform design, while retaining the number font style of “Bellotti Bold” and the colors of green, black, white, yellow, grey, gold, and steel. This was the primary uniform design from 2009 through the 2011 regular season.
Another uniform revision was introduced at the 2012 Rose Bowl and carried forward into the 2012 season, with the “wings” moving from the shoulder pads to the helmets as chrome decals, and a broader “feather” detail with iridescent fabric highlights. Five different helmets are incorporated into the uniform kit.
Nike’s contract with the Ducks, released to The (Portland) Oregonian after an open-records request, showed the athletic department receiving a cash payment from Nike of $500,000 in 2008-09. Nike was also to provide Oregon teams with $1.95 million worth of gear that year as well as much as $150,000 in extra gear as requested by athletic department officials. A new agreement extends the partnership to 2018 with increases in each category: $250,000 in cash, $550,000 in team gear and $50,000 in extra gear.
Here’s my favorites…