Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 10/31/11
MADISON, Wis. Oregon's football program maintains enough uniform combinations to last for nearly a decade's worth of games without ever worrying about duplication. Maryland's flashy color mixtures featuring elements of the state flag don't improve the product on the field, but they create a significant stir for a team that doesn't otherwise generate much national attention. In the college football landscape, the ever-changing uniform craze is a fashion trend that has swept across the sport at schools from coast to coast, receiving varying levels of admiration from potential recruits along the way. In Oregon's case, the colorful array of green, black, yellow, white, carbon and steel account for 80 different uniform combinations. Oklahoma State and Arizona State have the option of 48 different styles, while Maryland has 32 choices and Wyoming 27. And then, there is a traditional football program such as Wisconsin, which stands on the opposite end of the all-eyes-on-us spectrum. The uniform combinations are simple: There are red tops with white pants. There are white tops with white pants. And, when the moment is right, the Badgers might even throw in red pants just to add some zest to the mix. "I think that's just how it's supposed to be," Badgers linebacker Mike Taylor says. "Wisconsin is traditional. We don't really like to change it up that much. We just do what we do. We worry about ourselves. Some teams like to spice things up a little bit with the way they look. Some teams look good and all that. Here, we don't let little distractions get in the way of what we do." The Badgers have consistently produced nationally ranked football teams while wearing the same basic uniforms every season with the same scripted "W" on the side of their helmets. This season, they are 6-2 and ranked No. 20 in the latest BCS standings. The team as a whole has played in the same stadium since 1917. The only significant upgrades to Camp Randall have been adding luxury boxes and a new FieldTurf in 2003 although it isn't an attention-grabbing blue like thefake grassBoise State's team currently uses. Wisconsin safety Aaron Henry says the Badgers' program is built specifically around the idea of shaping good football players rather than generating unnecessary hype. Recently, Badgers players were given new gloves a swirl of red, white and black in which the back was designed into the shape of a "W" and even that seemed out of character. "It's like we had to beg for those," Henry says. "That's just Wisconsin. It's no knock on the program or anything. We've got guys here who love the program and a head coach (Bret Bielema) here who's been doing a phenomenal job with us. Guys come here because it's real. Nothing is fabricated about this program." During Wisconsin's most recent game against Ohio State, the Badgers saw first-hand what a freshly styled uniform can look like on an opponent. The Buckeyes wore throwback replicas, albeit altered considerably, of the jerseys donned by the 1961 team under coach Woody Hayes. A similar marketing ploy is not something Wisconsin defensive line coach Charlie Partridge anticipates seeing at his school in the near future. "I couldn't even imagine us going to alternate uniforms," Partridge says. "I can't. I think our fans would be disappointed. The fans go crazy when we put on red pants with our white jerseys. To go wholesale with something different, I don't think it fits here. Here, we try to honor tradition and honor what coach (Barry) Alvarez built. I'd be hard pressed to see that change here." Once under Alvarez, who coached at Wisconsin from 1990-2005, his Badgers attempted to spice up their uniforms -- duringa Sept. 2, 1995 nationally televised game against Colorado. Wisconsin wore red and white tops with white sleeves, which included the "W" stitched onto both shoulder pad areas. Colorado went on to pummel Wisconsin, 43-7, and the jerseys were never seen again. The last time Wisconsin wore red pants was during the Rose Bowl in January. The Badgers went on to lose, 21-19, against TCU once again proving that, perhaps, change is not necessarily always a good thing. "I'm sure some of the other guys in the locker room would probably say it would be nice to have a throwback uniform here or there," Henry says, "but at the end of the day, that doesn't decide if you win games or not."
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