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Toss on a match and put a fire on charcoal jerseys

<p>The University of Arkansas unveiled its new football uniforms Wednesday. See Harry King&#8217;s column for more. (UA photo)</p>

The University of Arkansas unveiled its new football uniforms Wednesday. See Harry King’s column for more. (UA photo)

LITTLE ROCK — Rumors about the 2012 line for the fashionably dressed Razorback football player turned out to be false.

Black is not part of the ensemble, shooting down the speculation that the Razorbacks would do ebony head to toe for a mid-September afternoon game in Fayetteville against Alabama. What was unveiled was a charcoal uniform, described by the UA as anthracite, in addition to combinations of cardinal and white.

Waiting for the RazorVision production to crank up, the feeling was similar to the last time I followed up on a critic’s rave about a must-see TV show. Contrarian at heart, the recommended viewing would have to be better than superb to elicit a positive reaction. There had been so much negative guessing about Arkansas’ new uniforms, I was determined to embrace them. Turns out, most of the combinations didn’t move me one way or another.

Charcoal is the exception. Don’t like it; won’t like it. But, my eligibility is long gone and I get paid to watch Arkansas play so a boycott is out of the question. Besides, reading between the lines, charcoal might only be in play once a year.

The accessories are acceptable — red socks and white helmets with a hog double-stenciled in red and red helmets with a whole hog in white. No gray or charcoal or anthracite helmet was included in the 15-minute online production. On the front of each jersey, a small hog is centered between the SEC logo and the Nike swoosh. According to the release, the “shoulders are accented with jagged metallic Razorback lines, which reflect the hairline along the mascot’s back, thus creating a wider look across the pads.” Done in a typeface designed to look like the sharp edge of a razor, RAZORBACK is on the front of the home jersey while ARKANSAS is on the away and alternate versions.

The last time there was this much speculation about a design for something Arkansas, Vera Wang unveiled a strapless gown for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Wang went with the traditional white.

“We are never going to go away from our staple of cardinal and white because that is what is important to us, but at the same time we’ve provided some exciting options as well,” said athletic director Jeff Long.

The white sleeves that go with the red jersey and the red sleeves that are part of the white jersey are fine for 20-year-old athletes. For those of us who go back to Arkansas football in the 1960s, disdain for the gray may have something to do with the color conflict with remaining strands of hair.

Part of the intro of the uniforms involved technology. These are supposed to be lighter, tighter, and cooler, according to head coach John L. Smith, and will help the Razorbacks perform better. I can accept that, but the rest of his statement is disconcerting: “Recruits out there want to hear the name Nike and see the swoosh and they are looking at the combinations of uniforms a school is capable of having.”

Old school, I don’t want to learn that an 18-year-old will choose a school based on uniform combinations. If a high school athlete wants to sign on with Arkansas, the motivation should be that he wants to be a Razorback. That’s the way it works at Alabama, Texas, USC, etc., and other national powers with unchanged uniforms. That said, the UA release includes quotes from a couple of freshman in support of Smith’s statement.

Middle linebacker Tenarius Wright said in the online unveiling that the new uniforms exude “swag,” which I assume is short for swagger.

Times have changed, but, years ago, such an attitude came from winning.

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Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau.

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