Football: The Cardinal’s dark side

Sept. 30, 2010, 1:32 a.m.

On Sept. 18, for the first time in school history, the No. 9 Stanford football team wore all-black uniforms in its home game against Wake Forest. Upon first glance, spectators and fans were shocked to see the Cardinal wearing a foreign color. For some, the addition of a third uniform was genius. For others, it was a miserable failure.

Football: The Cardinal's dark side
The No. 9 Stanford football team showed off their new black uniforms against Wake Forest on Sept. 18. The new look drew mixed reviews from fans and is not expected to return this season (Simon Warby/The Stanford Daily).

A handful of the team’s veteran players helped design the black uniforms, which were provided by Nike back in 2008. However, it was not until the beginning of this season that head football coach Jim Harbaugh offered the players the opportunity to wear the new gear.

“Personally, I loved them,” said sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov.

The Stanford football team traditionally wears red jerseys with white pants at home and either white jerseys with red pants or all-white uniforms when they play on the road. Historically, it is uncommon for teams to vary the colors of their uniforms. It has, however, become increasingly popular to create color combinations that are outside the norm.

With the new look came a remarkable performance as Stanford easily defeated Wake Forest, 68-24.

“Maybe it was the black uniforms,” joked redshirt sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck.

Harbaugh was reluctant to address the issue, while assuring that the team’s performance was more important than the color of its uniforms. Fans, however, could not help but express their opinions. Students were both excited and disappointed about the new look, yet they all acknowledged the new spirit in the recently indomitable team.

“They’re horrible,” said Jenni Ockelmann ’11. “All the students and spectators are out there in red and white, and for some reason our team is in black? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I think they’re intimidating,” said Andrew Molina ’11. “They represent the huge shift in the last three years of Stanford football, and I love them.”

Black is fierce and adds a level of intensity to Stanford football that the Cardinal may have been lacking. For the first time since 1986, Stanford is off to a 4-0 start, and with the way it has been playing, the black could be a positive indicator of what is to come.

“When you wear all black, you have a different attitude,” Skov said.

The players were energized as they ran out of the tunnel in a mass of black and lit up the stadium with their newfound spirit. Though cheering for the team in black was unusual, the Red Zone did not miss a step. Stanford football is making a name for itself, and the stunning all-black uniforms helped elevate its “we mean business” identity.

“I loved the black uniforms,” said sophomore running back Tyler Gaffney. “I know some alumni may not have liked them, but putting up 68 points, we can’t complain.”

Love it or hate it, the new look is not here to stay. The Bootleg reported that the all-black uniforms will likely not be seen again this year.

“Probably not this season,” Harbaugh said. “We just prefer to wear our standard uniforms in the conference games, but I think we’ll wear them again at some point.”

Harbaugh has been known to refer to himself as a traditionalist, so at least for now, the team will be sporting its conventional uniforms. Expect the traditional cardinal and white at the team’s next home game, Oct. 9 against rival USC.

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