TIGER LINKS

Mizzou's new football uniforms are unveiled

2012-04-15T00:20:00Z 2012-04-16T16:38:04Z Mizzou's new football uniforms are unveiledBY STU DURANDO • sdurando@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8232 stltoday.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. • As Missouri's collection of new uniforms was unveiled for select groups last week, precautions had to be taken to keep images from being leaked.

Whether it was athletes, officials from the Southeastern Conference, the chancellor's staff or high-end boosters, everyone who was allowed a peek was asked to turn off or turn over their phones and cameras.

"We wanted to make this special for the fans so there would be no leaks," Mizzou equipment director Don Barnes said. "We did pretty good. There were almost no leaks."

The school unveiled the Nike uniforms for five teams Saturday at halftime of the Black and Gold game. Players-as-models emerged from the locker room engulfed by faux fog and surrounded by dozens of photographers, who documented the beginning of a new fashion era.

One notable difference for football was the elimination of the block 'M' on helmets, replaced by variations of the Tiger emblem.

And while a Nike official hyped the lightweight and flexible materials, football players went straight for design when offering their evaluations.

"They look nice," receiver T.J. Moe said. "I got to see them last night. The gold one is my favorite. I like the helmets. Some guys were complaining about the 'M,' but it doesn't bother me one bit."

The unveiling was 18 months in the making and started well before Missouri knew it was heading to the SEC. The football team will have 24 combinations from which to choose for its first year in a new conference.

Fans also received a first look at uniforms for the men's and women's basketball, women's soccer and volleyball teams. Eventually, every team at the school will receive newly designed Nike products.

"I think they're first class," coach Gary Pinkel said. "It gives us a lot of combinations, and from a marketing standpoint and being able to present Mizzou nationally, we feel they're very nice."

Missouri didn't go for the "wow" factor that some teams, such as Oregon and Baylor, have seized upon in recent years. But Barnes figures if Penn State rates a 1 for flamboyance and Oregon a 10, Mizzou's final product is "maybe a 6 or 7."

"We wanted to get into this but had some stipulations," he said. "We're not going flamboyant. ... Missouri people are not flashy like that. This is representing the state of Missouri. These fans are fun, likeable, hard-working. That's what they told us our brand was."

There was great anticipation for the uniforms as halftime approached. In fact, the spring game seemed secondary for many fans as half the crowd of 18,614 left after the fashion show.

Barnes said the school had samples of different uniforms for eight months, so keeping the secret was a lengthy process. He had boxes of uniforms in his garage leading up to the big day.

Now that he has succeeded in keeping the secret, Barnes will embark on a new task: determining which combinations of football uniforms will be used for the 12 games in 2012.

"My hope is to sit down before the season and lay it out," he said. "We'll have a rough idea for the season of here's what we'll wear. It will help me get it ready."

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