DeVaughn: Black has me seeing red

"Please see to it that we've seen the last of those black uniforms. Black? Forget it. ... There are certain gimmicks that you should avoid and consider yourself above considering. Save the black-on-black for San Diego State." What is your own take on the "Sea of Black"?

September 22, 2010

To Whom It May Concern:

Normally this space is reserved for my weekly "This Week in Stanford Football" feature. Did you know Jim Plunkett debuted as a starting quarterback 42 years ago, Sept. 20? Talk about making an entrance. The guy needed 10 completions on 13 attempts to throw for 277 yards and four touchdowns against San Jose State. He ran for another score. The poor Spartans suffered a 68-20 beating, not unlike the one-handed demolition of Wake Forest this past Saturday. However one detail from this more recent, otherwise flawless night leaves me feeling kind of like Mike Singletary in a room full of reporters.

Please see to it that we've seen the last of those black uniforms. Black? Forget it. Last I checked, red and white were the school colors. If Demon Deacon fans didn't know better, they would have thought their team was on more familiar ground, facing the South Carolina Gamecocks. Those of us who hold Cardinal football in such high regard also place high standards on the team's uniforms. I'd just as soon trash all reminders of the Buddy Teevens/Walt Harris era, not wear them on national television. I'd prefer to simply make fun of Oregon's uniforms – and not emulate the Ducks' silly wardrobe.

If you want to sell another jersey, try a vintage top. May I suggest the plain red/white trim jersey that Plunkett and his team wore? Even without a name on the back, it would be totally authentic. Cal and UCLA have each donned retro game gear in the last few years. They both looked sharp. So would Stanford. Those uniforms against Wake were throwbacks all right, but to that forgettable era that stretched from 2002 to 2006 (and parts of 2007). A Stanford football team in black is a reminder of the worst football ever seen on the Farm. The psychological association is too much to handle. I live in Sacramento; I'm only now able to visit UC Davis' campus without thinking of the horrors of five years ago.

With Buddy Teevens' arrival eight years ago came an end to six decades of tradition. Back in 1940, Clark Shaughnessy gave his first Stanford team plain white helmets and white pants to go with red jerseys. It was a major innovation. Players back then normally wore puffy moleskin britches. They looked like fly fishermen in cleats. Stanford went all the way to the Rose Bowl and spent the next 62 seasons as the sharpest-looking team on the field. Clark Shaughessy: Good coach, good luck.

Now fast forward to Teevens. Bad coach, bad look. Black was added to the uniforms once he took over, and the color stayed there until 2007. Stanford went a pathetic 11-26 at home in that span, falling into the Pac-10 cellar and college football oblivion. I'm a believer that the turnaround that has occurred since 2008 – an 11-2 home record, Toby Gerhart's Heisman run, a Sun Bowl bid, the best start to a season nine years – is no coincidence. The 2008 season saw Stanford ditch the black and return to the familiar red-and-white look.

You're a Stanford guy. The word that applies here is "superfluous." You don't see the Green Bay Packers, another Nike client, suddenly wearing black jerseys. You would never see fans at Yankee Stadium banging Thundersticks during a World Series game. Heck, you don't wear a fanny pack and a bucket hat to The Louvre. There are certain gimmicks that you should avoid and consider yourself above considering. Save the black-on-black for San Diego State.

Sincerely,

Mark DeVaughn


Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!


The Bootleg Top Stories