College football teams making fashion statements

Flip on a college football game and the first reaction could be: “What in the world are they wearing?”

Maryland’s outfits look like somebody tore up the state flag and glued the pieces on a practice uniform.

Boise State’s gear could have been borrowed from “Power Rangers.”

It’s not the first time football uniforms have stretched the limits of fashion sense. But now a trend started about a decade ago by Oregon _ a team that loves costume changes _ is sweeping the nation.

Outrageous uniforms are in. While some traditionalists find them downright offensive, kids dig ‘em. That’s all that matters.

“The uniforms are amazing,” Maryland offensive lineman Andrew Gonnella said.

What Maryland is doing under new athletic director Kevin Anderson is called rebranding. With a big boost from Under Armour CEO and Maryland alum Kevin Plank, Anderson is trying to create a new image for the Terrapins.

It’s a strategy reminiscent of what Oregon did in the mid-1990s, when it struck a deal with Nike, founded by alum Phil Knight. Oregon was looking for a way to draw more attention to its football program, which was on the upswing but still pretty anonymous.

“Oregon didn’t have the history of USC, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State or Michigan,” associate athletic director Jim Bartko said. “So we thought, ‘Let’s have our tradition be innovation, be shock value.’”

The days of Kelly green, yellow and white are long gone in Eugene, replaced by garish shades of the school colors, as well as black, steel and something called carbon.

Image is everything, baby! And the idea is to click with the 18-to-25 crowd, especially those 18-year-olds who also happen to be five-star recruits. These uniforms are definitely not for fans who grew up thinking Penn State playing in its white road uniforms against Alabama was the perfect color combination (even if the numbers on the Tide’s helmets were a bit fancy).

“Kids are into gear. They love those designs,” first-year Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. “For the demographics that we’re tying to get here, I’ve heard nothing but positive comments from that age group.”

The Terps had already unveiled a new look during the offseason, with 32 combinations of red, white, yellow and black on their pants, jerseys and helmets.

Then on Labor Day, playing Miami in the only football game on national TV that day, Maryland cranked it up a notch with the now famous _ or infamous, depending on your taste _ Pride uniforms.

Haven’t seen ‘em? Shut your eyes and imagine Maryland state flag design with a pattern of black-and-gold bars on one side of the helmet and shoulders, and a red-and-white cross pattern on the other side. Wait: There are matching shoes and gloves.

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