Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson has banned all of his players from using Twitter after a few players tweeted pictures of the Yellow Jackets’ new, and apparently secret, helmets. The team is scheduled to debut the new gear Monday night against Virginia Tech in their season opener.
The helmets feature a honeycomb design (because bees) and probably the old “GT” logo as well, though the pictures that were tweeted didn’t show any logo on the helmet. Quarterback Synjyn Days seemed pretty excited about them for the entire five minutes his tweet was up on the web.
Up until now, Johnson had let his players use Twitter while warning them not to broadcast any team business for the world to see. Apparently, the new gear falls under that heading because this is a pretty serious punishment for such a seemingly minor offense. I would imagine there are contractual issues with whoever made the new helmets and uniforms involving when everyone finds out what they look like. Lord knows universities and sports gear companies are all about making a splash these days.
The obsession with new uniforms is reaching a fever pitch. Programs are constantly trying to find new ways to show off their “investments” in the teams, including new uniform combinations and gear, in order to gain the attention of recruits. There’s no evidence recruits care one bit about this, of course, but I guess teams wouldn’t do it if they thought it didn’t have an effect. Most of these re-designs are also hideously ugly, which doesn’t seem to be a deal-breaker for many programs.
Oregon is the biggest perpetrator of the new-gear fad in college football. They have new uniforms and uniform combinations for virtually every game. This is, of course, a function of having Nike’s Phil Knight as a sugar daddy, and the Ducks have not been embarrassed about advertising their largesse.
While rich alumni have always paid for nice things for athletic departments, the new uniforms fad (and it IS just a fad) is another example of the ever-increasing influcence of money on college football. Programs all over the country are racing each other to have new everything, all the time. They pretend like it’s purely for recruiting, but really these programs are just rich guys trying to one-up each other. It just so happens that Oregon is the Rich Kids of Instagram of college football.
Georgia Tech opens their season Monday night on the road against Virginia Tech. The Hokies were 11-3 in 2011 but are coming off two straight losses to end the season (Clemson in the ACC title game and Michigan in the Sugar Bowl). They also return a top-ten defense and quarterback Logan Thomas, who many rank just behind Matt Barkley as the best quarterback in college football. The Hokies are eight point favorites heading into the game and are 4-1 in their last five games against Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets were…not as successful in 2011. They finished the season 2-5 in their last seven games (after starting 6-0) which included all three ranked teams on their schedule as well as a Sun Bowl loss to Utah. Full disclosure: I love their offense more than pretty much anything else in college football and always root for the Yellow Jackets unless they’re playing Indiana.