Sunday, July 5, 2009


When will KU go retro?

Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing runs to the sideline in this Oct. 11, 2008, file photo against Colorado at Memorial Stadium. Reesing, who will return as a senior this fall, is expected to lead a potent KU offense.

Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing runs to the sideline in this Oct. 11, 2008, file photo against Colorado at Memorial Stadium. Reesing, who will return as a senior this fall, is expected to lead a potent KU offense.


Pro baseball teams do it. So do pro football teams. Why not college football teams, too?

Nebraska’s football players will don retro uniforms for their Sept. 26 game against Louisiana-Lafayette as NU celebrates its NCAA-record 300th consecutive sellout.

On that night, the Cornhuskers will wear replica uniforms from 1962, the year the streak began. The ‘62 jerseys have distinctive curly-q numerals and the white helmets have matching jersey numerals in stark black instead of the iconic red ‘N’ the Huskers have used for decades.

The replicas won’t, however, be exact copies because there will be an adidas logo on the jerseys. Adidas is supplying the total package — helmets, jerseys and pants.

Hmmm … adidas. That’s the same company that outfits Kansas University athletes. And that made me wonder how the Jayhawks would look if they staged a Retro Game and were decked out in 1962 togs.

I dug up a picture of Gale Sayers in a 1962 KU uniform and, like the Huskers, the Jayhawks’ helmets featured the player’s number instead of a logo. I’ve seen similar Missouri helmets of that vintage so the early ‘60s were clearly pre-logo days.

Over the years, Kansas football jerseys have just about covered the entire spectrum of blues, from the “mineshaft” blues of the mid-1980s to the powder blues of the early ‘60s and late 1970s so matching the shade of blue to the year shouldn’t be a problem.

Nevertheless, it might make more sense for Kansas to do its retro shtick based on a helmet that features the familiar Jayhawk logo.

Countless KU fans have stumped for the return of the mythical bird to the headgear as a replacement for that insipid Trajan font “KU.” So much so, in fact, that they might even want to buy one.

The retail factor is also a facet of Nebraska’s marketing plan. Every one of those old NU uniforms — adidas is making No. 1 through No. 99 — will be sold. The price? Limitless.

Those uniforms will be put up for auction with a minimum bid of — are you ready? — $500. Assuming each uniform goes for just that minimum, that’s a windfall of nearly $50,000 for NU’s athletic department.

Wait, there’s more. A commemorative ticket stub from the game that started the streak will be sold for $5 each. And Nebraska officials no doubt will sell more game programs because of the historical impact.

Imitation in the pursuit of revenue is not considered a vice in college athletics so it seems likely KU will sooner or later go the retro route, too. The only questions are when and why.

Obviously, it’s too late to stage a retro promotion this fall, so the first available season would be 2010. But what to celebrate? How about the 35th anniversary of the 1975 Kansas team that handed national champion Oklahoma its lone defeat.

That ‘75 squad, led by Wishbone quarterback Nolan Cromwell and halfback Laverne Smith, also wore what I consider a classic design of solid blue uniforms and helmets with a Jayhawk logo on each side of the headgear.

Could KU auction off 99 of those ‘75 uniforms at a minimum of $500 apiece? Hard to say, but I’ll bet Cromwell’s No. 9 and Smith’s No. 30 would fetch a pretty penny.


Robert Brock 10 years, 11 months ago

Try the 1968 Hawks' look: that was a great ballclub!

okjhok 10 years, 11 months ago

I think it's time for a new version (less cartoonish) of the Jayhawk.

KGphoto 10 years, 11 months ago

Why is the trajan font so stupid again? If you want a stupid font, go get a nice big papyrus KU up there on the shell. No sir. Trajan was on the helmet for the greatest football season in KU history, and on the jersey for a national championship in basketball. In 35 years I'm guessing they'll be retroing in honor of that!

The Jayhawk logo on the crown? Don't do it. I don't know who these "countless" people are Woodling, that want the hawk on the helmet. But I just can't see it. Less is more. My favorite uniform ever is Penn St. And I can find more people that agree with that, than you can find people who want a Jayhawk on the noggin. So I'd have to agree with Brock. The 1968 Hawks donned an appealing blue-collar look. And had a nice season to commemorate.

While were at it. Let's go the extra mile and screw on some two bar face masks to complete the look. With Opurum sporting a Riggo mask and rumbling through the line, I would swear I'd gone back in time.

Also please don't do powder blues just because Chris Berman has been force feeding us this San Diego Chargers BS for almost a decade. Powder blue is done. And moreover, powder blue is Carolina blue. KU is crimson and blue. It's easy and it's ours.

gardenjay 10 years, 11 months ago

Nice article about clothing, I always enjoy these articles on the fringe of the sport. Clothing is necessary. But what would be more interesting to me in this vein is an article about the evolution of football helmet design to reduce injury, or something more functional. And as I mentioned in a previous post, it would great to get to know the jayhawk training table meals, how closely the caloric intake is monitored and how hydration is monitored during these brutal 'optional workout' summer days. Rock Chalk!

waywardJay 10 years, 11 months ago

I think there is a Simple answer here, woodling.

We plain Stink historically. We have a history, we have past success, but for too long our jersey's have not mattered.....

FInal SCore 66-3 other guys.....

You think we wanna be reminded of any decade specifically ???? How about the '80s ?

Going retro works when you have history ( like nebraska has ) of consistantly year in and year out beating the bejesus out of US..... whether it's proper or not.... losing teams do not sell alotof jerseys.... and retro would be hard for us to work....

Jayhawk on the helmet.... Thanks but no..... The other commentor had it right.... look at our record post trajan.... maybe that has more to do with mangino, reesing etc. but ill take the look we got now in FOOTBALL.....

However, we should go retro basketeball style at least once next year...... Adidas versions of our 1988 championship team jersey's would be nice...... also, we can go back to ANY decade at any point.... and specifically pick any other year... because let's face it .... we have been dominant.....

Tim Orel 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm one who loves the Jayhawk on the helmet, and I'd take that any day over the bland KU we have there now. I do agree, however, that we should have something historical to celebrate, and the best KU football accomplishment I can think of was all of two years ago, so there's nothing retro needing acknowledgement. Maybe if we wanted to go retro to the first Border War game sometime, but other than that...

hailtoku 10 years, 11 months ago

I think we should go retro and bring back the 2007 uniforms

Steve Brown 10 years, 11 months ago

Uniforms should aid performance. Light colors in the hot days and dark colors in the cooler temp reflect or absorb the sun's natural temperature moderating effect. Gale Sayers retro day would work for me, just have all the jerseys say SAYERS on the back above the number to honor our all time best player. Agree, I'm old school yet no need for the cartoon bird on the helmet...solid blue with crimson wide stripe from front to back.

rcjh22 10 years, 11 months ago

Let's focus on winning the north than on some ugly old jerseys.

Frankenhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

i would like the jayhawk on the helmet, but i wouldnt say im clamoring for it. if we did put a jayhawk on the helmet it should be just the head, like those license plates where the head barely fits cuz they made it so big. and yea, while we're on the subject, we should go back to the WWll jayhawk that actually looks like it wants to whoop your but and not shake your hand.

5DecadeHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

How about the LJW goes Retro first?

Maybe they could actually have writers that get up off their butts and go find stories about sports. Now that would be RETRO to the good old days of newspaper journalism. Getting stories instead of waiting for someone to post them on the internet and then making phone calls (maybe) to see if they are true.

Naaah. Never mind. That would require effort. Woodling might actually have to think or something. He needs to stick to something he's good at. He'd rather wax wistfully in hopes that KU will try to copy his beloved MU teams.

waywardJay 10 years, 11 months ago

or at least NOT hire a reporter from the other side of the border war.....e rrr showdown.... im going retro on this one.... Border WAR

suttonku 10 years, 11 months ago

I like the idea of a retro game...just to throw this in there Nebraska will go retro on their homecoming this year which is also the game that they will reach 300 sellouts in a row which is pretty amazing I think

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 11 months ago


Are you suggesting that a new jayhawk image be adopted in general?

A "less cartoonish" version? Should they go out and photograph a "real" jayhawk and use that image?

Kman_blue 10 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Frankenhawk. The 1941 Jayhawk looks like it means business and is out to whoop up on someone. I vote for us going Retro back to that version of the Jayhawk.

If we go for a Retro jersey, we should go Retro back to our 1908 undefeated jerseys. We beat Oklahoma at home, beat Nebraska at Nebraska, beat Iowa at Iowa, as well as beating both KSU and Mizzery(in KC). Undefeated season.

Then again, I don't know how well bringing back leather helmets would work out for the players. lol

wyansas 10 years, 11 months ago

i miss the old carnival font on the 2007 and earlier jerseys. the trajan font is lame.

Eurekahwk 10 years, 11 months ago

Keep the unis simple. They are fine just they way they are. Not Navy blue, not Terry Allen era blue, If we are to insist on keeping the reds, then they need a matching red helmet. Because it really looks High Schoolish. In fact, my highschool used to have blue jersy with red helmet.

fordbray 10 years, 11 months ago

A new Jayhawk? What like a power-Hawk? Gag me.

Rock_Chalk_NYC 10 years, 11 months ago

See left... this is the bad arse Jayhawk we need for football... This jay is ready to rumble...

gardenjay 10 years, 11 months ago

Kman_blue, you make an excellent point concerning the evolution of football headgear. In any article referencing 'going retro' there should be a lengthy segment devoted to the pace at which football gear has changed to reduce injury. This is part and parcel to why the appearance of football players has changed since our inimitable 1908 squad. Anyway, the superficial stuff about uniform jerseys probably does not improve our team, any more than making sure the astro turf has no astro crab grass. If the Oklahoma Sooners decided to go in Mickey Mouse costumes, they would likely still have a great season.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 11 months ago

Actually, you can take the Seattle Seahawk logo or the Philadelphia Eagle Logo and with relatively slight modifications and overall color changes, create a fairly predatory Jayhawk logo.

However, what would be much scarier and way more effective would be to put a photo of Lew Perkins with a huge cigar in his mouth on each side of the helmet. That would turn our opponents into stone!!!!!

speedy 10 years, 11 months ago

remember that Neb. only has one school to support. thats why the sellouts. kansas has two plus 3 div. 1 BB schools. lets kick their butts and the heck with their colors.

Eric Schneider 10 years, 11 months ago

waywardJay is absolutely right. We don't have the football history that Nebraska does. So why glorify a past that we would like to forget. We had a few good seasons sprinkled in with a whole bunch of bad. The Jersey sales thing doesn't wash either. Because of their exclusive agreement with Adidas, instead of Nike like Nebraska and most other D1 schools, the KUAD severely limited their licensed merchandise opportunities. Don't believe me. Go ask any retailer that sells licensed NCAA apparel outside of Lawrence.

Mike Barnhart 10 years, 11 months ago

Not a NEW Jayhawk OLD Jayhawk. The football team (ONLY the football team) needs a bad a** mascot. The fierce 1941 scowling Jayhawk should represent football. He's exactly like the current bird but he's NOT so dang happy!


JHWKNMIZRY 10 years, 11 months ago

I like the jayhawk on the helmet. I don't think it will help OR jinx the team . How they play will determine the outcome a hell of a lot more(and of course if I throw salt over my left shoulder three times and wear my magic socks-----------unwashed).

sayers48 10 years, 11 months ago

jayhawkfan96 -

I believe Nebraska has a licensing agreement with Adidas, as well, rather than Nike.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 11 months ago

There can only be ONE Jayhawk!

If it's too weak for football, it's probably too weak for other sports.

It's not the mascot or logo image anyway. It's how much respect and intimidation the particular team has from it's opponents. Grow up!

Is there anybody out there who REALLY is frightened of another team's mascot and/or team logo? If you are, it's way past your bedtime!

I doubt if the evolution of the Jayhawk came about through a judgement of it's fear factor.

farnamjayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Forget the retro unis.....I just want a victory over Nebraska this year and the Big XII North title.

hs_reader 10 years, 11 months ago

The Adidas deal was better for the teams. It covers all KU sports, not just men's and women's bbal and football like Nike did. Personally, I like the fair treatment.

"I doubt if the evolution of the Jayhawk came about through a judgement of it's fear factor." I agree with you, although I believe the old Jayhawk in question was from the WW2 era (1941), so fear factor may have had some influence.

And, while I have no opinions on KU being on the football helmet, I'm happy with anything that isn't the school's stupid new one, with the odd K. Now that is blah.

Mike Barnhart 10 years, 11 months ago

RECRUITS CARE! Name one other football powerhouse that has a smiling mascot? Gold, black, navy, red ...tough!

'Nuff said!

waywardJay 10 years, 11 months ago

Ok ... im just throwing this out there.....

While we are at it... why not switch to the colors yellow and black, and see if we can get todd to talk about Colt McCoy"s ASSets as a leader......


Ben Kliewer 10 years, 11 months ago

We should go retro with the Navy Blue uniforms from 2003

optichawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Did Apple change their logo to the letters APPLE when they introduced the iPod? No, and there are plenty of other examples I can waste time posting. Its called EQUITY and some junior level marketers in the KU athletics offices don't have a clue what kind of power comes from having established, long standing equity. Yes, this equity was being developed during the good years and bad but its the one icon that keeps KU separate and distinct from everyone else. How many friggin Wildcats and Tigers are out there? Who cares...and that's my point. Bottom line, give me the Jayhawk on anything from Football to Basketball to Bowling to..heck tatoo it on the swimmers!

WisconsinJayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Maybe a couple of photos would help in an article about the appearance/look of past uniforms. Just sayin'.

hailtoku 10 years, 11 months ago

Optichawk- You're talking about changing the brand image of the most recognized company in the world.

We're talking about having an alternative uniform for one football game. Big difference, and not as dramatic as you're making it out to be.

Personally, I think the KU uniforms are classic as is. I would like to change the logo on the helmet to a solid red "K" or go back to the interlocking "KU".

I think when a moment like the anniversary of the Orange Bowl team from the 60's comes up, we should do a memorial uniform. But we don't have the history to bust out a retro uniform out of nowhere.

optichawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Hail...I think you misunderstood or I didn't provide enough support for putting the Jayhawk on the helmet even for just a game. But, you made my point for me anyway. 30 years ago that Apple meant nothing and look at its equity now and what it stands for. The Jayhawk has been like that for even longer, over 50 years and thus should be used more prominently like we do on the 26ft version at AFH.

All I'm saying is we have one of the strongest symbols in college athletics but choose to fragment the equity by using the Jayhawk and the KU in Trajan font. Now when we have an anniversary of the only Orange Bowl win to date, and want to recognize the event, we will have to break out the red uni's which I'm not real crazy about since they have no relevance until then, so give us at least the Jayhawk on the helmet even for one game so we can enjoy the equity built from it and what the heck, profit from it too.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 11 months ago


I prefer to think of our Jayhawk as laughing,not smiling! He's laughing in the face of his competition.

At least our bird doesn't have that "Dick Cheney smurk" like the Louisville Cardinal.

Maybe we could put an eye patch on Big Jay for football games, ala Oakland Raiders.

stairway76 10 years, 11 months ago

I want to know something...When the hell did this place become "Kansas University"? I know we are KU, but I thought we were also THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS! Tired of writers on this site refering to us as "Kansas University"!!!

jayhawkboogeyman 10 years, 11 months ago

Never. The future is looking bright and if any football program doesn't need to waste time and money on some dwelling-in-the-past-gimmicky crap it is certainly us. Keep the unis the way they are, focus on fixing up the stadium, and keep on bringing home bowl trophies.

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