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Out with the loose fit

Tight new UGA uniforms designed to resist grabbing


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 08/19/05

ATHENS ? Vince Dooley caused a stir he arrived at Georgia in 1964 and changed the Bulldogs' uniforms. At the time, the Bulldogs wore silver pants and silver helmets.

Not only did Dooley not like the look, but a new, unflattering tradition had started among Georgia's students as the Bulldogs struggled the three previous years under coach Johnny Griffith.

"Instead of saying 'Go, you silver britches,' they had started chanting, 'Go, you sons of . . . ,' " Dooley said. "I didn't think that was very appropriate."

So Dooley changed to white pants and red helmets with the forward-stretching "G," and a new tradition was born. That Georgia won 23 games and the SEC championship over the next three years helped smooth the transition.

Dooley went back to the "silver britches" in 1980 and Georgia went on the win the national championship. For the most part, the Bulldogs have been in them ever since.

Georgia will sport a new look again this fall, though much more subtle than the one Dooley initiated 41 years ago. In fact, the change might be evident only to the most discerning fans.

The Bulldogs have switched to a tight, form-fitting jersey from Nike. And while the new, sleeker look may be hot to Georgia fans, it's the cool feel ? and high performance ? that has the Georgia players excited about wearing them.

"I fell in love with them when I first saw them," safety Greg Blue said. "[The jersey is] real tight. The sleeves stop like way up on your shoulders and you have to yank it down over your pads. The look is nice, real nice, has the stiched-in numbers and everything. They're first-class."

Georgia's new jerseys are made of a state-of-the-art cordura nylon that fits snug to the body while remaining flexible, breathable and retaining less water, according to equipment manager Dave Allen. More importantly, the tight fit is supposed to make it more difficult for opposing teams to snag the Bulldogs by the jersey and drag them down.

Call them performance-enhancing jerseys.

"That's what I like about them," tailback Danny Ware said. "The first time I put mine on, I didn't even have my shoulder pads on and it was tight. But it felt good. Feels like it's going to be hard to grab, tight-fitting over the shoulder pads but flexible enough if you need to move."

Georgia is somewhat late in switching to the new style. Oregon ? often a test-market team for the locally based Nike enterprise ? has been in them for years and Texas A&M has worn them since 2002.

There are other, more subtle changes to Georgia's look. The Bulldogs have gone from a multi-colored, striped collar to a solid black one. And the white numbers, now stitched on and made of "stretch-tackle twill," are bordered in plain black trim rather than the previous shadow-box style.

But it's all about performance with these new jerseys.

"It's going to be interesting," defensive end Will Thompson said. "I personally like my jerseys to fit a little loose. But I guess it should help going against offensive linemen who like to hold. They're not going to be able to get hold of me now."

The jerseys are more expensive, costing about $100 apiece as opposed to $85 for the old ones, Allen said. But Nike actually pays Georgia under its apparel agreement.

"We get a certain number of them," Allen said. "We have to pay for extra ones for the walk-ons and whatever we get for bowl games."

Allen said coach Mark Richt has been fairly conservative about Georgia's uniforms. Richt initiated a change when he arrived at Georgia in 2001 back to the traditional look honed under Dooley and has made few adjustments since.

"Dooley and [Ray] Goff didn't mess with them much either," Allen said. "Now, [Jim] Donnan changed them around a lot."

When Donnan arrived in 1996, he changed the stripes on the helmet and, in '97, shocked Bulldog Nation when they changed from the traditional silver pants in pregame warmups to black pants for a game against Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl. Georgia won 33-6.

The next season, Donnan had the Dogs in black pants and red jerseys when Bill Goldberg led them on the field against Florida in 1998. Steve Spurrier's Gators won 38-7 and "those black pants never saw the light of day again," Allen said.

The bottom line, Richt said, is football comes down to blocking and tackling, no matter what your team is wearing. But it doesn't hurt to look good.

"You look how you play," Blue said. "You look good, you play good."

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