Since 2011, Oklahoma State football has fully embraced the need for weekly uniform changes.
Now the Cowboys have taken the uniform buzz to a whole new level.
Last Wednesday, OSU revealed an entirely new direction for college football’s apparel trend, with bits of Oklahoma State heritage woven throughout the Nike gear, stirring both pride in the program and excitement over new designs.
It was three iconic Cowboys, hidden under tinted helmet visors, who caused a fashion stir on the Boone Pickens Stadium catwalk, first revealing the uniforms to players in the team auditorium, then revealing their identities: Dan Bailey, Dez Bryant and Brandon Weeden.
“I always like to keep ‘em guessing,” said head equipment manager Matt Davis.
In an interview Thursday with The Franchise Tulsa (fm107.9/am1270), Davis said he had planned the event (you can see photos and watch an OSU-produced video at www.okstate.com/evolve) for about a year, but getting three of the program’s most decorated stars who are currently in the NFL to come back and model the new gear was the idea of Gavin Lang, OSU’s associate athletic director for communications.
“And those guys, man, they loved it,” Davis said. “When they got here, they hugged it out. It’s just a great deal to be able to get those guys back, such great ambassadors for Oklahoma State football.”
The uniform combinations themselves — all white, all orange and all black (also gray pants) — are cool enough. But Davis’ attention to detail in honoring the legacy of OSU football makes it all pop.
Davis, who describes himself as “a lifelong Oklahoma State guy,” said Nike apparel and graphics designer Kristy Lauzonis worked closely with him and assistant Justin Williams (who have 35 years with OSU football between them) to achieve the perfect look.
“Oklahoma State Football is a very progressive partner,” Lauzonis said in a press release. “We’re really excited to be partnered with them on this project. They’re always looking to push the envelope forward, and they’re really a leader when it comes to innovation on the field.”
Nike usually creates its own designs and then tells its apparel partners what they’ll be wearing. This time, it was truly a partnership.
“They basically said, ‘We want to give you a blank canvas. You guys come up with what you think,’ Davis said, “and I appreciated that because nobody knows Oklahoma State football better than us. We live it, we breathe it every day. We grew up in it and we’re invested in it because we’re Pokes for life.”
The trim on the jerseys includes designs that incorporate OSU’s retired numbers (21, 34, 43 and 55 — Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas, Terry Miller and Bob Fenimore), the Paddle People, horse mascot Bullet and the Spirit Rider, Boone Pickens Stadium, the original Bedlam Bell and, of course, Pistol Pete.
Those homages are portrayed on sleeve trim and on a collar that looks like Pete’s neckerchief, and Pete’s marshal’s badge is depicted on the chest just below the neckline.
“When we started,” Davis said, “we said, ‘… Let’s start from scratch here. What is more unique and iconic than Pistol Pete out there as far as mascots go?’ In my opinion, nobody because it’s a real guy. It’s based on a real person, and what’s any more unique and iconic than that?”
On the back of the collar is play-by-play man Dave Hunziker’s iconic touchdown call of “Pistols Firing,” and Davis revealed a program secret that’s written on the inside of the collar that no one can see until they turn the jersey inside out.
“We’ve got a team saying that we say every game in pregame before we take the field,” Davis said. “It’s a song, ‘Oh, these boys ain’t ready.’ So we actually put that inside the neckline so only our players can see it, just for them.
“We wanted to encapsulate everything, the traditions we have here that nobody can replicate. You can come up with a uniform, but we made it not only flashy and classy, but we made it about us. That’s what I think is the greatest about it.”