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Terps Go Gold Again

Thank heavens they beat Holy Cross. (AP Photo)

On Aug. 25, 2004, the Maryland Terrapins wore their black road alternate jerseys during a preseason scrimmage against Angelico Biella. After being tied with the Italian club inside the final 30 seconds, Maryland lost that game by two points, and that was pretty much it for the road alternate jerseys.

"With Gary," said director of basketball operations Troy Wainwright with a laugh, "you only get one chance."

(UPDATE: Several readers point out that I'm an idiot, and that the black alternates were worn in that 2006 ACC Tournament blow-out loss to Boston College. My bad. Feel free to disregard the rest of this, I guess.)

With the blacks thus benched for all some time, uniform sponsor Nike inquired before this season whether the Terps might instead be interested in gold alternates.

(Fun Bloggy Fact #1: Maryland, according to Athletic Director Debbie Yow, is the only Division I school in the country with four, count 'em, four official school colors. Something to do with a pair of football coaches toggling the team's colors back and forth from black and gold to red and white in the 1940s.)

So the program agreed to get the golds, and the players loved 'em, and all agreed that they would be broken out for a home non-conference game, the better to avoid the sad one-game fate of the alternate blacks. But going into the Holy Cross game in early January--the last home non-conference game of the year--Maryland still hadn't trotted out the golds. Forward James Gist, in a leadership move befitting his stature as team captain, thus approached Williams and requested the golds be deployed against the Crusaders; the result was a commanding 73-48 win.

And with that, the golds lived to fight another day, that day being last night, when 4,000 gold t-shirts were handed out to students in honor of the occasion.

Immediately it became clear that there would be some spectral issues on this night. Brian Blicher, one of the first fans in the arena, was wearing his modified red "Mr. Incredible" costume; a gold t-shirt would not fit over the bulging chest, so he would remain red. The five "Fear the Fro" guys, in their Boom Osby-inspired black wigs and shirts, would also be gold-free. The vast non-student section was largely red--one longtime fan lamented that she left her new yellow sweater at home--while the CSC Event Staff employees were, confusingly, clad in gold jackets.

(Fun Bloggy Fact #2: While Terps fans were hopelessly non-costumed when compared to the always-bizarre student section at a Georgetown game, there was one brave soul 30 rows up dressed like a cow. Take what you can get.)

Early reaction to both the t-shirts and the jerseys was largely negative.

"Black is way better than gold," said freshman Evan Weidner.

"I'd rather see everyone wear red; that's the color we've grown accustomed to," Blicher said.

"We can't even get everyone to wear red; now we're just going to have a jumble of everything," said grad student Doug Short.

"We've got [bleeping] red chairs, we should [bleeping] wear red," said junior Chris Rick.

(Fun Bloggy Fact No. 3: When department staff members were preparing the "600 Wins" pre-game video tribute to Gary Williams, they quickly decided it should be set to Bob Seger's "Like a Rock." Unfortunately, when they told the younger generation, the younger generation replied, "What, the Chevy song?" But the classic rock-loving staff stuck to its guns, and so fans were treated to a moving montage of Gary's finest moments, while everyone thought about pickup trucks.

"With something like this, you don't worry about young or old," said Gabe Unterman, director of multimedia productions. "It's the perfect song, so you just go with what fits.")

I, of course, completely disagreed with the negativity toward the color change. The gold, as Project Runway's Christian might say, was fierce. It was different. It was obnoxiously, aggressively bold. It showed something of the stop-worrying-and-just-play attitude that helped these Terps win six of eight since the gold first debuted. To find backing, I met up with the dance team as they prepped for the game.

"I think they're refreshing," said junior Vanessa Walters. "This particular gold is just very striking."

"It is, it's like marigold," agreed senior Shannon Auxier.

"It makes you notice them," thirded junior Sarah Coale.

"New uniform, new team," confirmed Jackie Dicker as she applied her fake eyelashes. "They had to change their image, and change their game. It shows they're willing to step out of their usual routine and take a stance."

In fairness, most of the crowd likely agreed with their athletic director, who declined to address the color choice, saying "I only have feelings about wins and losses, they can wear whatever they want." Which left the final word to 12-year old Max Godwin.

"I think it's dumb," he said, "because it makes everyone look like cheese."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 9, 2008; 9:26 PM ET
Categories:  Terps  
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I was at that Holy Cross game and was pretty disgusted at first by the uniforms and when the Crusaders scored first I was convinced it was the curse of the gold. Now I like them but still prefer black. The uni has changed in other ways this year also with the stripes down the inside of the back, really odd looking especially on the taller players.

Blicher's superman is always nice to see though. Good job on the big man. Thanks for the college hoops coverage Dan.

Posted by: JDP | February 9, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Woah woah woah. You thought you could just let that one slide by. Dressed up as a *cow*? Do tell.

Posted by: James | February 9, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

the gold is too close to the color of the floor

of course i don't care if we are going undefeated in gold.......

Posted by: winterps win | February 10, 2008 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I thought it looked pretty good. Alot of other schools do red, including NC State, not many others with gold. We're lucky, all of our school colors look gooooooooooooooood.

Posted by: EricS | February 10, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Is it really a Maryland basketball story without mention of couch burning or College Park riots?

Posted by: Kim | February 10, 2008 1:15 AM | Report abuse

We busted out the black unis in the 2006 ACC tourney only to lose to BC.

Posted by: Go Terps | February 10, 2008 1:27 AM | Report abuse

I loved the gold jerseys- a throwback to the Bias days. Boom looks old school in the gold. Black would be cool, but Gary is pretty set in his ways on change. Anyone see him come out before the game to recieve his 600 wins award? I do not think he liked his pregame routine being messed with.

Posted by: J.S. | February 10, 2008 2:41 AM | Report abuse

"Raise High the Black & Gold" we've got the coolest color scheme in college athletics. our state flag is routinely judged by contemporary artists as a classic and complex work. don't bury the black uni's. it pisses me off that duke, nc state, others have stolen black color or trim to copy our scheme.

Posted by: steve '74 | February 10, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

The four colors are the official colors because of the four colors of the maryland State Flag, red, white, black and gold, representing founding families of Maryland the Crosslands and the Calverts.

Posted by: halligan, class 72 | February 10, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I remember some of the Bias / Keith Gatlin teams in gold, and in black.

They're a cool change from time to time... as Halligan notes it is a unique feature of the flag and state, so why not the team...

Bring back the Blacks as well! Go Terps!

Posted by: Mark, class 90 | February 10, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love that Maryland state flag and its multi-colored glory.

Posted by: | February 10, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

The yellow unis are tight, 2-0 and reminiscent of the Bias era. That's a win-win-win.

Posted by: Jamie Mottram | February 10, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Project Runway reference. Awesome!

Posted by: Max Wass | February 10, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Definitely a reminder of the 80's when the Terps would wear gold for non-conference home games and white for conference home games.

Posted by: Elias Phipps | February 10, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Also loved the gold jerseys and the throwback nod to the old days. That's twice this season I've been giddy. I have no interest in the black. We should just keep wearing red on the road (or at home if we're playing football) and not bother changing something that looks so damn good.

Posted by: Johnny D | February 10, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

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