Terps Go Gold Again
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."
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