Old-Style Uni Making a Return

Snyder's teams were sharp to the eye, won oodles of games on Saturday, and the Powercat brand is now one of the most identifiable nation-wide. While coach Ron Prince went another way in terms of uniform in his three seasons, Snyder made quick work in getting his uniform look back. Uniforms had already been ordered for the 2009 season, but beginning on Sept. 4 when the Wildcats take the field against UCLA, the Wildcats will have that 1989-2006 design. Current equipment manager Chuck Hall said, "Coach wanted to go back to that first look, but we have added a Powercat to the base of the 'V' of the neck, and from last year we've added the two white stripes on the sleeve like the Cowboys have." Other modest changes this year include a shinier pant ... more silver ... to the dullish gray of recent years. In 1988 under coach Stan Parrish, like Prince did in 2008, K-State wore a purple over purple uniform on occasion. To that, in his first tenure and again today, Snyder gave, and gives, a quick, "That one isn't going to make it." Also not making it in 1989 was the lighter shade of purple that K-State was using with its uniforms. Nike representatives initially told Snyder that the company could not go any deeper in color but then developed the "New Orchid" purple that is used today. Kansas State has an all-school deal with Nike - thanks in large part to Coach Snyder's long-term relationship with the company - while the men's and women's basketball programs have "Nike Elite" status. For the total department, K-State earns over $1 million in retail value of Nike equipment, which is dispersed among all of its teams. Every October, Hall mulls over the K-State designed Nike catalog, ordering football gear for the following season. That's everything from uniforms, to rain gear, to a collection of polos - some for nonconference games and a new design for Big 12 games - to a variety of caps, hats, visors and " ... absolutely everything that we will be wearing next year." Once the season begins, that exact gear that the Wildcat coaching staff wears will be offered to the public in a variety of retail stores. It's with the general public that Nike hopes to recoup its generosity with its "Elite" programs. Of picking the colors and designs, Hall quips, "I'm considered an equipment manager, but also a trend setter in what we're going to wear." At Louisville from 2001-2008 as equipment manager, Hall said he had to "think a little outside the box" to get a brand would be recognized for a non-BCS institution. At K-State, he says, "Our brand is in place. The Powercat is who we are. We are purple and white. Our Powercat is like the white helmet at Penn State." Hall estimates that it costs $2,000 to outfit a football player for the season. That's between $240 and $350 per helmet, $300 for pads, $250 for the jersey and pants, six to eight pair of shoes for each player at $50 per pair, and then throw in the hundreds of t-shirts, warm-ups, and on and on. Wait ... six to eight pair of shoes per player? "We rotate game shoes about every third game," said Hall. "They are so light in weight, when you get a 300-pounder on them three to four hours a day,  or receiver making sharp cuts on them, they just don't last that long. The worst thing we can do as a staff is make our athletes try to compete with feet that hurt." Hall said there is a normal rotation of demoting a game shoe to a practice shoe before retiring it permanently. Hall, who says he probably has 1,500 pair of shoes on hand, says that a 12-spike molded shoe is the norm, but K-State does have a collection of seven-stud spikes for the rare game played on natural grass. While Hall says that Nike is the brand of choice for all wearing the Powercat brand, he adds that there's honestly not a choice. "With our contract with Nike, there are no exceptions," Hall said. "But, their product is the best in the world. Kids don't complain. Kids want to wear the 'Swoosh.'"  We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.