Rose Bowl Matchup: All About the Pants
DRESSING LEFT IN A DRESS RIGHT WORLD
Trousers Reveal Why Bowl Games are Home Games for the Sunbelt
By Joe Bodolai
While pundits are enjoying reveling in the differences in the style of play between Ohio State and the Oregon Ducks, the Buckeyes’ arrival in Los Angeles made headlines over pants. Yet, it is precisely the issue of trousers that most clearly becomes a metaphor for the two teams’ wildly different styles.
Oregon is famous for its over three hundred possible uniform configurations for each game. One frilly though hot Los Angeles ”sports reporter“ asked Ducks’ coach Chip Kelly what uniform combo they were going with for the big game. They actually have a uniform coordinator to ensure that one player isn’t wearing a silver duck wing on the shoulder when everyone else is wearing green duck wings with a drop shadow. (”No! It’s the green duck wings with the drop shadow, not the green duck wings with the silver highlights.“) When they talk ”throwback“ uniforms they mean last week.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, wore throwback uniforms this season but who knew? The scarlet and gray has been the scarlet and gray since the colors were created when the earth cooled. Ohio State can wear exactly two possible uniform combinations, road scarlet jerseys and home white while the pants remain the same.
The uniforms actually do showcase the differing styles. Ohio State’s conservative approach and tradition is a polar opposite of Oregon’s flashy America’s Next Top Football Model approach. Season highlight films for the Ducks look like an anthology of different years. Some say there are actually sportswriters and fans in the Emerald State who can precisely remember what game and what year a clip is by the uniform! Or maybe not. We’ll take that one to Snopes.
The event that made news was coach Jim Tressel’s dress code. When the players were boarding the bus to head to Lawry’s, a popular tourist restaurant, quarterback Terrelle Pryor and two other players were not allowed to go because they were wearing jeans. The Buckeyes were a nattily dressed bunch as the defensive line devoured slabs of prime rib as if they were Michigan quarterbacks. And they couldn’t have seemed more like outsiders. Coach Tressel apparently does not know that jeans are actually formal business attire in many Los Angeles circles. I have even seen Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger walking into a Starbuck’s on Ocean Park Boulevard in jeans!
The pants issue made me aware of the many little things that add up to ”home field advantage“. There are many little things, such as feeling like an outsider on the bus trip to Pasadena while Trojans players know the shortcuts. And bowl games, all played in warm weather locations, are clearly a home field for teams such as USC, LSU, Texas, etc. The biggest home field advantage is also highlighted by the weather. The Big Ten is finished playing at the end of November and has to practice for their bowl games at indoor practice facilities while USC, LSU, etc. can actually practice on their actual home fields. Indoor practice and a six-week layoff before the big games in January are a huge disadvantage for the Big Ten and has been a factor in the Buckeyes’ two losses to Florida and LSU. One prominent coach described indoor practices as ”like driving 30 miles an hour on the freeway“. (Actually, that’s probably an even faster speed than driving on the 405.) USC, LSU, Texas, and the rest can practice in the same weather and pump in crowd noise, etc. to get the players closer to the actual experience of the game environment.
So, until Ohio State and the other cold weather states adopt the other conferences’ ”dress codes“ regarding schedule, and embrace the bowl location environment they will always be wearing ”the wrong pants“.
(This article also appears on Erie View, Dan Goldberg’s new sports blog at http://dg7007.wordpress.com/