By John Macon Gillespie
Ole Miss football released a new jersey on social media Wednesday night for the team’s season opener against Florida, and it took the internet by storm.
The jerseys feature the same design as the other three Ole Miss football tops but are the powder blue color featured on the team’s alternate helmets. Original Ole Miss helmets were this “powder blue” color off and on until 1994 when the team switched to the primary navy design full-time, but the program revived the powder blue look as an alternate in 2014. Since then, the alternate color has found its way into almost all Ole Miss sports in some form or another, but football had kept the color strictly on this version of its helmets until Wednesday.
There had been rumors floating for about a year that a powder blue jersey may be on the way for Ole Miss football to occasionally pair with the helmet, and Wednesday night served as the official confirmation of those rumors.
Let me preface my opinion on the new threads with this: I’m a traditionalist when it comes to uniforms. Ole Miss has some of the most classic and iconic uniforms in the SEC and nation, and it’s important not to stray too far from that and keep the traditional looks as the primary go-to. That being said, I think this is a nice move. The other major men’s sports (basketball and baseball) both have powder blue uniforms, and recruits and fans seem to like them for the most part. There’s nothing wrong with an alternate uniform to excite a recruiting class and fans as long as the classics remain at the forefront. College sports are a recruiting and money game after all, and keeping recruit and fan interest in mind is important when establishing a brand, and that includes uniforms.
There’s also the weather to consider. Odds are that when Ole Miss and Florida kick off at 11 a.m. on Sept. 26, it will be approximately 1,000 degrees in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and the lighter-colored jerseys are probably a good move for such conditions. The color of a jersey won’t give the Rebels any special edge against the Gators, but I’m sure the players will appreciate not wearing dark colors to start the season.
Also, Ole Miss is ushering in a new era for its football program with the Lane Kiffin administration. In a year where fan attendance will be limited due to COVID-19, fans can always remember Kiffin’s first game on the Rebel sideline as the one where they debuted the powder blue jerseys. For a uniform fanatic like myself, that’s something that will always stick out in my mind. Kiffin carries a very particular brand as an innovator wherever he goes, and although these powder blue jerseys have been in the works for some time (it often takes years to see the realization of a new uniform design), the fact that these jerseys are debuting in Kiffin’s first game as a Rebel is no coincidence. It’s a new and exciting time in Oxford, and this decision capitalizes on that momentum.
Overall, I’m a fan of the look. It’s not my favorite Ole Miss football uniform, but it’s a good change of pace, just as long as it doesn’t become overused. I look forward to getting a closer look at the threads as we get closer to kickoff on Sept. 26.