Butch Jones hosts fashion show unveiling new Tennessee uniforms
Butch Jones answers questions about the new smokey-gray uniform
The University of Tennessee’s traditional color palette is adding a giant splash of gray.
The Vols unveiled an alternate uniform for their football wardrobe on Thursday, showing off a shadowy gray jersey and pants — the color is officially dubbed “smokey” — complemented by the traditional orange numbers and lettering.
There were some other less dramatic changes among the five uniforms that head coach Butch Jones showed off on his player models during a locker room fashion show that included mood lighting and music.
“I’m excited because our players are excited, and I think our fan base is excited,” Jones said. “The great thing about Tennessee is we have tradition. But any great organization is always embracing change.”
Few changes get college football fans more riled up than uniform alterations, which is why Jones stressed several times that he didn’t consider the changes to be too radical.
“We have the best colors in the country, and with the smokey gray jersey, I think it just adds to it,” he said.
The gray uniform is an alternate look that likely will be used in only one home game in 2013. The other less significant changes to the traditional home and road uniforms probably won’t be as alarming to traditionalists.
The primary home uniform still will include an orange jersey and white pants and the road jersey will have a white jersey with orange pants. But the white jerseys now have a checkerboard pattern on the numbers, a Power T logo on the back and “TENNESSEE” written above the numbers on the front. The orange jersey will have the outline of the state of Tennessee above the player names on the back of the jersey.
Players said they were excited about the changes. UT showed a video of Jones announcing the new look to players during a team meeting Thursday morning. Many players stood and cheered when linebacker Curtis Maggitt, who served as the primary gray-uniform model, strode into the meeting room.
“There had been a little talk about gray uniforms, and coach Jones was telling us there was going to be a surprise,” redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Peterman said. “When (Maggitt) came in, I was pretty pumped about it, to be honest.”
While Jones said he expects fans will like the new look, that’s not his primary audience.
“It’s all about recruiting,” he said.
That means capturing teens’ attention with bold designs.
“My phone has blown up with recruits across the country who are very, very excited,” Jones said.
Peterman, only a couple of years removed from the recruiting process, isn’t surprised.
“The high school kids like the bling, I guess. I think the young guys are going to like it,” he said.
Jones said don’t expect the uniform fashion show to be an annual event. This year’s changes were done carefully and cautiously in an effort to reflect “class” and tradition at Tennessee. He even cited the “smokey” gray uniforms worn by the undefeated 1914 UT team.
“We’re not going to be a program that’s all over the place with our uniforms,” he said.
The Vols play at the University of Oregon, a program known for its jersey diversity, on Sept. 14. Jones said the gray jerseys will be worn during a home game. Could it be Oct. 5 against Georgia? Oct. 19 against South Carolina?
“We have not decided which game it will be,” Jones said. “That’s still in discussions. As of now, the plan is a one-game deal. It could grow from that.”
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.