In many ways, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is a traditionalist. “The Best Damn Band In The Land,” “Carmen Ohio,” and the aura of Woody Hayes are all near and dear to the Buckeyes head coach’s heart.
But on the other hand, Meyer is also a modernist. He’s aware that behind winning games and graduating players, his main mission as the CEO of the Ohio State football program is to make sure that it stays in position to continue to do so, year in and year out.
“Recruiting’s the name of the game,” Meyer said on his weekly call-in show on Thursday.
So when the Buckeyes take the field on Saturday for their primetime matchup with Wisconsin, don’t expect them to be wearing their traditional scarlet uniforms and gray helmets. Rather, there’s a good chance that the OSU players will be decked out in the Nike ‘rivalry’ uniforms that they wore in last season’s 26-21 victory over Michigan.
The uniform set -- which features a chrome helmet with oversized Buckeye leaves, exaggerated sleeve striping on the jersey, along with reflective grey piping around white numbers -- isn’t a far departure from OSU’s regular get ups, but possesses enough uniqueness to appeal to both the traditionalist and recruiter inside of Meyer.
“The feedback from the rivalry game last year was incredible,” Meyer said of the uniforms. “Not just from our players and recruits but from Buckeye greats of old. So it's a good chance we'll be wearing the rivalry uniforms.”
Meyer’s words were backed up by his players, including sophomore defensive end Noah Spence, who referred to the uniforms that the Buckeyes will be wearing against the Badgers on Saturday as “hot.”
But do different uniforms have a tangible effect on a team? Cornerback Bradley Roby couldn’t put his finger on it, but admitted that wearing an alternate uniform gives some players an extra jolt of energy that doesn’t always come along with the jersey that they normally wear.
“Any time you get a chance to wear a different uniform, it's like, 'All right, cool, yeah, we're going to go kill them,'” Roby said. “There's something about wearing a different uniform that makes you play a little better."
Tight end Nick Vannett agreed with Roby in stating that the advantage that can come along with a new jersey is more real than imagined. Asked why that is, the redshirt sophomore pointed to the confidence that they can provide for some of the more fashion-savvy players on the OSU roster.
“Some guys, they tend to play good when they know they look good,” Vannett said. “I wish we could have those for every game. I think they’re really sweet. I think it’s a good deal to switch up the uniforms every now and then.”
Asked for his fashion expertise and opinion on the uniform, Meyer declined to answer. All the second-year Buckeyes head coach knows is that his team is currently undefeated while wearing it, and that its shine has the ability to catch the eye of a couple big name prospects who will be in attendance on Saturday.
“I’m not so much into looks. I’m into good players and recruiting,” Meyer said. “I like the result of the look.”