The Washington State Cougars and Arizona State Sun Devils took a step forward this week, unveiling new uniforms and generating a buzz that stretch nationwide. The changes were superficial and surely won’t turn ordinary athletes into extraordinary ones, but the new uniforms do serve a purpose. It’s about marketing and branding for each school, and represents a new era and new philosophy as the Cougars and Sun Devils step forward into the 21st century.
Over at CougCenter, we looked at why the changes are coming now as the athletic program sits at its lowest point in years. Teams are under-performing, yet athletic director Bill Moos is making a hard push for funding and appealing to boosters for money. But one could argue now is the time to make these changes and a big fundraising push, using it as a building block to the future.
Instead of waiting until the product on the field takes significant steps forward, the athletic department is sewing the seeds in the present in hopes of future success. If Moos were to wait to make changes to the Cougar brand, it’d be far too late to capitalize on the success of the program. Instead, Washington State is working to stay one step ahead, generating excitement in hopes of increasing revenue in the immediate to get the athletic department through a dark time while preparing for a future we all hope is filled with success.
Arizona State fans are realistic in their expectations, but admit the uniforms do inspire confidence. It’s the old look good, feel good mentality, though the new uniforms also bring heightened expectations for those donning the jerseys on the field of play.
All of the flair from these new uniforms will provide a boost to player confidence and recruiting, a la Oregon.
No one is saying that these uniforms are going to change ASU from a middle-of-the-Pac school to an elite athletic university, but what happens next is key. The Sun Devils most prove it on the field, or else all of this is meaningless.
Both schools hold no illusions about the changes, but are excited about the conscious branding effort. College athletics is a business and the Cougars and Sun Devils have begun to tackle it as such. For two athletic departments that need the money and are desperate to compete with the big boys in the Pac-12, this week is their time in the sun, and serves as an opportunity. Whether Washington State and Arizona State can capitalize on it remains to be seen.