Arizona State announced Tuesday that it would sign a new apparel contract with adidas, leaving Nike, which had supplied the Sun Devils with gear since 2004 and oversaw the 2011 rebrand. ASU and adidas agreed to a deal for $33.8 million over the next eight years through June 2023.
The reaction from some fans was harsh. Brand loyalty to Nike is in the upper echelon along with Apple, nearing an almost religious-like status for certain people who have to have the latest and greatest in Nike gear. All because it has the swoosh on it. But guess what the "swoosh" was doing to ASU?
"It was timing," athletic director Ray Anderson said. "Greg and I were very fortunate to come in at a time when the original deal was expiring. It gave us an opportunity to say, 'well, do you automatically look at it and renew it? Or do you take an opportunity to really see what others feel about you?"
Nike clearly didn't feel the Sun Devils were a high priority.
The 2014-15 contract ASU has with Nike pays a little over $2.1 million. Adidas came in at $4.225 million and Nike didn't match that offer. That contract would slate the Sun Devils No. 7 among 85 top collegiate athletic programs in the country per the Portland Business Journal. ASU is currently No. 32 on that same list with the Nike deal. Ray Anderson would have to be crazy to lose over $2 million and renew with Nike just so the gear has one logo on it over another.
So if the money makes sense, then it doesn't make sense in terms of recruiting right? No way ASU can compete against the "Nike" schools like Oregon.Today's recruit subscribes to the motto of "look good, feel good, play good."
Sorry, I don't buy that. The Ducks have been to the National Championship game and won four of the past six Pac-12 Championships while playing an up-tempo style similar to ASU. They've created a winning atmosphere with phenomenal coaches like Chip Kelly and have consistently shown their players matriculate to the NFL. That's why they're successful and recruits want to go there. Great uniforms are only an added bonus. Teams like Michigan, UCLA, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Texas A&M are all adidas schools and have no problem drawing high level recruits.
No recruit in their right mind is going to endure and be miserable in a poor program atmosphere with terrible coaching just so they can wear Nike gear. And if that is their mindset, then they're certainly not going to function well within Todd Graham's program where discipline and character are held in the highest regard.
Great players perform well no matter what they're wearing on the field. Words like "flywire" and "airmax" when stripped down are nothing more than branding nonsense that encourage you to buy the product. Everyone has to strap on football pads, in today's world of technology, the type of jersey they put on over the top matters minimally. Any fan that says a brand is the reason a program is losing football games needs to look at the bigger picture, because that's a sad excuse.
Alright well if the recruiting argument is null and void, they're still going to ruin the uniforms.
ASU won't let this happen either. The Sun Devils still own the trademark to the Pitchfork, Sparky and the Sun Devil bold font.
"I don't think anything drastic will occur," Ray Anderson said at the Tuesday press conference. "We'll do it deliberately, very appropriately, hopefully very artistically. It will be a combination of their input and ours because at the end of the day, we're the customer. They are our uniforms and this is our tradition."
That sounds pretty convincing to me, and Anderson has already proven that his talk isn't just noise going in one ear and out the other. ASU is a school that just rebranded in 2011, it isn't in the schools' best interest to stray too much farther from their current look. It always seemed, at least to me, that the Sun Devils were a second or third tier Nike school.
It wasn't a brand that Nike cared a lot about. It won't hurt Nike to lose ASU, its a minimal loss in their eyes. ASU will be one of less than 10 premier brands for adidas in the American football arena so they should get the attention it wants and adidas will want to make sure the uniforms look sharp.
Three of Nike's top designers Denis Dekovic, Mark Miner, and Marc Dolce, left for adidas at the end of September. I'm no design expert but that has to say something about where each brand is heading. Adidas is also already a leader in soccer and other Olympic sports too.
"Arizona State's rich athletic tradition, consistent success and bright future make them a perfect fit for the adidas family," Mark King, adidas North America president said. "Our long-term partnership with the Sun Devils highlights our commitment to U.S. college athletics and our focus on aligning ourselves with championship-level schools, teams and athletes. We are connecting with schools Americans love and will add more key partners like Arizona State to our roster as we continue to grow in college sports."
On top of that, the Sun Devils will pair with adidas to provide internships to students in ASU undergraduate programs and will use money from the partnership to provide facilities improvements. Add all of this up, and on the surface it sounds like a win to me. I'm going to give adidas it's fair shake, a chance to prove itself, and so should you.