Was it nervous anticipation or an excited anxiety? The buildup towards Thursday's unveiling of the era of Adidas had endured just as much skepticism as it did bubbling enthusiasm.
ASU had left the football titan that is Nike and opted to join forces with a European company that's most-established in soccer. But the uptick in money earned and the chance to be a priority school for a brand was enough to sway the Sun Devils, and so Sparky joined the Three Stripe Life.
Months later, as the excitement for the upcoming Sun Devil football season hits a peak, Adidas finally unveiled the new threads that Arizona State will be taking the field in this season. Similar to the years under Nike, ASU will introduce special uniforms for marque games periodically and the uniforms that Adidas released Thursday were just the base threads.So, how did Adidas do?
Helmets: When Nike introduced the pitchfork as ASU athletics' main logo a few years back, it completely changed the aesthetic of the university and how the school was perceived by a national audience. By using a pitchfork on both sides of the base helmets and bringing out the oversized fork/number combination for some of the full-color games (away Whiteouts, home Maroon Monsoon), the pitchfork’s place on the football field was done perfectly.
So while Adidas didn’t have much to improve upon when they took control of the helmets, there are subtle differences. For starters, we’ve seen an enlarged fork put on the black helmets, with gold trim to complete the gorgeous lid. But the best part about the black helmets is that the enlarged fork takes the place of the flame helmets that were donned twice by ASU during the Nike years. The flames are a concept to be kept in the ether for future redesign but for now, adding the enlarged fork to the blackout uniforms was a good move.
On the other hand, it looks like ASU will be rocking its beautiful whiteout uniforms without the enlarged fork on the helmet, a change from the outfit the Sun Devils wore for marque road games in the past. Whereas the maroon and black helmets look markedly better with the enlarged fork/player number combo, the dual-fork that Adidas implemented on the Stormtrooper uniforms makes the icey white on the helmet pop more. The enlarged fork draped over the helmet, distracting from the simplistic beauty of white. Plus I love Star Wars so the closer we get to that the happier I am.
As I mentioned, the maroon helmets maintain the enlarged fork design for the Maroon Monsoon threads, but for the base home maroon/maroon/gold uniform Adidas threw on the double pitchfork. Where Adidas caught my attention was with the gold helmets that surfaced Thursday morning on a mannequin. My favorite uniforms that ASU has ever worn were the gold/white/gold with Sparky on the helmet that they sported for the 2014 Territorial Cup, and I was really hoping we’d see the gold helmet with Sparky make a permanent return.
That aspiration did not come to fruition, as Adidas chose to slap the double fork on the pictured gold helmet. Does it look bad? No. Would it look 100x better with Sparky on the top? Hell yeah. Of course, special uniforms such as the Territorial Cup threads weren’t released along with the base uniforms Thursday, and we could very well see the return of Sparky to the gold helmet, where he just looks superb.
All in all, the helmets didn’t need much done to them and Adidas didn’t do much. I love the simplicity and especially love seeing numbers on the side of the helmets, which stay alive in new era. Still hoping for Sparky to show up sometime this November but for now, the helmets are HOS approved.
Jerseys: Every Sun Devil has heard they school called Arizona at least one time in their life. Whether it be a clueless uncle at a family barbeque, an East Coast-based broadcaster or just anyone who doesn’t know what the ‘S’ in ASU means, we’ve all had to correct somebody for mistaking us with the Tucsonese (Is that what they’re called). Tucsonites? Whatever.
Well, Adidas heard your prayers, and with the new jerseys did away with the small "Sun Devils" type and instead put "Arizona State" and then changed the font size to 36. You can’t look at these new uniforms without seeing it’s Arizona State’s, and that’s awesome. "Sun Devils’ remains the choice for the blackout uniforms, although it’s been enlarged to actual visibility. Thank you Adidas.
Photo via: Josh Provost
Unfortunately, Adidas also pressed the enlarge button on the uniform numbers, as the new numbers look cartoonish and take up too much of the front of the jersey. The player name type on the back is too blocky for my taste, and the number on the back has an odd black outline that makes the number appear like it’s jumping out of the uniform. The number takes away from the rest of the uniform when it should blend in seamlessly.
Photo via: @MikeBerco
Adidas also did what I had feared since the day ASU signed the deal, and that’s add a watermark pattern to the jersey. Kind of like what ASU basketball has with a net watermarked in the back of the jersey, ASU’s now got this odd barbed wire running throughout its entire jersey. Don’t see the need for it, don’t see any benefit from it. Meh.
Photo via: @FootballASU
The new threads do away with the "ASU " print on the shoulder pads, likely due to the decision to add Arizona State to the front. I understand the reasoning, but the ASU type looked nice and I don’t think keeping it would be overkill. Guess it’s Appalachian State’s lucky day.
As for the colors of the uniforms, the maroon, white and black that ASU showed off looked identical to that of previous years, and the familiarity is welcome. It’s a small detail but the three stripe logo of Adidas looks nicer than the swoosh of Nike.
Grade: B+ I imagine we’ll see a Desert Fuel uniform sometime this season and those will need an article of their own, but so far the jerseys that I see from ASU take one step forward and a couple steps backward. I hate background patterns as well as cartoonish type, and the new Sun Devil uniforms feature both. While Adidas hit a home run by changing the front jersey type and enlarging it, they mar that progress with small missteps.
Pants: Whereas the pants ASU wore during the Nike era featured no design except for the Nike swoosh emblazoned on the side, Adidas one-upped Phil Knight’s crew and added a beautiful pitchfork to the side of the pants, changing color with each different uniform combination. The forks have no trim, a pattern we’re not used to seeing. The lack of trim allows the pitchfork to immerse itself into the pant leg without grabbing too much attention, so I like the change.
Grade: A Honestly, pants are pants and the pants that a team wears rarely allow for significant design. The only team I can think of that really pulls of pant designs are the San Diego Chargers, with the lightning bolt spreading down the side of the leg. But with ASU’s pitchfork slapped on the side of the thigh, it helps to complete the look without overtaking it.
Shoes: Along the same lines as pants, shoes are fairly one-dimensional in their applicable design and you rarely see teams take the field with kicks that draw attention. ASU’s won’t change that trend but the new cleats, but they did make a subtle move that improves each uniform combo. Black cleats are only implemented in the blackout uniforms while the rest of the threads sport white, a strong move as colored shoes tend to get in the way of a uniform’s consistency. Simple and sweet.
Photo via: @TheSunDevils
Grade: A+ Bonus points for the gold shoelaces that look superb.
Overall Grade for Base Uniforms: A-. ASU hit the uniform jackpot with a few of its threads for the Nike era, and all Adidas had to do was champion a few of them and the new era of Sun Devil aesthetic was set for takeoff. When House of Sparky asked its staff what they wanted from the new unis, I asked for the full-color uniforms to be put in rotation and a gold/white/gold repeat with Sparky up top. I got the former, and the full-color uniforms Adidas crafted are fantastic. Adding Arizona State to the front of the jersey is a major improvement and changing the type of fork used on the white and black helmets are subtle-yet-strong changes.
All photos courtesy of ASU athletics and azcentral unless noted otherwise.
I was a member of the "Oh no, Adidas" camp that saw the miserable uniforms they had put out for Louisville, Nebraska and others and cringed at the possibility of seeing ASU’s uniforms endure the same brutal treatment. While the new numbers will take some getting used to and my thirst for a full-time Sparky uniform hasn’t been quenched, Adidas started out their tenure with Arizona State on a sparkling note.