COLUMBIA – As soon as Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel stepped away from the podium Monday afternoon, his weekly press conference turned into a fashion show.
Athletic department officials brought in a mannequin decked out in the special uniform the Tigers will wear Saturday in their game against Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium. Nike chose 10 schools whose athletic programs have contracts with the company, and designed one distinct uniform for each.
Don Barnes, who is director of equipment operations for the MU athletic department, discussed various aspects of the uniform while members of the media passed around a sample football helmet, gloves, cleats, and pants.
The uniform, which will only be used for this year's game against Kansas, features:
- a white jersey with dark gray numbers and black letters. The only gold visible on the shirt is a thin line of trim at the edge of the sleeves.
- a charcoal dark gray helmet with a black "M". According to Nike, the "M" is meant to blend in with this helmet instead of standing out as it usually does. The stripes running along the center of the helmet are also black.
- cleats that are considerably lighter in weight. The higher parts of the cleats are black and the lower parts are gold. The bottom of each cleat is also gold.
- gloves with a different grip than Missouri's previous gloves have. The yellow straps are labeled with the team's motto for this season, "Beast Mode." When a player holds his hands together, the gloves display the Missouri Tigers logo on the palms.
Barnes said the dark gray that is prominent throughout the uniform is meant to give Missouri the look of a "stealth bomber."
Senior safety Del Howard was one of several players wearing a white T-shirt with an image of the dark gray helmet printed on it.
"My favorite part is possibly the cleats," Howard said after thinking about the uniform change for a moment. "It has that black and gold and normally we have just black and white cleats."
Sean Weatherspoon agreed the cleats were his favorite part but said he liked the gloves as well. The senior linebacker said he was impressed how Nike put the outfit together.
"The way they did it, it's just amazing," he said.
Last year against Kansas, the Tigers wore gold jerseys in their 40-37 loss.
"They (the Jayhawks) might not recognize us at first, but we'll make sure we let them know who we are pretty soon," Weatherspoon said.
WASHINGTON GETTING HEALTHY: Running back Derrick Washington, who suffered a mild concussion Saturday in the Iowa State game, has been cleared to practice for the rest of the week. Pinkel said Monday he is "very confident that he'll play" against Kansas.