COLUMBIA — For all the talk of Missouri's new cutting-edge uniforms, Don Barnes thought the Tigers opened the season with a pretty classic look.
"The black uniform, when I first saw it and pulled it out of the box, I thought, 'holy cow, this is a 1960s look: very subtle, looks like a one-color number on a jersey,'" he said. "Really old-fashioned looking, yet it's got all the newest technology."
Barnes, Missouri's equipment director, collaborated with Nike over the past two years to design the new uniforms. The new look has been on the field for two weeks, and Barnes is pleased with both the fan reception and the new technology.
The new uniforms, along with the new field design at Faurot Field, are part of a larger rebranding effort to give Missouri a distinct and nationally recognizable look.
The designs incorporate elements pulled from past Missouri uniforms and other state traditions. Although the Block M was removed from the helmet, the yellow stripe around the middle remains.
The anthracite gray on the road uniforms, which was first featured on Missouri's uniforms for its game against Kansas in 2009, was worked back into the uniform to represent the stealth bombers at the Whiteman Air Force Base, Barnes said.
While Barnes thinks the black home uniforms are a classic look, the Tigers' gold alternates, which they wore for their Southeastern Conference opener against Georgia, present a flashier option that scores well with recruits.
"Maybe once or twice a year you wear something like that," Barnes said. "I think we had 500 or 600 recruits in the stands (for the Georgia game), but every recruit in the country that we're going after was watching that game on TV."
Barnes said it took his staff about 20 minutes to put on each helmet decal for the Georgia game because the intricate logo needed to be laid just right.
While he has had some backlash from fans of the traditional look, Barnes said the feedback has been mostly positive, especially once fans understand the rebranding mission.
The Tigers' captains and seniors have already laid out which uniforms the team will wear each week, though Barnes says they won't be revealed until the team takes the field.
While the aesthetics of the uniform are the main concern of fans, Barnes emphasized their updated Nike technology. The material does not hold moisture, which means players will be lighter because it won't carry their sweat.
"Let's say we could cut out a full pound in our uniform, which we've done in our basketball and football uniforms," Barnes said. "In the course of a game, our skill guys are going to take 800 steps a game. That's almost a thousand pounds less that our guys have carried as opposed to the guys across the ball from them."
The material wasn't perfect during the Georgia game, and some players had visible sweat stains. It's one the challenges posed by the unfamiliar technology.
But with Missouri facing a new level of competition in the SEC, Barnes said the hassle is worth it.
"I can't quantifiably say, 'We affect this or that, because he was lighter,'" he said. "If there's a chance of giving them the advantage, we're going to do that. We're not going to take a chance."
Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.