At the start of the 2021 season, there were questions about who the UCF Knights apparel supplier would be in 2022. UCF’s deal with Nike was expiring. Would the Knights stick with the Swoosh or switch to Adidas?
We found out that the Knights will stay with Nike as it was announced that a two-year contract extension has been agreed. This ends the “will they or won’t they” when it comes to switching to another apparel company.
There’s more to unpack here than meets the eye.
This story was on the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday. In the article, the UCF athletic director stated some key things we need to talk about. From the article:
Mohajir cited a number of reasons why UCF decided to renew its agreement with Nike, including supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will probably extend for two years,” Mohajir told the Sentinel. “Where we are in the supply chain and with some of the other brands changing CEOs at this particular time, I don’t think now is the best time to negotiate a new deal, to be very frank with you.”
This is similar to a “bridging agreement” in hockey. It functions as a bridge between one transaction and the next big transaction. Two years is a short contract. Most new clothing contracts are longer, but you don’t really go shorter than two. This short-term extension means that in 2024 a new contract will be required. I want to point out that 2024 is the last time UCF will move to the Big 12 conference. The exact time UCF moves to is still uncertain. UCF’s value is expected to be higher when the Knights change conferences. Also, with Covid still an issue, the global economy and supply chain still working to get back to normal, ditching the box isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Yes Tampa Bay Lightning star Brayden Point can sign a bridge deal, as can UCF.
The timing of this new contract also coincides with the launch of the new Knight’s Head logo. UCF has used a bowed knight’s head in one form or another since the 1996 name change, with the knight changing in 2007. This name change is very reminiscent of the name change of the Missouri Tigers did when in 2012 when they moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. Interestingly, they also have black and gold colors. While they’ve rebranded across multiple sports, let’s focus on football. They updated their uniforms and changed the logo on their long-used M-block helmet to the Tigers logo. The tiger’s head became the school’s main logo. Although I don’t expect the knight’s head to become UCF’s main logo (it was supposed to be in 2007 with the swinging sword logo, but the football program chose to use the blocky UCF logo we know and love today), I do expect it to see more use than the previous crankhead. New era, new use of the logo. I would love to see UCF refrain from using the bloc logo so much, especially on helmets. Hopefully UCF can put the script logo on both sides and use the knight head more often. I would love to see the head of the Citronaut on the Space Game helmet.
Speaking of the Space Game, they’re not going anywhere. UCF develops these uniforms in-house. It’s a shame I could only afford to land one at the last uniform auction.
Unfortunately, since this is an extension with Nike, it still counts as a continuation of the original agreement. The UCF has traditionally been fairly tight-lipped about the financial aspect of its dealings, which allows it to continue to do so.
So how did we get here in the first place?
After an unfortunate, well-documented chain of events with UCF, basketball player Marcus Jordan and Adidas, UCF was scrambling to find a new clothing partner. The Knights contacted Nike, Under Armor and Russell. In the end, UCF went with Nike on a fairly straightforward deal. In 2015, then-sporting director Todd Stansbury extended the deal. When Scott Frost was hired in 2016, part of his deal with Nike also included two extra years to give you the 2021 expiration. (2021-22 school year to be exact)
In 2016, Nike gave UCF the red carpet treatment for its football program, designing a custom set of uniforms based on its Mach Speed model, which was introduced in 2014. UCF created a few additional uniforms in using the newer Vapor model, but for the most part haven’t strayed far from the older model. Like Missouri, UCF also changed their helmet. Since 2004, when UCF first signed with Adidas, the current Pegasus Series uniforms have had the longest tenure as primary uniforms with six seasons without any changes. According to Mohajir, change is in the air and I couldn’t be more excited. One thing I love about uniforms is seeing them change and evolve, not just in design, but with the weight and feel of the material. According to the Sentinel:
“We have a new design on the uniforms that we’re really going to stick with with the black and gold palette as opposed to charcoal,” he said. “I know I’ll put this out there and the fans will cringe but we’re black and gold, man.”
As Mohajir mentioned above, the use of anthracite is over.
THX! No new decisions though… We choose to use black rather than anthracite in this next series of plains. Charcoal is mostly used when the primary school color is not black! We are lucky, our main color is black! We will be the only school in the Big 12 that is black and gold!
—Terry Mohajir (@TerryMohajirAD) March 2, 2022
In this case, Mohajir is correct. Anthracite is a Nike exclusive name for a dark charcoal gray that can be mistaken for black when a person is not paying attention. It’s also an alternative for a school that doesn’t use black that much. In short, it was a redundant color and by far my least favorite of the four UCFs introduced in 2016. Some fans might be upset, but they should get over it pretty quickly.
To add to that, AD associate for content Eric DeSalvo flatly said there were no gold jerseys.
We have control over these new threads and no, gold jerseys don’t happen
— Eric DeSalvo (@EricDeSalvo) March 1, 2022
To thank. God.
Hopefully they don’t bring back anything resembling those Knighto jerseys either, especially the white ones.
UCF tried to use gold jerseys three times in the FBS era. They used them as their main home uniforms from 2005 to 2009 when the Knights were with Adidas. They had one during their first model with Nike from 2010-12, then another during the second model from 2013-15. Since 2016, UCF has not used a gold jersey and it is very heartwarming to continue not using one. It doesn’t work well in football. One of the main reasons is that shading is hard to get right. When UCF changed its name in 2007, the color was “Vegas Gold”, which is a darker gold. All three variations of gold uniforms were lighter shades that looked even worse as moisture, including sweat, covered them.
I own all three. While the newer version on the left has the closest shade to gold that would fit, it’s still not there.
For those who don’t know, I am an avid collector of jerseys. While I had a few here and there buying cheap jerseys at the store or playing sports, the real collection started in 2004 with my first two UCF replica jerseys. Over time I have focused on games used or issued by the team for UCF and other teams and schools. In total, I have well over 130 jerseys (I don’t have a recent count). For UCF, I have 27 game-issued or team-issued football jerseys (including an unused prototype) and 72 total, not including replicas. They date from the days of the I-AA in the first half of the 90s until today. I see it as preserving history. It’s a little outdated, but I’ve photo-documented most of them on the Twitter feed below.
In honour of #nationaljerseyday, I have photo documented part of my closet collection. These are either team issues or games used to the best of my knowledge and do not include any lines I have.
This is the UCF collection.
— Andrew (@StatBoyDrew) November 5, 2021
Hey UCF, I’m available for a scramble with the uniforms. Just kidding… or is it me?
To conclude, UCF reconnected with Nike for two years. As Mohajir made it very clear, they were seriously looking to move elsewhere, but outside forces made staying with Nike on this short deal the smartest move. For Nike lovers, don’t be comfortable. For fans of other apparel companies, we’ll be doing this dance again soon enough. UCF said it has some new designs in the works and, as anyone who’s seen a complete overhaul reveals multiple times, they’re exciting. Until then, everyone should enjoy the ride.