For the first time in years, people were talking about Maryland football. In the first game of the 2011 season, Maryland took the field against Miami will all new white uniforms, and a stunning football helmet with the state flag seeming to be wrapped around the helmet. The uniforms were white, which is somewhat atypical for football uniforms where most teams wear their white uniforms on the road and a solid dark color at home. The numbers were in red with a frenetic pattern of shading.
The shoulders had black and red patterns that matched up with the helmet. The helmet, however, blew everyone away. The Maryland flag is based on the English heraldic banner of George Calvert. Looking at the flag like a compass, the northeast and southwest corners have a cross with all four ends crossed in offsetting red and white. The northwest and southeast corners have a strange disproportioned yellow and black checkerboard. The overall pattern is striking and very eye-catching. Taking these two patterns, the cross and the checkerboard, and painting them on either side of the Maryland football helmet was a brilliant move. A school known more for basketball if anything, in a conference (the ACC) mostly known for basketball, was suddenly front page news for football.
When Under Armour designed the new uniforms and helmets, they knew that they would attract attention to the program; look at what cool, modern uniforms have done for the University of Oregon Ducks. There is no way they could have anticipated just how much attention the uniforms, especially the helmets, would attract. The helmets were the buzz of the web for days and lit up Twitter with comments, mostly negative. Everyone from LeBron James to the talking heads of ESPN tweeted about them. Articles on major newspapers like the Washinton Post and USA Today received hundreds of comments. The saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” kept getting repeated over and over again.
Colin Cowherd commented that even though old guys like him might have hated the Maryland football helmets, he knew that high school recruits all up and down the Eastern seaboard were probably lining up to try them on. Realizing they had perhaps struck gold, a few days after the first game, Maryland announced it was 10 game-worn football helmets and uniforms with starting bids of $500 for the helmets and $200 for the jerseys. Not only had Maryland received a lot of publicity, they were now being able to turn the publicity into money for their athletics programs.