SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame's contract with adidas is up after the 2013-2014 academic year, and the possibility exists the Irish will begin next season wearing Nike or Under Armour uniforms.
But if a change does come about, don't expect any significant changes to Notre Dame's football look. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick told The Observer (Notre Dame's student newspaper) that if the Irish do switch to Nike or Under Armour, that company will have to take Notre Dame's status as a national, highly recognizable brand into consideration.
"We really need our apparel partner to embrace that concept and to treat us differently,” Swarbrick told The Observer. “It sounds selfish, but it’s just about being a national brand. There’s one approach when you’re primarily a regional brand and a great regional brand, but we’re not. We’re a national brand and need a partner who can help fuel that.”
In the past, adidas and Notre Dame have only made small tweaks to the iconic uniforms, with the only drastic changes being for one-off Shamrock Series games. And for those fearing what Nike or Under Armour would do for Shamrock Series designs, it's not like adidas hasn't gone bold with the look in the past.
Both Nike and Under Armour are popular with recruits and college players, often for uniforms (see: Oregon and Maryland) that deviate greatly from "classic" looks.
"Nike is probably the No. 1 company college kids like, or really any youth," tight end Troy Niklas said on Saturday. "They've done a really good job marketing their products and have a solid product."
Niklas noted any differences between adidas and Nike would probably be minimal. Still, the Droid-toting tight end offered a brand analogy:
"Are their products really that much better than Adidas? Probably marginally," Niklas said, "but it's the aura around Nike, just like it's the aura around the iPhone."