Under Armour may be known for its bold, less-than-conservative uniform designs. But little will change about the look of Notre Dame's uniform when a 10-year deal with Under Armour begins this July.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank announced the deal on Tuesday, which Swarbrick said is the largest of its kind at the collegiate level. For Notre Dame, plenty went into partnering with the burgeoning apparel giant -- but a key factor was keeping the team's football look the same.
"We're not anticipating doing anything unusual, crazy," Plank said. "We need to honor and respect the history of the university."
It would've been a self-destructive move for Notre Dame to change one of its most recognizable brands, so it's hardly surprising Under Armour won't tinker a whole lot with the football uniforms. While Under Armour surely will have the same freedom adidas enjoyed to create a Shamrock Series uniform, those designs will remain limited to one game per year.
"We will control the look and feel of the uniforms," Swarbrick said.
Swarbrick pointed out, too, that Under Armour doesn't always produce bold, controversial looks for its clients. Not everyone wears some version of Maryland's flag uniform.
"If there's a school that changes its uniforms less than we do, it's Auburn," Swarbrick said (Auburn has been an Under Armour client since 2006). "They don't make any modifications to their uniform, and Under Armour has been very comfortable with that, has been a great partner with them and obviously this year proved they can be a great partner with them."
What Swarbrick is most excited for is bringing Under Armour's uniform technology to South Bend. That's where the greatest modifications to the Notre Dame uniform will come from, with Swarbrick using the example of having football jerseys that can't be easily grabbed in the trenches.
"We want Notre Dame, our coaches and our student athletes, to be an Under Armour laboratory, a proving ground for new technologies," Swarbrick said. "We're committed to helping them do that, and they're committed to using us for that purpose."
The notion of Notre Dame being a laboratory for a company known for pushing the envelope may be a little unsettling for traditionalist Irish fans, but as long as Swarbrick is at the helm, Under Armour won't have free reign to blow up the football team's classic look. Among plenty of other reasons, Swarbrick's sanity depends on it.
"I so enjoy the mail I get each week after the Shamrock Series game that there's little chance that I would extend any more of that," Swarbrick said.