It's hard to imagine what the snarling football coaches of yesteryear — think Bear Bryant or Woody Hayes — would have made of the poetry on the helmet and sleeves of the uniforms the University of Maryland played in Saturday.
But the Under Armour designers of Maryland's "Star-Spangled" uniforms, which highlight the Francis Scott Key poem "Defence of Fort M'Henry" in cursive, would like to think that the old-school coaches might have approved.
The uniforms, which the Terrapins wore in Saturday's home loss to West Virginia, were intended to promote the team and inspire players and fans. Ohio State's Hayes and Alabama's Bryant — who also coached Maryland in 1945 — were all about calculating novel ways to give their programs an edge.
Maryland's uniforms, which paid homage to the 200th anniversary of the poem that became the national anthem, are among eight unique designs produced by the Baltimore-based apparel and footwear company this season for its partner schools, including Navy and Notre Dame.
Specialty football uniforms are among Under Armour's splashiest, highest-profile offerings.
"I think the business of uniforms and the importance of that variety has taken on a life of its own in the last five years," said Adam Clement, Under Armour's creative director for team sports.
Not everybody is a fan. When Maryland unveiled the first generation of its multicolored "Pride" uniforms in 2011, NBA superstar LeBron James tweeted "#Ewwwww!" and Hall of Fame basketball player Bill Walton tweeted: "I hope someone pays Maryland to never wear these horrid uniforms again."
Some media observers poked fun at the school for unveiling a series of uniforms several years ago at a fashion show complete with a runway, blaring music, and players strutting and posing in them.
Specialty uniforms usually are designed to be worn once, perhaps twice. There was only moderate attention paid when Maryland and Under Armour released Pride 2.0 last season. The helmets, which evoked the state flag's Calvert and Crossland coats of arms, were hand-painted and airbrushed to create a sense of motion.
Unbeknownst to Maryland fans, the next new-fangled design, honoring Key's poem and the Battle of Baltimore, already was being developed.
"The Maryland football team is giving Under Armour a great platform to showcase their creativity," said Marc Bluestein, president and CEO of Aquarius Sports and Entertainment, a Gaithersburg-based marketing firm. "Baseball teams might wear camouflage uniforms for the military. What Maryland and Under Armour are doing would be kind of out front of what other schools are doing in terms of creating uniforms that have some sort of meaning."