PROVO Retro is all the rage in sports circles.
From the National Basketball Association to the National Football League, teams are donning throwback uniforms to pay tribute to a bygone era.
A few college programs also bask in nostalgia. Last season, for instance, the University of Oklahoma sported jerseys similar to those worn by Sooner squads in the 1950s.
Brigham Young University has joined the trend to some extent.
A year ago, the school retired the jersey of former basketball star Danny Ainge, and last fall, it did the same for former football great Steve Young.
That has allowed BYU to sell replicas of those retro uniforms and in the Cougars' old royal blue color. The school's licensing and trademark specialist, Brett Eden, says sales of both items have been brisk.
"Having the Ainge jersey has opened a lot of doors nationwide, especially on the East coast, because he played in Boston (for the Celtics)," says Eden. "The Young jersey hasn't sold as well yet. Then again, Ainge's jersey has been out nine months longer than Young's."
"Those have been very popular pieces," says John Lewis, BYU associate advancement vice president of alumni and external relations. "It allows us as fans and alumni to identify with an icon and an era."
Adidas, meanwhile, has produced a throwback jersey of BYU quarterback legend Jim McMahon. A Web site mvp.com offers the McMahon jersey for $169.99 and the Ainge jersey for $89.99. Companies that manufacture such retro jerseys must acquire the permission of both BYU and the player.
Peter Pilling, BYU senior associate athletic director, says the time is right to offer these types of products. "Retro jerseys are a hot item right now," he says. "It's important to take advantage of that."
Some Cougar fans wonder when the retro craze will be taken a step further in Provo.
Could the football team emerge from the locker room at LaVell Edwards Stadium in the retro royal blue uniforms? Perhaps but probably not anytime soon.
"Some fans have suggested it," said Val Hale, BYU's athletic director. "But the trouble is the costs associated with that. To outfit a team with retro jerseys would cost about $400 to $500 per player. Plus, it would take at least a year to pull it off. If we did it, it would be a one-time thing."
Lewis and other school officials are concerned about going back to the royal blue just five years after the school adopted dark blue as its official color. "I like the idea, but I think we need to be careful about being so close to the change," says Lewis.
BYU fan Bruce Murdock, who campaigns for the Cougars to return to a lighter shade of blue, says he'd love to see a throwback game at Edwards Stadium. "It would be a lot of fun. I think fans would love it," Murdock says. "It would bring a lot of that old spirit back."
While BYU isn't planning on retro jerseys next season, the 2004 uniforms will undergo a minor adjustment, with a bit of a retro feel.
The past several years, the Cougars have worn all blue at home and all white on the road. Slight alterations include different striping on the shirts and the pants that will allow the team to have the flexibility to mix-and-match the tops and bottoms.BYU opens the 2004 season on Sept. 4 against defending national champion Southern California. The game will be played at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
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