Gold helmets with maroon jerseys. Maroon pants and maroon helmets with white jerseys. White jerseys with gold helmets and pants. The all-maroon look.
This mixing and matching — 36 potential gameday ensembles — is the Gophers' take on college football's hottest trend. Uniform mishmashing, jumbling and redesigning — it's more fashionable than the read option or no-huddle offenses these days.
And while they lack (thankfully, some would say) the countless blinding neon green and biohazard yellow options of the Oregon Ducks, the Gophers have their three dozen combos among their home, road and alternate uniforms to keep pace with the flashy trend.
"It just gives us a different look, a little different option for the guys," said Kyle Gergely, Gophers football director of equipment operations. "Gives us a little extra 'juice' if you will, because in our eyes, the alternate uniform is more of a players' uniform as opposed to what we traditionally do."
Nike steamrollered tradition over the past several years and transformed the look of uniforms with the help of some of the nation's top programs, including Oregon and Ohio State. These Nike-affiliated universities have several hundred uniform combinations, down to the type of cleats and gloves they wear, and they'll get yet another makeover for the first College Football Playoff.
The sports apparel giant, which designs all of Minnesota's uniforms, unveiled special playoff uniforms for the four playoff teams — Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State — that will feature new design and technology that is supposed to make the experience better for the athlete.
It also improves the experience and merchandise options for the fan. Minnesota senior associate athletic director of communications Chris Werle said the outside response to new helmet or uniform announcements has been strong.
And the players don't mind the upgrades. Gophers director of football recruiting operations Billy Glasscock said recruits want to envision themselves in the best gear, and extra options are necessary.
"The trend right now is to be able to have multiple options on gameday to wear," Glasscock said. "Believe it or not, that actually can hurt you in recruiting if kids can't picture what they're going to look like in that uniform. For us, it's super important, and because everyone else is doing it or trying to do some form of it.
"It's kind of like when you dress up when you're wearing a suit, you want to stand out. You want to be the sharpest-dressed guy in the room, and I think that's what they look like from a recruiting standpoint."
The Gophers celebrated the 2013 postseason with the return of white helmets for the Texas Bowl. The "new" alternate hardware actually was a nod to tradition. The white helmets can be seen in old Gophers football photos in the press box at TCF Bank Stadium.
What will they be wearing when they run out onto the Citrus Bowl field? The Gophers still are discussing which combination to break out on New Year's Day, a familiar process. Werle called the weekly decision-making on uniforms as "collaborative and organic" between players, coaches and others in the program. Unlike some other Nike-affiliated schools, Minnesota will not have new uniforms designed for the bowl.
The gold helmets that the Gophers unveiled this season and wore in the Big Ten West Division showdown at Wisconsin are the former white helmets painted a new color.
"That gold helmet we've been working on for probably about two years to get it exactly the way we wanted it," Gergely said. "Working with Coach [Jerry] Kill and Coach [Tracy] Claeys and some of the players just to make sure that gold was about as close to the gold in our uniforms — jersey and pants — we could get.
"I'm not a big uniform guy, but if our players are uniform guys and they really like that kind of stuff, that's what I'm going to do. That's what Coach wants us to do — he's a players' guy. So as long as we're taking care of the players and give them some good product out on the field, that's what we're going to do."
Making new products takes time and patience. The Gophers debuted new uniforms in 2012 after an 18-month process directed by a Nike designer. Though some of the blue-chip Nike-sponsored programs have an excess of uniforms, the Gophers and most other FBS football teams have three color combinations to mix and match.
The Gophers men's and women's basketball teams will add a "blackout" alternate to their regular uniforms this season, and the men's hockey team wore a specialized jersey for last season's outdoor Hockey City Classic. The hockey uniforms later were auctioned for charity.
Glasscock said it's important that programs stay faithful to school colors and traditions when dreaming up new uniforms. The Gophers' maroon football helmet has a matte finish that feels and looks like brick, which plays into the football philosophy of building a program "brick by brick," he said. His favorite uniform combination is the maroon helmet, maroon jersey, gold pants. Gergely has two favorites: all maroon, or maroon helmet, white jersey, maroon pants.
"We don't want to get to the point where we lose our identity," Glasscock said. "I think some teams have done that. … We definitely want to keep our identity right who we are — maroon, gold, white — that's Gopher football."