If somebody made me fill out one of those forms, “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me,” one of the very first things I’d admit is that I never, ever, wear black clothes. I guess I’ve got more clothes than a family of six, but there is not a shirt, a sweater, a pair of pants or anything else in my closet that is black.
So on Saturday, when the University of Tennessee wore black football jerseys for the first time since 1921, and when the University of Georgia wore black helmets for the first time since they started playing football in Athens back in 1892, I was among those who were a bit perplexed.
I could understand it with Georgia, where the school’s colors are red-and-black, but when Tennessee sprung “the Halloween jerseys” on an unsuspecting South Carolina, I found a positive in the fact the numbers were easy to read, but much prefer the Vols in the traditional orange-and-white.
My deal with black clothes I can’t explain. Nothing in the world is prettier on a woman when she wears a simple black dress with a smile. I’ve also read where the one indispensable item for a stylish male is a good black sweater, but when it comes me wearing black, the only time I was ever even tempted was when Lee Marvin shook “the shakes” in the movie “Cat Ballou” and donned his fancy gunslinger’s get-up.
Oddly, I have always wondered if my aversion to black doesn’t date back to when I was a little kid, watching westerns on the old black-and-white TV. Back then the bad guys would always wear black and Roy Rogers would instead wear the white hat. It is for that reason why some schools – even today – don’t allow their students to wear black and, while I keep a pair of black shoes shined to wear with a dark suit, I don’t have a black hat, a black golf shirt or anything that color.
Oh, I understand it hides dirt and stains. Go to any airport and almost every luggage bag you see is now black. But look in any parking lot and you’ll see people with black cars who have almost given up on keeping them clean.
For the record, I thought the Tennessee Halloween jerseys looked pretty good against South Carolina, but now comes word it was the players’ idea and UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton said Sunday it was a “one-time deal” despite the Vols’ 31-13 triumph over then nationally-ranked South Carolina.
Quarterback Jonathan Crompton said he felt the gimmick was a good one. “It was a change-up. We did it for the fans on Halloween night. When we went back into the locker-room after pre-game warm-ups, we knew we were going to do it. It was pretty exciting.”
Still, don’t look for it to happen again anytime soon. Hamilton was very specific when top players Eric Berry and Montario Hardesty approached him about wearing the black jerseys. “Don’t plan on doing it again,” Mike told the two.
The Georgia helmets seemed as cursed as the team against Florida. Once Georgia strapped the black “hats” on, the Bulldogs gave up eight penalties in the first half and four turnovers in the second to lose to Florida for the 17th time in 20 years, 41-17.
The Georgia players didn’t know they would make history until they came back into the Jacksonville locker room and saw the black helmets with red face guards, a white stripe and the familiar “G” decals. “It provided a spark,” said UGa quarterback Joe Cox. “Maybe every now and then you need some change to bring excitement and we needed excitement.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt explained Georgia had ordered the helmets about a year ago and, against the top-ranked Gators, it seemed like a good time to put them out. “We didn’t let the players know because we wanted to spring it on them. We were looking to give them more juice. I have no regrets doing it.”
The trouble was, Georgia’s black helmets didn’t have the same success as Tennessee’s black jerseys. “Oh, it hyped us up at the beginning,” Georgia safety Reshad Jones told the Atlanta newspaper, “but it’s not the black helmets, it’s what’s behind the black helmets – it’s the players.
Georgia, now 4-4, will be going back to red helmets against Tennessee Tech (5-3) this week in Athens (1 p.m.), while Tennessee, also 4-4, will be going back to orange jerseys when the Vols host Memphis (2-6) in Knoxville at 7 p.m.
As for me, I’ll continue to avoid wearing black, but, honestly, I can no more tell you why I carefully avoid it any more than I can tell you why I despise chicken-pot pie, will not eat tomato soup, or drink a Pepsi Cola. I’ve just got some crazy idiosyncrasies or something.