cats cats cats cats *banging table* CATS CATS CATS CATS
Welcome back to Concepts Corner, where we where we redesign the uniforms of college football’s least-fashionable teams.
Kansas State is in a transition period. After several decades under the tutelage of Bill Snyder, KSU is coming off a successful first season under former North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman. And from the first moment Klieman stepped foot on Kansas State’s campus, he made a promise: that the Wildcats would get new uniforms.
It’s been a long time coming for Kansas State, so much so that almost any variation will elicit a massive response from the Wildcat faithful. So what should that variation be? Let’s SWOT it out.
For one, Kansas State has some wonderful brand basics. Only 7 FBS teams wore a purple uniform part in 2019, and only Kansas State, ECU, TCU, Washington, and Northwestern would consider purple to be their primary color. That gives Kansas State a unique niche in the uniforms sphere as the only Purple-and-Silver team in college football’s top division.
You also can’t overlook the Power Cat logo in terms of cultural significance. While many college football teams see their logos repurposed by high schools (Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas chief among them), Kansas State’s Power Cat logo is easily one of the most stolen.
Why? Because it kicks ass.
Simple yet distinctive, the Power Cat is arguably one of the best primary logos in all of American sports. It has to take a starring role in this set.
Kansas State is seen as an insanely old-school brand by many of college football’s biggest fans. Not changing your uniforms for several decades will do that.
KSU’s style of play doesn’t help them, however. The Wildcats roll out a beefy style that utilizes fullbacks and running quarterbacks to mash tired defenses. When your style of play makes sense in the 1940s, people are going to have some… outdated opinions about your brand. This new set should perhaps not shy away from K-State’s classic style, but it definitely should use some modern uniform design language.
While KSU’s style of play has a caveman aesthetic, it works. In his first full season, Klieman took the Wildcats to a 8-5 record and a monumental upset over Oklahoma. That’s pretty good!
When you’re good, it’s easier to take risks. And if K-State finds consistent success under Klieman, then it stands to reason a more unique look could be quickly normalized.
The Big XII is full of teams that use interesting uniforms. Of the league’s 10 teams, 7 mix and match a variety of uniform parts. In fact, with this Kansas State refresh, only Texas would be left as a team that sticks solely by the book.
This is makes for a pretty crowded uniform sphere. So this K-State look needs to maximize the Kansas State-ness so it doesn’t get lost in the soup.
This is, functionally, a very good uniform set.
A lot of people don’t know that this Kansas State template is literally just a purple Dallas Cowboys uniform. And here’s the thing: the Cowboys have great uniforms!
Silver helmets and pants have been a K-State staple for decades, but they were replaced with white uniform parts in select games this season. The bowl helmets in particular were intriguing, as they featured a winning combo: a Power Cat logo, grey facemasks, and a single helmet stripe.
Are these uniforms exciting? Outside of All-White, not really. But with the right tweaks, I think Kansas State can get to the next level.
Let me introduce you to one of K-State’s old mascot logos. I’ll call him Willie, after the current Kansas State mascot.
Willie is a lovely chap. He loves Frank Sinatra, long walks on the plains, and rooting on his beloved Kansas State athletic teams. And he never attends a varsity football matchup without his beloved pennant, which reps the nation’s only purple “State” team.
I was struck by the design of this pennant. And if you’ve seen any streetwear from the last 5 years, you know that big, wavy text is in style. That presents a nice middle section in the Venn Diagram between Kansas State’s past and the present 2020 fashion moment.
The resulting design is bold and fun, striking a rare middle ground that both fans and players will love.
Purple helmets and pants come into the fold, giving KSU the option of going All-Purple at home and Purple/White/Purple on the road. That leaves K-State with 6 combinations that match helmet and pants colors, which is more than enough to play with.
Ideally, you’d get Silver/Purple/Silver for the home opener and homecoming. Combos like All-Purple and White/Purple/White could be special themed looks for a “Purple-Out” or “Stripe the Stadium” approach. All-White could be worn at home or on the road.
I would die for Vintage Willie.