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October 20, 2011When players sign with LSU to play football they know they're going to play for one of the nation's elite programs filled with rich traditions.
Among those time honored practices has been the way the Tigers look week in and week out.
Not only has LSU been the Southeastern Conference's most successful program over the past decade, complete with two BCS national championships, but the Tigers have never deviated from their standard uniform fare of canary gold helmets and pants to go along with either a white or purple jersey with purple and gold shoulder stripes.
"Most high school kids like to see a different uniform every week," LSU sophomore defensive end Barkevious Mingo said. "It all goes back to what do you want to do when you get there? Do you want to go to school that's winning championships or go to a school that's wearing different jerseys every week? I'm proud of my choice. I'm glad I came here."
For the second time in three seasons LSU will unveil something other than their staple uniforms for Saturday's home game with Auburn when the top-ranked Tigers (7-0) will be decked out in Nike Pro Combat gear.
The changes, albeit noticeable over the standard garb, are relatively subtle and maintain the school's traditional colors and standard helmet logo.
"I can tell you that our uniform will represent LSU and look very much like a uniform an LSU football team will wear," LSU football coach Les Miles said. "It will be a little sleeker in design. The colors will be historic in base. I think you will like the uniform. I think our guys will enjoy the uniform and that it is the right uniform for an LSU team to wear."
The consensus among LSU's players is that the uniform combination, which is built to be lighter to achieve maximum performance, has been well received.
"They're different," LSU junior wide receiver Russell Shepard said. "It's going to be different when you're not wearing that traditional purple and gold. We look at it as an accomplishment. We worked our butt off to get notoriety from Nike. The top teams wear these type of style uniforms. We're going to have fun and look good."
LSU is one of nine Nike-outfitted teams that will wear a version of the Oregon-based apparel giant's one-time uniform.
LSU witnessed Nike's biggest benefactor - Oregon - break out a brash combination of black, gray, green and fluorescent colors in the season opener which the Tigers won, 40-27.
Georgia completely changed its look the same week in a neutral site loss to Boise State with an all-red uniform with silver helmets while Michigan State faced Michigan last week in a game neither team truly represented its traditional look.
Ohio State is set to debut a similar uniform Oct. 29 against Wisconsin, while Stanford will follow suit against Notre Dame on Nov. 26 adn wear black helmets and all-red uniforms with Army and Navy altering their looks on Dec. 10.
"I have a difficult time with a great, historic uniform that has been changed such that you cannot recall the uniform or the team that it represents," Miles said. "That is a step too far for me. I like to see LSU dressed like LSU is supposed to dress."
LSU first went the Nike Pro Combat route in a regular-season finale with Arkansas with a metallic, old-gold helmet and all-white uniform with shoulder stripes and trim on the pants.
This year's version is modified somewhat with a white helmet with feint tiger stripes embedded all around. The uniforms will also be white with purple and gold shoulder stripes with solid white pants.
LSU will also wear a predominately white cleat with a gold exterior around the sole and a purple swoosh across it. Arguably the player's favorite part of the new look will be the gloves that feature black tiger stripes on the inside with the eye of the tiger on the palms.
"It feels good, all the guys like the uniform and want to go out and play well," LSU junior cornerback Morris Claiborne said. "I like the helmet with the tiger stripes on it and I love the gloves. We're throwing a little spice in it but it's still somewhat traditional.
"That means a lot to the people here," Claiborne said. "They love purple and gold and they love LSU. It's not hard to spot an LSU team from far. I don't think we're taking that away from the uniform. You're still going to know who we are."
Photo Feature: 2011 LSU Nike Pro Combat Uniforms