November 4, 2012 1:13:43 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- It turns out good guys can wear a black hat, too.
The Texas A&M University football program wasn't about to allow Mississippi State University to have all the fan Saturday with its attire. For the first time in more than 80 years, Texas A&M went with black jerseys to counter MSU's primarily white uniforms.
The Texas A&M staff didn't inform its players about the jerseys until they got off the bus at Davis Wade Stadium. For an early morning kickoff in a game Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin knew he'd need his squad to start quickly, the non-traditional look motivated the 16th-ranked Aggies.
"I didn't want to get too caught out of my mind-set, but when they first brought the uniforms in there I was screaming and yelling like we had just won a game," Texas A&M junior defensive end Damontre Moore said.
Designed by adidas, the uniform is a mirror image of the Aggies' usual uniform except that black is the primary color and that it has maroon trim. The helmet design was a collaborative effort between Riddell and Hydro Graphics Inc., and fades from black to maroon. The lone star logo
design on the helmet is a fusion of the school's traditional "TAM" mark within the state of Texas outline, which was unveiled as a part of the base adidas uniform in July.
"There were rumors we would have the all-black uniforms at the beginning of the season, so when we didn't get them we were disappointed," Moore said. "When they brought these out they caught us off guard. It was an exciting and overwhelming experience."
In its first game against Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference, MSU was celebrating its victory against Texas A&M in the 2000 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Hours before that game, a snowstorm blew through the area and left the field covered in white.
"With Mississippi State receiving a special exemption to wear white uniforms at home, we were approached by adidas with an opportunity to do something very exciting and distinctive without straying too far away from our traditional look," Sumlin said. "I know the players are pumped and ready for this big game, and I think the recruits will like the new look."
Bowl committees and NFL scouts witness A&M victory
It wasn't the image No. 17 MSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) wanted to show in front of six NFL teams and four bowl committees.
Scouting personnel from the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers were at Davis Wade Stadium to watch Texas A&M's 38-13 victory.
MSU has at least four potential senior prospects -- Johnthan Banks, Cam Lawrence, Darius Slay, and Josh Boyd -- on a defense that allowed 693 yards of offense. The total was the most they've surrendered in their college careers.
Bowl committees from the Cotton Bowl, Outback Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, and Liberty Bowl also watched Texas A&M take third place in the SEC's Western Division.
The game was one of a handful games this week that showcased two ranked teams in the three major polls. According to several projections, the game was a battle for a possible Cotton Bowl matchup on Jan. 4 at Cowboys Stadium. The loss may have dropped MSU out of contention for a spot in one of the New Year's Day bowl matchups.
James suspended for violation of team rules
MSU freshman defensive tackle Nick James didn't dress for the game due to what MSU officials classified as a violation of team rules.
MSU football spokesperson Joe Galbraith declined to go into detail about James' violation. It was the third game the Long Beach native didn't see action in.
James, who was a four-star recruit by most of the recruiting services, has six tackles in six games, and has worked mostly with the third-team defensive line and classmate Quay Evans.
Last week, James had a tackle against No. 1 University of Alabama but was used as a gap filler in short-yardage and third-down situations.