Today, Jack Swarbrick held a press conference to officially announced Under Armour as the new athletic apparel provider for all Notre Dame athletics. The entire presser is up at WatchND.tv and I highly suggest giving it a full watch.
Below, I’ve highlighted seven things that I took away from the event, the major bullet points that are sticking with me since the event ended.
1. Notre Dame Is Back on Top
Unsurprisingly, the ten year deal is the largest in college athletics. So if you ever felt a bit jaded by the Adidas/Michigan deal, here is your revenge.
Further, Notre Dame gets a portion of Under Armour’s stock in the deal. This is the kind of outside the box thinking that we expect from Notre Dame and Jack Swarbrick delivered. This deal has incredible potential to be even bigger than it already is.
2. The Focus Is on Technology, Not Aesthetics
Throughout the press conference, both Swarbrick and Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank, repeatedly said things like “less is more” and that they aren’t looking to change Notre Dame’s traditional look.
What they did focus on was enhancing the technology of all the athletic gear. The look may stay the same, but Notre Dame will be getting the absolute best technology that Under Armour can offer.
Swarbrick even went as far as saying Notre Dame would be Under Armour’s lab. Think about what Nike does for Oregon sans the crazy colors/unis and that is more or less what we are going to be doing.
That’s huge not just for our current athletes, but a great recruiting tool. Think about it, go into a conversation with a recruit that hates Under Armour gear because it’s bad and you can pitch to him/her: “You hate it? Well only at Notre Dame will you get a chance to change it.”
3. Notre Dame Wants a Consistent Look
Swarbrick mentioned schools like Texas and Auburn who have all their athletic teams in a consistent, recognizable look.
To me, this is incredibly huge and needed. All of our sports have a mashup of different, unique looks with only the blue/gold (and sometimes green) being the only thing that really ties it together.
With as much tradition as Notre Dame boasts, there is no reason why all our sports have to look so different. You should be able to look at our teams and say without a shadow of a doubt: “That’s ND.”
I’m sure there will still be some alternates sprinkled in on rare occasions, but I get the feeling the days of Adidas playing mad design scientist with our other sports is done and that will be a very welcome change.
4. We Helped the ND Sports Blogger Interrogate Jack
5. There Are No Stadium Ads Associated with the Deal
This isn’t an assumption, a guess, or hopeful thinking. Swarbrick specifically stated that his stance on advertising signage in the stadium and other athletic arenas has not changed with this deal.
There will be no new Under Armour ads coming into the stadium. Period.
6. Plank Is Over the Moon
He may be a Maryland alumnus, but he grew up a fan of the Fighting Irish. He even mentioned that he was “waiting for a phone call” that never came.
There have been a some concerns that his Maryland ties would eventually trump whatever ND put together. Plank put all those concerns aside, saying that he wanted to ensure that Notre Dame gets “an unfair advantage” in comparison to all other Under Armour schools.
This is a dream come true for Plank and he is going to do everything in his power to hold up his end of this monumental deal.
7. This Partnership Is Perfect for Notre Dame
The advantages of moving from Adidas to this Under Armour deal are rather obvious. The Irish would always be second fiddle thanks to the Michigan clause. The advantages of this deal over signing with Nike though are not as obvious.
Perhaps the biggest complaint that I’ve heard is that Under Armour gear is inferior to Nike, especially when it comes to things like shoes. This then leads to the argument that Notre Dame should strive for nothing but the best and settled for inferior gear for a cash grab.
Before this presser, I’d say that would be a legitimate concern. Afterwards, it’s clear that it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sure, Nike is currently superior. Keyword: currently.
When Plank talked about the dedication to technology and research, he wasn’t just referencing a need to catch up to Nike, he’s talking about surpassing them. Notre Dame is going to be the proving ground for the new tech and when it works, the Notre Dame brand will promote that gear far better than any other program in the country, including Uncle Phil’s dear Oregon.
And Under Armour isn’t just investing in us, Notre Dame is investing in them. The stock options that Notre Dame receives isn’t just an additional cash grab, it’s an additional commitment from Notre Dame’s side. If Under Armour succeeds, Notre Dame succeeds. The two are linked.
That’s a true partnership and it’s not something that we would’ve gotten with Nike.
Personally, I am more excited for the chance to work with the next big thing than hoping on the same bandwagon that everyone else is. Further, I feel that is more in line with the spirit of Notre Dame as well. Forget what is out there now, but think about what could be out there in the future.
And that future starts July 1. Get excited.