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"Boise State Rule" not adopted

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Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images
Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

The saga of whether or not to allow Boise State to wear all-blue uniforms on its home "Smurf Turf" field appears to have reached an end. The NCAA rules committee on March 6 denied a proposal that would require an institution’s jersey or pant color to be different from the field of play.

If Boise State’s all-blue home uniforms had literally been put through the wash as much as the NCAA and Mountain West Conference have figuratively done to them, their color wouldn’t be an issue. They would have faded to a light shade of aquamarine and shrunk to a size that only a peewee team could wear.

In 2011, the Mountain West Conference told Boise State it could no longer wear its all-blue uniform combination at home. This helped lead to the Broncos’ decision to leave the MWC for the Big East for football after the 2012 season. The Broncos backed out of its commitment to the Big East and returned to the Mountain West in late December, in part because the Mountain West agreed not to impose uniform restrictions.

All the back-and-forth almost didn't matter. In February, the NCAA rules committee proposed a rule change that would require teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field. Although this proposal was aimed at Boise State, many other teams would have been affected. Eastern Washington has an all-red field and red uniforms. Teams with green uniforms like Oregon, Marshall and Colorado State wouldn’t have been able to wear their all-green combination anywhere but Boise State or Eastern Washington (under the trite assertion that every field is always green).

Some have complained that the all-blue uniform combination gives Boise State an unfair advantage because the uniform blends in with the playing field. If this were the case, then Boise State’s passing game would be at a disadvantage because the quarterback would have trouble finding his receivers downfield. At field level the visual background is the sideline and endzone stands, not the field. If it were a distinct advantage to have a uniform blend in with the field, then all teams should paint their end zones in the primary team color and have their receivers try to hide there.

The only reasonable advantage teams with non-contrasting uniforms may have is the annoyance it causes coaches when looking at game film or watching from press level. Viewed from above, watching Boise State in its all-blue uniforms on blue turf is like watching blue Skittles spilled onto a swatch of blue rug.

With the NCAA’s recent decision not to impose the uniform rule, this issue can be put to bed for now. But face it, the NCAA could always use a little more color.