It’s what’s not on the back of the jersey that doesn’t count.

An astute reader sent me an email last week noting the absence of #27 jerseys on the official Georgia website and wondered if the school made a deliberate choice to do so in the wake of O’Bannon.  Good question, and one that prompted a little digging on my part.

I can’t say for sure if that’s motivated Georgia, but it looks like other schools have decided to do just that.

The Nebraska athletic department is joining lots of other schools in limiting the numbers on the jerseys fans can buy. For this year, only No. 1 and No. 15 — as in 2015 — will be sold at the Huskers Authentic team store. Next year, it’ll be 1 and 16.

Licensees selling jerseys are limited to the same numbers, and nobody gets a grandfather clause.

And the change isn’t just for football, but for all sports that have jersey replicas for sale.

The new policy was announced in the last paragraph of a news release for Football Fan Day, which this year takes place on Aug. 5.

The rationale?

“Basically, we do not want to attribute any number to any specific student-athlete,” said David Witty, senior associate athletic director for marketing and communications.

The University of Miami announced a similar policy two weeks ago.

And Witty, interviewed by phone, said it was apparent from Big Ten Media Days in Chicago that other Big Ten teams are doing the same thing.

“It’s pretty consistent,” he said. “This is becoming the norm.”

I’ll say this – it certainly lowers the hypocrisy level, which is a refreshing change.  Though I’ll be interested to see what happens to sales when fans can’t buy jerseys with their favorite players’ numbers on them.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

20 responses to “It’s what’s not on the back of the jersey that doesn’t count.

  1. Sony Michel and D’Andre Walker would like a word with McGarity about using their numbers on the jerseys sold at the bookstore.


    • 3rdandGrantham

      Heck, its probably akin to the well known S.I. jinx, in which the UGA AD is just praying that they don’t have a good year; otherwise they’ll once again look hypocritical come October.


      • 3&G, my kids will see the #1 jersey and immediately think Sony Michel. They’ll also say, “Who’s #15? Why would I want that jersey?” I’ll explain it to them and they’ll likely say, “That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.”


  2. Bob Z

    I would like to pre-order my 2027 jersey please.


  3. Cosmic Dawg

    The ball of yarn grows bigger – fans can’t get the jersey they want, the player can’t make royalties off the sale, the bookstore can’t make money on the jersey – a lose-lose-lose for everyone in college sports.

    But they have kept the sanctity of the NFL’s free farm system intact – why they’re so happy to exhaust themselves to protect somebody else’s rotten business model is beyond me. If all the university presidents (1) pestered their congressmen to change the NFL’s anti-trust exemption and (2) demanded the NCAA allow student athletes to work jobs and profit off their signatures and likenesses to the degree the market wanted them would this circus not quickly go away?


  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    Oh drat, there goes the reserve fund.


  5. Cousin Eddie

    Why not sell retired jersey numbers also? No current SA would have those numbers on their jersey? Or is that part of the O’Bannon ruling/pending outcome also?


  6. Sanford222view

    I know my kids are going to be pissed they can’ get a 27 jersey. Well, at least it will likely save me some cash!


    • Macallanlover

      And that is all that matters to me, jersey’s are for those 12 and under. Sell the jerseys with no numbers/names and let a third party sell any numerals you want, have someone stitch them on. Now this will kill the Great Lake and PAC12 conference who like to dress like NFL fans anyway.


      • JCDAWG83

        Agree with you on jerseys and who should wear them. If your age includes the term “teen” or higher, you should not be wearing a jersey to a game unless you are the parent or sibling of a particular player.


        • Macallanlover

          As if I didn’t hate the “jump around” enough, they all do it while wearing jerseys like they are Falcons, Eagles, or Jets fans. Pretty nice folks in the Midwest but they dress as tacky as northeasterners.


  7. SemperFiDawg

    I predict that as soon as sales drop the hypocrisy level bounces back to pre O’Bannon levels. The NCAA is a depraved institution. The O’Bannon case aired only some of stench. but the carcass is still rotten and to think O’Bannon had enough of an effect to change a tiger’s stripes is wishful thinking.


  8. 69Dawg

    As the head writer of trite cliches this feels like “Cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Why not embrace the damn thing and offer jerseys with an add the number of your choice option.


  9. Debby Balcer

    People will just buy the numbers and have stores sew them on like they do for a letter jacket.


  10. I know I’m in the minority on this issue, but the jersey design and the numbers belong to the University of Georgia not to the player. Yes, a jersey with the #27 on it without a name will sell more this year (and next) than a jersey with the #3 on it (unless Roquan blows it up). The player is granted the privilege to wear the jersey issued by the university. In this case, I do believe a university has the right to sell as many of a jersey with a particular number on it as they want and the player doesn’t have a claim to the revenues because all of the trademarks belong to the university.

    This nuance is different than the EA Sports games with the likeness, the measurables, and the information about the players. #3 for UGA just happens to have dreads and is from Tarboro, NC. What a coincidence!

    I’m not an attorney, but this just seems to make common sense to me.


  11. darin smith

    I run a sporting goods store. We have known about this for a few months. The way to get a 27 is to go to the UGA bookstore. They can make any number you want. The nonspecific numbered jerseys are for commercial sales.


  12. Governor Milledge

    You can also find player-specific jerseys, with names even sewn on, on certain popular internet commerce sites. The price I paid for a Nike-labelled , #27 Chubb black jersey for my lovely fiance is equivalent to a generic iron on jersey at the bookstore’s website