The Florida Gators, you may have heard, are switching from the Nike swoosh to the Jordan Brand Jumpman for the 2018-19 athletic season.
Finally, on Tuesday, to coincide with the appearances of Dan Mullen and three Florida players at SEC Media Days, they unveiled the uniforms and many of the other pieces of apparel that will be part of the new Jordan Brand line.
Florida’s uniforms look only minimally different from recent years’ outfits, with the only visible difference to my eye being the use of the Jumpman logo where swooshes used to be. That was to be expected: The last major change to the Gators’ usual jerseys and pants coming in 2013, when the numbers were tweaked to a slightly bulkier font, largely to make them easier to read on television, and Florida’s atrocious “swamp green” alternates from 2017 were divisive enough to not be a model for future uniforms.
While orange uniforms have only recently returned to the rotation for the Gators, they’ve been worn often enough in the 2010s to be a significant part of any presentation in 2018.
Fitting for a swap to Jordan Brand, Florida also debuted new cleats — which look clean to me — at the event.
(Conspicuously absent from the reveal? Any sign of Florida’s new white helmets, debuted in 2015 and worn infrequently during Jim McElwain’s tenure. It’s likely that Florida still has a white helmet option in the mix, but this event was clearly one more about the Gators’ primary colors, orange and blue.)
But while the uniforms were minimally changed, the event also came with a slew of debuts of other Florida-branded merchandise — some better than others.
That shirt is fine, and an attempt to sell the “Gators Standard” talking point Mullen has used since his arrival was inevitable. (It looks even better on athletes like Joe Haden and Brian Poole, as you might imagine.) The shorts are fine, too. And the above-pictured shoes, which appear to be based on Russell Westbrook’s “Why Not?” line, aren’t bad, even though the Gator Head looks out of place.
But those are the better of the two Jordan trainers coming this year, it would seem, given what appears to be a bulky Velcro-based strap on the other ones pictured here:
Here are the Jordan shoes that’ll be available late July to buy pic.twitter.com/oCOLJneORX— David Waters - Gators Breakdown (@GatorDave_SEC) July 17, 2018
And while the Gators-splashed retros of the original Air Jordans can look exactly as good (or bad) as the originals did...
New team issued kicks (thread) pic.twitter.com/cGXamnoOgy— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) July 17, 2018
Gators Jordan Shoe Line-Up pic.twitter.com/skIWI5zoka— Frankie Hammond Jr (@FHammond85) July 17, 2018
...those shoes are, as expected, going to be almost exclusively issued to the players, which is a huge recruiting asset for Florida the program, but a bit of a bummer for any Florida fan hoping to throw on orange-and-blue Js soon. You can buy plenty of Florida x Jordan Brand stuff as of today, but there’s no must-cop piece of apparel — yet.
I do think we’re liable to get some new Florida Jordans before long, and I don’t think anything is getting meaningfully aesthetically worse by swapping from Nike to Jordan. (Nike, too, has churned out some clunker trainers.)
But I’m also not a hypebeast on par with some of the 17-year-olds Florida will attempt to get to play football in Gainesville — and, ultimately, it will be their thoughts on these new shoes (and shirts, and so on) that matter most.