Monday, October 3, 2016

The Vest in the Business

Gus Malzahn took over the head coaching job at Auburn in 2013. Not long after he started his head coaching tenure on the Plains, Malzahn established his own coaching wardrobe. The sixth game of the 2013 season, the homecoming game, was the first time Gus broke out his now infamous sweater vest. The BCS National Championship Game that year set the Auburn world on fire when Malzahn emerged from the tunnel wearing a Mike Ditka inspired vest. Sweater vest sales in and around Auburn soon skyrocketed and Under Armour even released a similarly styled vest for Gus to wear the following season.
Gus Malzahn sweater vest visor hat

Each season since, Under Armour has designed and sold sweater vests specifically for Auburn and Gus Malzahn. As far as I know, they've sold rather well, seeing as many fans are wearing them on game days and every retail store has a ton in stock.

The first set of vests Gus wore were simply designed. He wore a navy blue vest for most of the second half of the season, switching to an orange vest for the game at Arkansas. The Iron Bowl that season saw Malzahn wear a unique grey vest, featuring a texture prominent with the color. For the SEC Championship game, Gus sported a different blue vest, with a few vertical stripes across the front. Then, as mentioned, the Ditka-styled design appeared in Pasadena, and has never been seen since.

The 2014 season comes around, and the Auburn sweater vest market is bigger than it has ever been before. Under Armour produced a new vest design, similar to that of the Ditka shirt. Under Armour has truly loved Auburn's Northwestern stripes for years now, so they took that design motif and placed it on the vests. Even looking similar to the Ditka shirt, the colored background behind "Auburn" wasn't nearly as good a look. Malzahn wore both the orange and blue versions a few times that season, but chose to stick with his normal blue vest for a few of the other games. He did break out the 2013 grey Iron Bowl vest for the Alabama game.

Gus Malzahn sweater vest
Malzahn sported the Ditka-like vest design all throughout the 2014-15 season
 (Photo via Shanna Lockwood / USAToday Sports)
Besides the new vests, this season marked the first time that Malzahn would change things up by wearing a vest over a short sleeve shirt, or accenting the look with various patches and pins. The first two games against Kansas State and Louisiana Tech, as well as the bowl game versus Wisconsin, saw Gus wearing the short sleeves. Gus also wore a Coaches to Cure MD patch against LSU, a National College Football Day (whatever that is) pin against Ole Miss, and the Auburn Military Appreciation patch versus Texas A&M.

The 2015 sweater vest once again featured the Northwestern stripes, this time vertically along the side of the torso. Still an awkward design overall, but a more sound design. Gus wound up wearing all three versions throughout the year, again mixing in the short sleeves with the long, and also adding in blue shirts underneath the vests. For the opening game in Atlanta, Gus sported the same Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game patch that the team wore. Just like the previous year, Malzahn wore the Military Appreciation patch, this time against Idaho. In honor of former SEC commissioner Mike Slive, the conference teams wore special Mike Slive - Prostrate Cancer Awareness ribbons on the back of the helmets. Gus also sported the patch for the game against Mississippi State.

Gus Malzahn's 2016 "vest" features a vertical Northwestern stripe on the back of the shirt
 (Photo via Shanna Lockwood / USAToday Sports)
The 2016 season has been hot to say the least. Gus hasn't broken out the traditional sweater vests this year, rather going with a sleeveless quarter-zip jacket. The one design quirk with this vest is the Northwestern stripe stamp on the back of the shirt. Through the first five games of the season, Malzahn has only sported the white and orange vest jackets. The LSU game landed on the national Coaches to Cure MD weekend, so Gus sported the patch once again.

The Vanderbilt game this season is slated to be the Military Appreciation game, so I expect Malzahn to wear the patch for the third straight season. There's still a possibility that we'll see more patches.

Gus Malzahn hat visor
Gus Malzahn broke out a cap rather than a visor for the 2016 game against LSU (photo via Bill Wilson / Anniston Star)
The 2016 season has also seen a massive Gus Malzahn fashion change. Gone (supposedly) are the traditional visors that Malzahn has worn since he has been coaching. After reportedly having a bald spot pointed out by his daughters, Gus has switched to a full cap. He says he plans to wear it for now on, but I personally don't think it will last. I was shocked to see the cap sitting in his locker on Friday, and on Gus's head come Saturday.

Fun fact - prior to the 2016 LSU game, Gus Malzahn had worn a visor for every game he has coached at Auburn, except one - the 2015 Kentucky game. Malzahn removed his normal visor in tribute of former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who had retired earlier that day. Malzahn credits Spurrier for the reason he wears a visor.

I've been tracking the Gus Malzahn sweater vest records since mid-2014 or so, but there's been requests for a visor, and now hats, for a while. So that's been started this week. You'll see the latest records for all three below.

Gus Malzahn sweater vest records

Gus Malzahn visor hat record

No comments:

Post a Comment