Photo courtesy of Karl Moore GTAA

Nearly a year after the Georgia Tech Athletic Association finalized a deal with Adidas, making the latter the official apparel provider for Tech sports, the football team’s jerseys have officially been unveiled to the public.

The debut took place on Aug. 3 in the rooftop lounge at the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Downtown, where invited fans mingled with Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury, head men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner and a slew of football alumni, including former Tech running back and current ESPN sideline reporter Roddy Jones. Professional wrestler and former Tech defensive lineman Leati Anoa’i, also known as Roman Reigns, modeled the team’s new look.

While the event was sparsely advertised, the reception has been largely positive. Surveys among high school football recruits named Russell Athletic as the least desirable outfitter, while Adidas placed second on that list. Likewise, Adidas ranked third in a 2018 survey of American consumers’ go-to apparel brands, among the favorite brands for 42.14 percent of respondents. That number bodes well for the Tech bookstore as well; offerings under the Russell contract included clothing from Under Armour, Nike and a litany of others. In combination with the athletic department’s April decision to select a single shade of gold as its standard, the Adidas contract will likely provide greater consistency.

The uniform itself is not a marked step away from traditional Tech uniforms, perhaps a relief to some. Adidas, after all, has demonstrated no hesitation in changing the jerseys of historic programs, often to much-panned results. In 2012, Michigan football’s classic maize-and-blue jerseys saw the addition of curved stripes above the nameplate and the replacement of side numbers with the signature M. A year later, the Wolverines left for Nike. Before their departure to Under Armour, Notre Dame was similarly plagued by garish designs; they wore canary-yellow pants for their rivalry game against USC in 2007 and two-toned helmets against Miami in 2012, both far departures from their traditional navy-and-gold outfits.

But Tech’s uniforms remain highly recognizable. On the home jerseys, dark blue numbering has been replaced by a gold pattern, one that Adidas says is modeled after the body pattern of actual yellow jackets. Save for stingers at the neck and shoulder levels, the uniform is remarkably clean. On the whiteout jerseys, which will also be used for road games, the traditional dark blue numbering returns with gold trim. Adidas will also present an alternate jersey, to debut either later this year or next, per The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. That may be a navy-colored jersey, one offered by Russell but not yet by Adidas.

Athletic director Todd Stansbury’s tenure is young yet, but the Adidas contract has been his best chance at a tenure-defining moment so far. While it is not an on-field decision like hiring a new coach or adding recruiting staff, Stansbury spoke of Tech athletics’ brand image as a key point of concern at the time of his hire, and a new apparel partner is a significant step in that regard.

The contract is not particularly rich as Power Five athletic deals go, but for a football program that has not found itself ranked in the top 25 in the last two years and a basketball program that has a long way to go till it achieves national relevance, that was to be expected. The Jackets will not capture the interest of Nike, Under Armour or Adidas the way a national championship contender like Alabama or Clemson would.

What the new apparel deal has the potential to provide, though, is immeasurable — an increase in brand value among fans and recruits.

The early returns on that front look good for Tech. Before the first kickoff or tip-off, the athletics department seems to have scored a victory.