New Arizona State uniforms are generating the latest fashion buzz around college football, and understandably so. A copper accent is a slick addition to the Sun Devils’ black uniforms and white helmets, both of which were first introduced as alternates to the program’s traditional maroon and gold in 2011.
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Arizona State adding copper to its alternates could also be a very subtle jab at rival Arizona.
For those unfamiliar with the Duel in the Desert, that seem like quite a conclusion to jump to. But for someone who grew up exposed to the rivalry, which one of the most underrated and bitter in college football, it makes perfect sense.
Let’s back-track. In 2012, Arizona made a dramatic addition to its football wardrobe with the introduction of a copper helmet. Aside from a few years in the early years of University of Arizona athletics when teams wore silver and a light shade of green called sage, the Wildcats have always donned red, white and navy blue.
Where exactly does copper factor in?
Well, on the center of the state flag is a big, bold copper star.
The copper helmet was introduced not long after a campaign in which the University of Arizona splashed its logo on billboards at every major artery into the state:
Copper plays a similar role in athletic director Greg Byrne’s plan to promote UA as Arizona’s university because of its symbolize in state history. Every elementary school student in the state is taught about the Five Cs: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate.
The flag’s copper star is a nod to the rich mining history of Arizona in its territorial days, as the region was the nation’s top producer of the ore. Arizona athletics already staked claim to cactus; the university’s classic logo features a saguaro in place of the I.
Adding the copper helmet was another way in which the Wildcats tried to fly their flag most prominently over the Grand Canyon State, and Arizona made it abundantly clear last season when it wore the alternate lids for its matchups with in-state counterparts Northern Arizona and Arizona State.
Of course, copper mining isn’t the only noteworthy thing to come from Arizona’s territorial days in this football rivalry. Arizona and Arizona State have been playing each other since 1899, 13 years before Arizona was recognized as a state.
Thus, the trophy given to the winner of each season’s rivalry showdown is christened the Territorial Cup.
Arizona State has won both Territorial Cups awarded since current head coaches Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez arrived. The Sun Devils’ win streak in the series–which includes last year’s lopsided beatdown to seal home-field advantage in the Pac-12 Championship–is a reminder that Arizona football doesn’t run the state.
And these new Arizona State uniforms are, in their own way, a push back on the Wildcats’ claims to that end.