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Closer look: FSU’s change to white numerals on garnet jerseys

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Florida State fans knew white numerals would return on garnet jerseys for the 2020 football season, an announcement that was made last August.

But that didn’t mean it was an easy process. Or one that was complete last summer.

The conversation kicked into gear in May 2019 with a collaborative effort between FSU athletics and boosters administrators, Nike representatives, licensing officials and Willie Taggart’s staff. The feeling was unanimous: the classic jersey look needed to return.

“What do we need to do to make this happen?” recalled Jim Curry, FSU’s senior associate athletics director.

It wasn’t as simple as ripping off the old gold numerals and stitching on white ones. The process takes time in large part because of the lead time necessary for retail partners. Retailers like Fanatics.com or Garnet & Gold often look through catalogs a year early, selecting what merchandise to carry in their stores or sell via websites.

This is one reason that Curry says FSU needed “tremendous lead times to get this done.”

“We had to be mindful of our retail partners,” Curry said.

One significant component was ensuring that FSU kept its “brand guidelines and athletic font system,” said FSU director of trademark licensing Katie Pugh.

“The Unconquered font system follows a certain pattern when it comes to coloring of the lettering and numbers,” Pugh said. “We knew that with a change to the numbers on the football jerseys, we also needed to take into consideration other potential effects and if other jerseys needed to be changed as well.”

And then last week, the jerseys arrive at the Moore Athletic Center. Within a few days, FSU’s digital media team produced a short, unboxing video that hit Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with hundreds of thousands of views – almost all of them approving the long-awaited but familiar look.

“So many people were involved in making it happen,” Curry said. “You want to be able to tell the story yourself. We were all excited to tell the story.”

FSU fans were excited. FSU coaches and administrators were excited. And Mike Norvell, who grew up with a 1993 national championship license plate on his wall, is thrilled to see the return of FSU’s jersey design that was a big part of the dynasty years under coach Bobby Bowden.

“I am incredibly excited to be returning to our traditional white numbers on the garnet jersey,” Norvell said. “This classic look has inspired generations of players, coaches and fans, and we are looking forward to reintroducing it on the field this fall.”

Now for the big question: When can fans get their hands on the new jerseys? The plan was to have shipments arrive in July, but that will likely be pushed back due to distribution challenges related to COVID-19. Realistically, expect arrivals later in July or August – in time for the scheduled start of football season.

One misconception is that the jersey change was done for financial reasons. Curry and Pugh said sales of those garnet jerseys-gold numerals were very good and revenue growth with the move to the garnet jersey-white numeral design was not a consideration.

“Our jersey sales have always been strong when you look at jersey sales in the collegiate market,” Pugh said.

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