The Big Ten's newest member is getting the Pro Combat treatment. Despite the school's long association with the Under Armour company, the team will be getting its very own signature Nike uniform thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between the two sports apparel powerhouses. The design, which faithfully mimics the coloring and shell pattern of Malaclemys terrapin (better known as the Diamondback Terrapin), is described by its designers as "technologically innovative" and has been dubbed the Pro Combat "Testudo" edition.
Under Armour's chief for design (and heir to the Dessous-Armour fortune), Bernard-Henri Dessous-Armour, states that the joint effort is "the first to break away from the - comme on dit? - shackles of synthetic fabric, and to embrace the potential of animal materials for uniform design."
"Everyone is always talking about synthetics and how wonderful they are at wicking moisture away from the body," said Dessous-Armour, "but no one has noticed that there are wonderful animals all around us whose entire existence depends on their ability to handle wildly varying levels of moisture: turtles! Our scientists have managed to combine le DNA de tortue with that of the cotton plant, and arrived at a material that is easy to cut and completely waterproof. We call it MokTurtleShell™."
Under Armour designer Bernard-Henri Dessous-Armour in his studio
While the material was developed by Under Armour, Nike brought one of its most reclusive designers out of retirement to provide the look of the new design.
"I was happily chopping wood at my cabin in the mountains when Nike One [the company's helicopter] landed in my backyard," said designer emeritus Christopher Polyblend. "They told me they needed me back, but at first I refused. I had left football uniform design in the past. It seemed like a dead art form to me, frankly, and I had moved on to designing solely youth soccer jerseys and, of course, chopping wood at my idyllic mountain retreat."
"But then they told me it was for Maryland."
Nike designer Christopher Polyblend at his alpine retreat
According to Polyblend, creating a uniform for the university's football team is the dream of every eccentric sports uniform designer. "Maryland really got the ball rolling for people like myself with their batshit insane "State Pride" uniforms. I felt if I could return the favor by taking that school's design to even weirder and less functional places, that was my duty as a designer."
"Of course no one told me that I'd have to work with that madman Bernard."
The "state pride" uniforms that Polyblend claims inspired his work.
The tempestuous Greek expatriate Polyblend is reported to have clashed frequently with Dessous-Armour, chiefly about the choice of materials.
"That fool Bernard likes to brag that these uniforms will be the first to allow a team to play an entire game completely underwater, but I keep telling him that will never happen," said Polyblend. "Or he claims that the team will be equally comfortable in saltwater, freshwater or some kind of brackish tidal swamp, just like the terrapin. But, you know, what are the chances of that?"
Dessous-Armour for his part believes Polyblend is "closed minded" when it comes to materials. "Chris is just upset that we're not using one of his precious synthetic fabrics. I mean, look at his name. He can't be objective when it comes to textiles. If we hadn't embraced meddling with God's creation as we did in this uniform, we never would have arrived at the keratinous protective back plate that should prevent dozens of spleen injuries a year."
The uniform's back is composed of a patented bony substance that Under Armour claims will protect from injury.
"Well, first off, I'm not my name" responded Polyblend. "The fact that "polyblend" is both my surname and the word for the best, most technically advanced sports fabrics in existence is a complete coincidence.* And the real problem here is that any uniform that doesn't allow water in also doesn't let air in - or water, i.e. sweat, out. These players are going to be literally stewing in their own juices, like some kind of diabolical human-turtle stew."
*Editor's note: Polyblend explained that his family is descended from Polyblendous, a little-known cyclops referred to in some obscure versions of Homer's Odyssey.
For his part, Dessous-Armour writes off Polyblend's concerns as "technical details to be ironed out later." "We could easily build in some kind of release valve for built-up moisture, as well as a circulating freon system to control body temperature. But I'm telling you, when you are playing in a tidal estuary, overheating will be the least of your concerns. My fabric will keep the players warm, dry, and most importantly, camouflaged from herons, gulls and other predators. While the other team is succumbing to hypothermia or being torn apart by erns, Maryland will be comfortable and ready to play."
The Great Blue Heron, one of the predators the new uniform is designed to protect against.
"I really don't think he understands the sport," said Polyblend.
The Testudo uniforms will debut whenever Maryland plays a game "under the sea" according to Dessous-Armour. "I have heard tell of a Sea World Holiday Bowl*, which sounds like the perfect venue for these uniforms. Let's just hope the Terps make it there."
*Editor's note: The "Sea World" referred to here is to the marine mammal park located in San Diego, CA, and not an aquatic realm where football games are played; Furthermore, Sea World discontinued its sponsorship of the Holiday Bowl in 1990.