Paving the Way
At a time when society was conservative and moderate, Marquette University stood apart from the crowd and took chances. It all started in 1964 when Al McGuire was hired as Marquette’s head basketball coach.
McGuire was known for his quirky style and being comfortable in his own skin. When he first arrived on Marquette’s campus, the basketball team was not exactly championship material. His coaching style and his overall personality sparked a change in the mind’s of his players and in the community. McGuire wasn’t afraid to go out and recruit players that he saw potential in. He also wasn’t afraid to make Marquette stand out from other colleges.
With McGuire as coach, the basketball team was known for constantly changing the style of their uniforms. The typical basketball uniform at the time was either white with dark numbers or a solid dark color with white numbers. Some styles that Marquette introduced to the world were: off-centered jersey numbers, “bumble-bee” stripes, and arrow heads.
Players from other teams were starting to notice Marquette’s style and how interesting and different it was. The biggest game changer came from the player Bo Ellis. Bo and McGuire had a dynamic relationship. Bo told McGuire that his passion in life — besides basketball — was fashion design. Instead of brushing it off or questioning him about it, McGuire let Bo study fashion at another school so that he could pursue that as well. In addition to letting Bo take classes at a different school, he also let Bo design the basketball uniforms.
Bo designed the uniforms, but he also created an even larger image for his team. He had the idea to untuck his jersey from his shorts, allowing greater motion and freedom while playing. He got his whole team on board, and suddenly the “untucked” look became well-known and widespread.
Marquette’s team had quite the unique flare to it. Their choices of uniforms as well as players sparked interest in many potential recruits. This upset a lot of other schools. They were jealous of Marquette’s style because they knew that it attracted a lot of great players. Eventually, the business side of sports took over and banned “untucked” shirts from games. It became a rule that the jerseys must be tucked in while playing.
Al McGuire led Marquette to victory in 1977, when the basketball team won the national championship. His distinctive style and personality created a team that was unified through the freedom he allowed his players to express.