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Bob Devaney threw on his jacket and tie. Bear Bryant donned his houndstooth fedora.
And Bo Pelini? He has his sweatshirts. Gray. Red. Nebraska.
A tough and rugged look? Just what does Bo's late fall gear — sweatshirt and khakis — say about him and the Huskers?
Fans, fashionistas and casual observers have long been interested in the attire of football coaches who pace the sidelines.
In the 1960s and 1970s, legends such as Green Bay's Vince Lombardi and Kansas City's Hank Stram set the standard with ties and button-down shirts or sport jackets and slacks.
Devaney, as the era advised, was among the well-dressed leaders.
They were in charge, the professionals, the bosses.
As trucks of cash and corporate sponsorships started arriving, the sideline clothes of football coaches gradually got more sporty, or, some might say, more lame.
Think sweatshirts, sweatpants and baseball caps.
“I like the look of the late '60s, early '70s,” said Gary Novotny, owner of Gary Michael's Clothiers in Lincoln. “It just has the sense of professionalism.”
Not that Novotny disapproves of Bo's look.
Novotny, a '78 Husker grad, has had football season tickets since 1984 and praises the lineage of coaches not named Callahan since Devaney.
In 1993, Novotny partnered with a former Husker hoops coach and created the “Danny Nee Signature Tie Collection.” For $48.50, you, too, could have worn a Nee-like tie. Around Nebraska, Novotny sold about 2,000.
“The coaches have a very strong influence on society as far as fashionability,” Novotny said. “The general public wants what the coaches are wearing.”
Some research suggests it affects players, too.
Last year, sport scientists at an England university showed about 100 people photos of four types of coaches: lean build in a tracksuit, lean build in a suit, large build in a tracksuit and large build in a suit.
They picked the lean coach in a tracksuit as the best to build character and motivate players. They chose the lean, sharp-looking coach as the best strategist.
“Athletes are clearly influenced by clothing and physiques when rating their perceived competence of coaches,” University of Portsmouth professor Richard Thelwell said in an email. “The findings may suggest that coaches might wish to consider their choice of clothing depending on the context and type of competence that they wish to demonstrate.”
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