Baylor's transition from college football laughingstock to powerhouse has been as swift as it is impressive. Suddenly, the Bears have built a solid program that became even more successful after its Heisman-winning quarterback left for the NFL.

The Bears used that momentum to build a brand-new college football stadium seen as maybe the most technologically advanced in the country. And now Baylor is now trying to win another all-important battle: it's taking on Oregon and other schools in the race to own the most exciting jerseys.

To that end, Baylor made new additions to its jerseys options this summer that create a number of new combinations the team can use on game day. The team's equipment manager, Jeff Barlow, explains in a YouTube video that the Bears now have 120 different uniform combinations that feature six helmet options, four jerseys and five different sets of pants.

If the team uses a different combo every week, it's currently set to debut an original combo every game for the next 10 years.

"You'll never see that. I don't think you will. But yeah, that's a lot,” Barlow says. "Really it's all about recruiting ... that's just part of the program -- the uniforms, the fast offense, just the relentlessness of how we play fast, physical, fearless."

Recruiting is right. Oregon used its relationship with Nike to gain the attention of recruits in faraway parts of the country. Former Oregon Duck and one-time Heisman candidate LaMichael James once said that, as a high school star in Texas, he only knew one thing about the Ducks' football programs.

Yes: It was the jerseys.

To give you a sense of how the mixing and matching can be done, here's a look at quarterback Marcus Mariota's uniform in each game of the 2013 season for Oregon:

Baylor is hoping that similar attractions can persuade blue-chips to move to Waco, Texas. It's not the Garden of Eden, but the Bears have got a lot of shiny sweeteners for anyone who wants to play football.

They've even got a winning program, too. But as Baylor and Oregon will tell you, winning isn't all that matters to recruits.

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Kevin Durant's new deal with Nike last summer has culminated in a new basketball shoe set for release this summer.

The Oklahoma City Thunder star's KD8 is being touted as perhaps the most technologically advanced shoe ever made, and Nike is branding the KD8 as the game-changing shoe that will lead Durant back to greatness after a season plagued by injury.

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Nike has designed the shoe to feature an upper section made by its patented Flyweave, which weaves materials together into a precise knit inspired by the fabrics and materials used for space travel. Flyweave has been used by Nike in several of its shoes dating back to Kobe Bryant's footwear line in 2013.

Durant's shoe will also feature Zoom Air cushioning that uses strategically placed pockets of cushioning to provide ideal support for Durant's foot. Given the Thunder star's foot troubles, the cushioning and support is a clear emphasis for his shoe.

Durant's shoe is personalized with images recalling a sabertooth tiger, including a fang image added to the back of the heel. Durant has embraced the sabertooth tiger as an animal he tries to emulate on the court -- he even has a sabertooth tattoo on his right leg. His shoes will now be an extension of that mindset.

The KD8 is going to retail for $225, and it's available in stores starting today. Nike will also release a limited edition Fourth of July version of the shoe, which is predominantly blue instead of red. But the real measure of the KD8's success will be how Durant's shoe sales compare to other basketball players. After missing most of the past NBA season, he doesn't carry nearly as much momentum into the offseason.

There can be a steep learning curve for NFL rookies. Not only is there the pressure of trying to prove yourself to new coaches and teammates, there are added difficulties associated with learning the playbook, moving to a new city and managing finances.

Beyond all of those things, there's also the small but significant issue of learning to tie a tie.

For some guys, that's a skill they already have. For others, like many members of the Detroit Lions' rookie class, there's a learning curve.

Here's a video the team posted to Vine:

The voice you hear belongs to Ray Hines, a fashion consultant at Paul Cicchini Custom Clothier. The Lions bring Hines in to speak during their Rookie Training Week, a precursor to the NFL-sponsored Rookie Symposium in Cleveland.

You'll notice the team's first-round draft pick, offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson, has already mastered this skill. As demonstrated by his draft-day look, Tomlinson has a good handle on ties:


If you think this is a skill that these men should already have, you're not alone:




Other people thought this was a valuable life lesson:


Knowing how thorough NFL teams are with their pre-draft analysis, it's somewhat surprising that the Lions didn't only draft players who can tie their own ties. Before long tying a tie may be an event at the NFL Combine.

A Washington Nationals fan had his endless battle with a rain poncho broadcast by MASN, providing a cathartic moment to a nation of people who knew is pain.

The unidentified man is shown trying to fish his way into the transparent poncho, taking off his hat and trying to put on the protective covering as you would any other piece of attire.

But a poncho is not so easily conquered. Once inside, the man struggles to find the appropriate holes for his head and arms. At one point he places his hands on the walls of the poncho, trapped within a plastic bag of emotion.

The broadcast then cuts away to watch the ensuing Nationals pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays. Then, as soon as possible, we're back to the man, who has made some progress and is now trying to re-don his hat -- albeit not without some difficulty.

Thanks to whoever demanded we cut back to the poncho fight as quickly as possible. Within the larger context of the Nationals game, one man's struggle against a rain poncho provided the most satisfying subplot.

The Warriors' NBA championship serves as a capstone to Stephen Curry's MVP season. Curry's breakout year included multiple scoring records as his team dominated the NBA from start to finish.

Beyond the Golden State Warriors and their fan base, there's another organization celebrating an even more unlikely victory. Curry's victorious campaign is just the latest landmark achievement of professional athletes endorsing the Under Armour brand.

In that sense, Curry vs. LeBron James served as a fitting representation of Under Armour vs. Nike. No one is disputing that LeBron is the king. But for the moment at least, Curry is the champion.

The same is true for Under Armour, which bet on the upside of several promising athletes -- and reaped benefits greater than they ever could have imagined. Before Curry, Jordan Spieth emerged from relative obscurity to win The Masters in record-setting fashion.

Earlier in the year, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP. That's the same Brady who left Nike in 2010 to acquire an equity stake in Under Armour.

For some of this year's biggest pro sports events, Under Armour has been front and center. According to Adam Grossman of Block Six Analytics, the strategy is not unlike the approach used to build a promising roster such as the one the Warriors rode to victory.

"The most successful teams in sports now are the ones that find undervalued assets," Grossman says. "In particular, teams want to get young players on their first deals because they are so much cheaper.

"Look at the deals for Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Anthony Davis, Russell Wilson, etc. They are so valuable to their teams because they perform so well and they are cheap relative to other players. It is the reason that savviest teams often let higher price free agents leave, and make more bets on cheaper replacements who can perform as well or better."

In other words, Nike is the George Steinbrenner-era New York Yankees. Under Armour? It's more akin to the Kansas City Royals, building a winning roster on a limited budget.

Under Armour did try to woo Kevin Durant away from Nike last summer, when he was a free agent in the endorsement world. It almost worked, but Durant wound up re-upping with Nike. At the time, it looked like a loss for Under Armour -- a giant opportunity squandered. Now, it looks like a blessing in disguise.

"Under Armour could invest in younger athletes who had the potential to be great," Grossman says. "In addition, Under Armour increased the amount Nike had to pay by have negotiations with [Durant]."

The other important wrinkle to Under Armour's success is that it won by more or less playing the odds. With the money it saved by not investing in Durant, Under Armour was able to spread its money across a number of different players.

Against megastars like LeBron, Durant, Kobe Bryant (and Michael Jordan who has his personal label within Nike), Under Armour bet the field -- and that gamble is paying off.

Brady is the one outlier here -- he's entering the twilight of his career and already had a huge personal brand attached to his name. Brady was the one doing the betting on Under Armour, because he opted for an equity stake.

"A large portion of Brady's compensation would only come to fruition if Under Armour as a company did well," Grossman says. "Therefore, there is an argument to be made that Under Armour invested in Brady at a time when he was an undervalued asset."

After the past few months, Brady's bet looks brilliant. In the past year, Under Armour moved ahead of Adidas to become the No. 2 sportswear company in the U.S.

Adidas, which has the current contract to supply official NBA uniforms, decided not to pursue a renewal, and Nike won the bidding for the new deal that begins in the 2017-18 season. Nike's contract is for eight years and it is paying the NBA a reported $1 billion. The biggest twist is that the Nike logo will appear on the jerseys. In previous deals, such as the one with Adidas, the apparel company logo was not part of the jersey.

For Nike, getting the NBA uniform contract was somewhat expected, given that the company has about 90 percent of the basketball apparel market. But Curry's success this season underscores Under Armour's shrewd and selective approach as the underdog in basketball.

Hitting the Brady-Spieth-Curry championship trifecta within a five-month span -- all thanks to some savvy spending -- seems like a run of success that would be hard-pressed to duplicate. But just peeking ahead to the stretch run in baseball, it is worth noting that Under Armour has Harper (a frontrunner to be N.L. MVP), Buster Posey (already a three-time World Series champion with the Giants) and Clayton Kershaw (reigning N.L. MVP Cy Young winner).

Duke Ihenacho is making himself comfortable at Washington Redskins minicamp.

The 25-year-old safety showed up to practice wearing Chuck Taylors one day and slippers on another occasion. And somehow he managed not to get hurt.

In truth, Ihenacho only taped his cleats to look like other types of shoes, but he did an exceptionally good job. Here he is with the Chuck Taylor-inspired look:


And then recently with his "slippers:"


Ihenacho first started this tradition while he was a member of the Denver Broncos. Once a week, on what he dubbed "Flashy Fridays," he would make some alteration in his uniform.

With the NFL maintaining a super strict uniform policy, it seems unlikely that Ihenacho could get away with wearing these kicks during a game, but props to him for bringing out his creative side in practice.

Whatever is on Ihenacho's feet in 2015, Redskins fans hope it will help keep his lower body injury free. Before his senior year at San Jose State, Ihenacho suffered a broken metatarsal in one foot and a Lisfranc fracture in another. Then, during week 3 of the 2014 NFL season, Ihenacho went down with a season-ending fracture in his left foot.

What's next for Ihenacho? A Twitter follower suggested sandals, but Ihenacho said he's done that design in the past.


Sports athletes are known for having unique pre-game routines. But an emerging trend goes far beyond superstition and into the territory of a full-blown craze: Basketball players are turning to manicures and pedicures to get them ready to play.

As featured by Ben Cohen in The Wall Street Journal, players from both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers use regular mani-pedis to relax and keep their hands and feet in shape. Warriors forward Harrison Barnes goes straight to the spa from the practice facility, kicking back and getting his feet worked on.

LeBron James has been advocating the mani-pedi treatment for some time, calling on men last year to recognize the importance of proper foot care.


Warriors reserve Leandro Barbosa is the most diligent: He gets a pedicure every week. But the Cavs organization has them beat: the team brings in a specialist to give players mani-pedi service even in the hours before a game.

"So if that's what you want," says Cavs reserve James Jones, "you can get one every day."

It might seem purely cosmetic, but players insist there is practical value. Regular pedicures help clear away calluses and prevent small injuries that can yield big problems, such as an ingrown toenail.

Still, there are skeptics. Perhaps the best take on pedicures comes from Cavs starting center Timofey Mozgov, who has yet to partake of the mani-pedi action.

Says Mozgov: "I don't see these things in Russia."

But maybe a mani-pedi is a smart health move after all, particularly in the long view of things. You don't want your feet to end up like Shaquille O'Neal's:


She was like dam you got some pretty feet

A photo posted by DR. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on

Shaq, you should get those nails looked at. Something's wrong.

Kyrie Irving may not be a part of the NBA Finals anymore, but the Cleveland Cavaliers' All-Star point guard still managed to generate a story Wednesday.

Irving met with reporters for the first time after fracturing his kneecap in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He spoke about Matthew Dellavedova's rise to stardom, attempting to FaceTime Iman Shumpert during a game and why he has no regrets about playing in Game 1.

Observers also noticed a tattoo on Irving's arm that appears to be the logo from the popular show "Friends."


It's unclear when Irving got the tattoo or exactly what it means, but this discovery prompted some humorous tweets:






Things are going well for Irving's friends on the Cavaliers, who have taken a 2-1 series lead over the Warriors.

If it's indeed true that games are won or lost during the preparation stages, then Bryce Harper's hair is winning.

The Washington Nationals star admitted this week that he spends half an hour before each game styling his luscious locks.

“Seriously, it takes me about 30 minutes to do my hair before a game," Harper told MLB Network's Intentional Talk.

Whatever he's doing works, as Harper's hair has gotten nearly as much publicity as he has this year.


The big problem with Harper's hair, as has been noted before, is that all the gel he's got on his head may contribute to his helmet coming loose on the basepaths.

That is, when he needs to run the bases. Harper's been trotting a lot the first two months of the MLB season, and his 20 home runs are second in the league. The #HarperHomeRunTrot has been crucial to the Nats as they chase the New York Mets for first place in the NL East. As of Wednesday, Washington was half a game out of first.

After Stan Wawrinka's impressive victory over Novak Djokovic, people can't stop talking about the French Open champ's shots -- and shorts.

Mind-bending shots like this one led Djokovic to call Wawrinka's backhand "one of the best" he's seen in the game.

As for the shorts, well, it doesn't take a tennis enthusiast to appreciate them.

Throughout the tournament Wawrinka wore a pair of red, white and grey checked shorts that quickly became the talk of Twitter. Lots of people loved the shorts, including one mom who knows a thing or two about tennis:


But not everyone had nice things to say:





Wawrinka himself didn't approve of the shorts initially but came to cherish them by the end of the tournament:


He even brought a pair with him to his postmatch press conference:


Fans looking for another colorful Grand Slam outfit from Wawrinka will have to wait until the U.S. Open, as Wimbledon has a strict all-white rule.

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