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Off the Cuff: The Law of Diminishing Returns

Armed with Mountain Dew and an opinion, Drew has been set loose

UCF’s Knightmode uniform
Derek Warden

Some say too much of a good thing is wonderful. Others feel that too much of a good thing makes it less enjoyable. For those who had to take economics classes in school, you might have heard of the law of diminishing returns.

So what is the law of diminishing returns? According to the Google dictionary, it’s a principle stating that profits or benefits gained from something will represent a proportionally smaller gain as more money or energy is invested in it. I learned about it in economics class long ago.

In English? Too much of a good thing becomes less good.

This isn’t limited to economic theory as you can really apply it anywhere. You like McDonald’s? They have used this theory in regard to the McRib. In the United States, it was a permanent menu item in 1981 and it was removed as a result of poor sales in 1985. Over the years that followed, McDonald’s would bring it back here and there over the years as a promotional item. In the 2000s, it was added as a national limited-time offering and demand jumped. The scarcity of the sandwich drove up the demand. They even used the promotion as a “farewell tour” on a few occasions to drive up demand.

This worked because the McRib was not a permanent menu item. Having it on a limited basis allowed people to have a higher degree of satisfaction versus if the sandwich was always around.

We can apply that same law to the use, or overuse, of UCF’s Knightmode uniform.

When the UCF Knights upper brass signed an two-year extension with Nike for their apparel and redesigned their uniforms, it opened up possibilities in what direction they might go. At athletic director Terry Mohajir’s request, they created a purely black and gold uniform aptly named Knightmode.

The first time the uniform was unveiled, it received critical acclaim from the fanbase*.

Despite what Christian Simmons says, I don’t always hate the uniforms. I just call it how I see it. If I think it’s good, I say it’s good. If I think it’s not, I say it’s not.

Here is what I wrote about Knightmode when it first came out:

UCF ended up making the decals work last season and then changed the color of the helmet shell for 2023. Gold really is a hard color to work with.

When the uniform first came out, we didn’t see all the details or the details changed. It didn’t take long to see more once they started getting used and finding features that can be viewed as flaws, such as names on the back that are incredibly hard to read. Depending on the light angle, you might not see any portion of the NOBs. As you can see further below, the demo had gold letting versus this weird, reflective charcoalish lettering.

As time went on and UCF kept using this uniform for offseason promos, Big 12 media days, and more, the law of diminishing returns began to show itself and what was hailed early on started to receive hate. It’s not that the switch up on Knightmode has been insane, CFBKnights (thank you for these useful tweets, by the way), it’s the law.

I don’t agree that Knightmode is ugly at all. It’s a good changeup, but it’s definitely not a primary uniform. The attitude in the above tweet, and I’ve seen others on UCF Twitter echo their displeasure, is growing as it’s getting used more and more. It certainly has its flaws. Take it outside of UCF Twitter, where pro-UCF bias doesn’t sway opinions, and the forecast is less rosy. Some might say it’s just UCF hate talking, and they might be right to an extent, but there might also be truth to it. The law is in full force.

I won’t touch on the new Lightmode uniform today, but this tweet below does allude to the need for scarcity. The regular home and away uniforms are designed to handle the scrutiny of overuse. They are more traditional uniforms with less gimmicky features. When the 2016 series had multiple standard options to choose from, it prevented any of them from truly being overused and gave us a sense of what we were looking at to be more unique. I can understand why the lack of options could be viewed negatively.

Let’s go back up a bit. Why is there an asterisk when referring to the fanbase?

The fanbase has been trained over the years to love anything that comes out when it’s new. That really applies to any fanbase, not just UCF. When Adidas first introduced its uniform collection ahead of the 2004 season, it was loved. The gold variant the next year? Same thing. By the following season though, 2006, fans were already pushing for a return of the black uniforms. They got their wish for one game that season and then had to wait until 2009 to see a black UCF top again on the football field. The 2010 Nike template, despite being outdated already, was hailed as something fresh. The 2013 refresh was more modern and even more loved. The 2010 and 2013 templates ran for three seasons before being replaced, just long enough for fans to tire of them and want something new.

The 2016 redesign bucked the trend. Instead of a more traditional uniform set of one home, one away, and one alternate, the Knights were able to create an extra alternate that was able to be used on the road or at home. They pivoted away from the black/white/gold that has been used since 2004(05) with a new Pegasus collection of black/white/pewter/anthracite. Two others were added later on with the more polarizing Knighthead tops and the one-off series of Space Game uniforms, which have won uniform awards.

As long as there is no green, the fanbase will eat it up, and that’s ok. We all know why and what happens when you fail to read the room regarding colors. I’m looking at you, Orlando Guardians.

Here’s the thing though. Especially during the Adidas run from 2005-2009 where they wore one set of gold and one set of white, the amount of exposure these sets had allowed people to pick them apart. You start to see flaws, imperfections, and features that might start to annoy you. You grow tired of them. It’s the law. You might deny it, but you’re just lying to yourself. As I said above, the ability to jump from uniform to uniform helped prevent overuse in the 2016 Pegasus collection and allowed the template to run all the way through the end of the Nike contract in 2021 without the same type of fatigue as with the previous series.

You stare long enough and then you see flaws. Once you see a flaw, you can’t unsee it. It’s like a stain on a shirt. Does anyone remember the Tide talking stain ad from the 2008 Super Bowl? Poor guy.

Does Knightmode need to go away? No. Does it need to be used less? Yes. Let’s respect the law of diminishing returns and keep the scarcity alive.