There was a time when the Miners wore essentially the same uniform for years. Back when Don Haskins was in charge the Miners' look was traditional: white home and orange away jerseys with the big arched "UTEP" in front, block numbers and no names on the back. Things changed in the late 90's when Coach Haskins retired though; the university darkened its shade of blue, ditched the old-school bearded running Paydirt Pete for a more rigid, mustachioed Pete, and introduced the now familiar UTEP insignia with the "T" as a pick. With the new logos came the opportunity to change up the Miners' threads on the floor, and man, did they ever take advantage. With the Miner basketball season looming near, let's take time to look at UTEP's fashion throughout the 2000's:
(Click on the links for pictures on other sites. I'd post them on the article if I could, but SB Nation has its rules.)
The Miners' first crack at uniforms with the new logos and darker shades of blue saw them opt for the flat-top font found under the modern paydirt pete logo instead of the rounder UTEP "T-pick" insignia they would use later. The numbers have a slight drop shadow that looked cool at the time. Keeping with the Haskins tradition though, the jerseys have no names on the back.
Some slight tweaks are made to make the overall look sharper. The collar is a v shape with a horizontal line at the base, which was a look that was all the rage in the NBA at the time and is still used by teams (Lakers, Heat). The letters and numbers were changed to be different colors on both the home and away jerseys, and the uniforms are made from a fabric that looks shinier under the lights. Names are also added to the back of the jerseys for the first time in a long time.
The jerseys from this era may hold a special place in Miner fans' hearts since they conjure up the golden age of Miner ball within the post-Haskins era. These are the jerseys Fili Rivera and Omar Thomas went dancing in two years in a row, and for that reason they are essentially modern classics, right up there with the '66 checker-collared jerseys and 80's powder-blue accented plain jerseys. For the first time, the Miners used the "Pick T" insignia instead of the flat-top insignia and the trim on the home jerseys went back to being orange.
The Miners tweaked their look again for 2006-2007. They kept the UTEP "Pick T" insignia, but ditched the orange trim in favor of blue. They made the numbers thicker and had them contrast in color with the insignia. The biggest change, however, was the inclusion of the first blue jerseys in UTEP basketball history (unless there's some rare jersey from the 80's, 70's, or 60's I'm not aware of). Miner fans were immediately split in their opinions about the blues. The traditionalists said the Miners should always wear orange on the road. The new waves said the dark blues just plain look sharper.
Once again, the Miners keep the UTEP "T-pick," but big changes were made to the collar, trim, numbers, and cut of the jersey. These jerseys always looked a bit baggy to me, no matter which player was wearing them, but it was definitely more noticeable on the thin, scoring machine that was Stefon Jackson. On the road, the Miners had the option of orange or blue, and wore both about the same amount of time, as far as I can remember.
Coach Barbee decided to go for a modern, flashy looking Nike template in his third year at UTEP, and what turned out to be his only NCAA Tournament appearance. For the first time ever, the Miners wore an insignia that did not say "UTEP" on the front, but instead "miners." The UTEP "T-pick" logo appeared on both orange and blue versions of the road uniforms.
2010 marked the return of Coach Floyd to El Paso, and shouldn't we have known Barbee's flashy look would not fly with Floyd's old school style? The team switched from Nike to Adidas and went with a plain looking jersey, except for the interesting side piping. Unlike the traditional Haskins jerseys though, the "UTEP" name on the front is not arched and appears very small in comparison to the numbers. Floyd also did away with the names on the back, and if you remember, even tried to have the scoreboards at the Haskins Center not display personal scoring totals during the game. There's no doubt Floyd drives home the point of playing for the name on the front instead of the name on the back.
Home white, away orange, away blue
Unfortunately, these near-throwbacks were only used for a year. We knew Floyd wanted to build a connection to the school's glory days, but we had no idea how well the 2012-2013 jerseys could blend elements of the old school (60's checker-collar, arched "UTEP" insignia, plain but classic stripe down the shorts) with the new ("Miners" insignia on the away orange jersey, new Miner orange instead of 60's burnt orange, inclusion of a blue jersey). Personally, I loved this look.
Home white, away orange, away black (only link I could found was UTEP Bball FB homepage. Just scroll down until you see the pic with all three jerseys)
And that brings us to this year's edition of Miner jerseys. The Miners have switched back to Nike and kept the no-frills look that screams Tim Floyd. The number font is much more modern though and now there's a "Miners" insignia on both the home whites and away oranges. Trying to make out numbers from a distance may be difficult with these though, as the numbers and "Miners" insignia letters are the exact same color as the jersey background. The lack of contrast may make the team look like its wearing one solid color from a distance, especially in orange. For the first time ever, the Miners' road alternate jersey will be black. Unlike the other two in the group, the black jersey has numbers of a different color (dark blue) and has an arched "UTEP" insignia instead of "Miners."
So there you have it. 9 different looks for our boys in orange (and sometimes blue) in almost a decade and a half. Clearly, the Miners have been looking for an identity in the Post-Haskins era in more ways than one.