In Georgia Tech’s switch to Adidas, new sneakers for Buzz

Georgia Tech mascot Buzz does a flip as the band takes the field before playing Virginia Tech Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in Atlanta.

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Georgia Tech mascot Buzz does a flip as the band takes the field before playing Virginia Tech Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech’s move to Adidas as its apparel provider has come with widespread anticipation and approval. There is at least one small cost to the changeover from Russell Athletic, which becomes official Sunday.

Buzz will no longer wear his trademark Converse Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers. Come football season, Buzz’s feet will be adorned in custom Adidas sneakers, part of the company’s efforts to make its three-stripe brand as visible as possible.

For Tech fans bound to tradition, it may be a defeat at the hands of commerce. At a Georgia Tech Athletic Association board meeting earlier in the year, athletic director Todd Stansbury described Buzz’s black canvas hightops as “iconic” and school president G.P. “Bud” Peterson jokingly asked if the changeover could happen over the summer when students wouldn’t be around to notice.

“I think people are going to notice,” Stansbury replied.

The Chuck Taylors go back with Buzz since the school recognized him as its official mascot in 1980. The student who created the costume, Richard Bland, incorporated the Converse sneakers into the uniform, and they’ve remained ever since.

The costume has had slight modifications over the years, but the black Chuck Taylors became a recognized part of the outfit. A story in the institute’s alumni magazine in 2017 noted that “Buzz always wears black Converse high tops and white gloves.”

There was little chance that Adidas officials could be convinced to defer to tradition. Apparel contracts with partner schools typically require teams (including cheerleading/spirit teams) to wear only their products for practices and games and prohibit team members from wearing gear manufactured by other companies.

The debut date for Buzz's Adidas sneakers has not yet been determined, but he'll have the new sneakers by the first football game of the season, Sept. 1 against Alcorn State at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

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Georgia Tech’s 2018 schedule will include two non-Saturday games, including its first Friday regular-season game since 1994.

For at least one former Buzz, the change is a positive step. Like Stansbury, Ben Chang described Buzz’s Converse high tops as iconic, but liked that Buzz will have custom sneakers. From a practical standpoint, Chang said, the Chuck Taylors were not ideal footwear as they didn’t offer much cushioning or support. They didn’t offer much protection from wet conditions, either.

“For me, it’s a good thing,” said Chang, who performed as Buzz as he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, the latter in 2016. “It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s a new chapter, I feel like.”