The Anchor’s Desk with Scott Reister: Burnt Orange The Color Of Choice Among College Fans

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a new regular feature on Midwest Sports Fans called “The Anchor’s Desk,” which features KNDU-TV (TriCities and Yakima,WA) Sports Director Scott Reister. Scott is a native of Texas whose love for sports spans the nation. He will be a great addition to our writing team, and I think you will enjoy his unique perspective.


Anchor's Desk with Scott Reister | Texas Leads in Collegiate Merchandise Sales

by Scott Reister

RICHLAND, Wash. – Three years ago, I packed up the family and moved from Texas to the state of Washington, taking with me all the burnt orange sweatshirts, t-shirts, fleeces, hats, and footballs I owned. Would I be an outsider in a strange new world of Huskies and Cougars? Hardly.

It felt like I never left the Forty Acres.

Texas apparel was everywhere. At the mall. At Wal-Mart. On men, women, and children. On my baby (I dressed her as a UT cheerleader for the OU game). These days, wherever you are, University of Texas gear seems more popular than the local college.

I’ve been told a store in Colorado (home of the Big 12-rival Buffaloes) had Texas jerseys on display in the front windows, while the Colorado jerseys were hanging on the back wall.
Turns out that “Hook ‘Em” has evolved in to an 800-pound gorilla. What gives?

Well, the first (and most obvious) reason is their recent success in just about every major sport.

“When you have athletic success, it provides you with a great opportunity to capitalize on the excitement around that success,” said Craig Westemeier, Assistant Athletics Director for Trademark Licensing. “We’ve been fortunate to maintain that.”

I’ll say. In the 2004-2005 school year, the year before Texas beat USC for the championship, the university pulled in $4 million in royalties.

After Vince Young’s heroics, that number increased to $8.2 million dollars, a whopping 103% increase. That year, Texas became the top-selling institution among colleges represented by the Collegiate Licensing Company. The Horns have been tops on the list ever since with $7.5 million in ‘06-’07, and $8 million in ‘07-‘08. Notre Dame, the highest-ranked Midwest school, ranked 5th. (For the complete list click here.)Texas Longhorns Merchandise Sells More Than any other University's

“That year was a springboard into the national spotlight,” said Westemeier of the championship year. “It allowed people to see us and say ‘Wow, I like that.’”

Since then, it’s been the perfect convergence of favorable factors.

“We have a large state, a large student population, one of the largest alumni bases (450,000 living alumni), a great logo with the Longhorn, athletic success, and academic success,” said Westemeier.

Forget Mack Brown — even pop culture has spurred the Horns’ rise to apparel dominance.
“A few years ago burnt orange became a hot fashion color,” said Westemeier. “We saw it happen around ‘04-‘05. Burnt orange and purple were the new colors. For a few years it was light blue and that really helped out North Carolina.”

Recession? Not here. UT is hopeful its brand will continue to sell.

“The college product is hot right now. Most schools are seeing growth. People will still spend just for their affinity to the schools.”

And each time you swipe, the rich get richer.

Texas Longhorns Billiard Balls | Longhorns Merchandize Outsells All other Universities“We have a ten percent royalty fee,” said Westemeier. “For example, if a T-shirt wholesales for $5, and retails for $12, we get 50 cents from every shirt sold.”

Factor in the hats, luggage, pool cues, and baby gear (I have plenty), it adds up fast. The $8 million Texas raked in last year goes back into the athletic department, with a percentage going to the academic side.

When you’re hot, you’re hot. And right now, UT is the “it” thing to wear. So while it may pain my Aggie brother, all those burnt orange shirts are here to stay…at least until A&M’s maroon becomes the next fall color.


Scott Reister is a featured contributor to Midwest Sports Fans, as well as Dallas Sports Fans.

He is a Sports Anchor for the NBC affiliate in the Tri-Cities and Spokane, WA. To learn more about Scott, visit the Scott Reister bio page on Midwest Sports Fans or check out the Local Sports page on

To contact Scott:


  1. I don’t think it is as bad in Indiana as you describe in Washington, but there is no doubt that Texas stuff is all over the place.

    But I wonder, with all of the tears cried by Texas fans this season about getting shafted in the Big 12 game and BCS, is the orange really “burnt” anymore? Seems like the tears might have put out the fire…

    Sadly, the Longhorns will be awesome next year and create a whole new set of bandwaggon-jumping fans wearing the burnt orange. God help us all…

  2. Your are right about that jrod, Texas is going to be awesome in 2009. God bless Texas!

  3. I know I'm late to reading this post, but I have to comment and hope Scott actually reads them. As a Coug alum, I'm guessing that Scott must've went to UW because his knowledge of geography is HORRIBLE. How can you make the statement above that Notre Dame is the highest ranked midwest university. Excuse me, but where Mr. Geographically-challenged would you put the #2 ranked University of Michigan Wolverines? From any understanding of geography that I garnered, the state of Michigan lies directly due north (and just across the border) from South Bend, Indiana. Are you really going to tell me Michigan is in the northeast? I thought you were writing a column about the midwest — but you can't identify the STATES that make up the midwest??? How ironic…

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