By Michael Teich
The College Football Playoff hasn't even kicked off, but Under Armour is already a winner.
For the first time since the final four-structured championship began in 2014, a non-Nike brand is sponsoring one of the teams that made the playoffs.
This year, that team is Notre Dame and Under Armour is the sponsor.
Under Armour may have stolen a final four sponsorship from Nike, but Nike still has a strong grip on the sport at the college level. Following the selection made by the College Football Playoff committee on Sunday, 19 of the 20 teams that have made the college football playoff since it began in 2014 have featured the Nike swoosh on their jerseys.
Unless there is a power shift, it does not appear that Nike's reign will come to an end anytime soon, as familiar names continue to dominate the championship. Alabama has been in all five playoffs, Clemson has been selected for four in a row, and Oklahoma has made its way into the top four three times.
Beyond Notre Dame, which switched from Adidas to Under Armour in 2014, no other non-Nike branded team was close to being selected for the playoff. Out of the top 25 ranked teams, 21 were sponsored by Nike ($NKE), two by Under Armour ($UAA), and two by Adidas ($ADDYY). The highest-ranked non-Nike school was Utah, which was rated the 17th best team in the nation.
Nike dominance is not limited to college football. The sports retailer had its logo emblazoned on the jerseys of three of four teams in college basketball's 2018 final four, and is the sponsor of eight of the last 10 champions. Nike also scored big during the 2018 World Cup when both France and Croatia entered the championship wearing the swoosh.