Since it's so hard to make a pleasing gradient out of #660000 maroon, we agreed at the last meeting that we did not favor a gradient color (and decided to defer to Mr.Glaze's judgment, actually).
I've probably been too much in love with gradients, because I forgot about transparent images, which are easy to achieve but make a big impact.
Have a look at this banner I just saw on the ULM University Advancement pages:
(the font here is boring, but given the office it's for, that's very likely deliberate and appropriate)
Compare that directly to this banner:
What a difference!