Wednesday, October 5, 2011

College Football Uniforms

...are a hot-button issue this season.  A lot of teams have come out with vastly expanded uniform designs and combinations, most of these being teams that use Under Armour gear (Oklahoma State and Maryland have been the most talked-about).  I guess they figured they better try to compete with Nike or fall behind even more.  These new uniforms have come under heavy fire, especially from the boring old people commentating on ESPN.  But the reason they're around is the players love them, so odds are the trend isn't going to slow or turn.  And it shouldn't, necessarily.  The amount of colors and combinations used make it inevitable that some heinous uniforms will come out, but a lot of them are really pretty good.  Oregon, the poster child for uniform madness, has had unis at both extremes.  And one can't forget that there are some programs that have landed on a look so classic it doesn't need changing at all.  The flip side of that, though, are the programs that haven't changed their uniforms in forty years.  These are mostly incredibly boring (Penn State, Alabama, I'm looking at you).  There's a balance to be struck between classic and cutting-edge, and different styles suit different programs.  That being said, I thought I'd add my two cents on which teams have gotten it right, because it seems to differ a lot from what others are saying.


Like I said, there are several teams that have stuck to simplicity amid the trend to difersify, and a few have done so with fantastic results.  It seems like a lot of these programs are teams that have been elite for decades, which makes a lot of sense.  People know immediately who they're looking at, so don't fix what isn't broken.  


I'll get this one out of the way.  I'm a UT student so I'm inherently biased, but I've looked around and a lot of people agree with me.  Texas has some of the best football uniforms on planet earth; the away jerseys especially.  All white with burnt orange accents, they're basically the visual embodiment of less is more.  The home jerseys are very similar, just switching burnt orange with white on the top.

Florida State

The perfect balance between two really good-looking colors.  That helmet logo is among the very best in college sports.  It sounds a bit ridiculous, but the word beautiful is perfectly fitting for these uniforms.

Ohio State

I'm definitely not an Ohio State fan, but I have to admit they have some great home uniforms.  They're one of the few three-color uniforms I've seen that look truly great.  A ridiculous number of teams have red as their primary color, but OSU's red is surprisingly unique.  The helmet stripe is repeated exactly on the sleeves and the pants, a design chioce I like a lot.  I prefer the helmets sans buckeye stickers, but everything is so simple they don't really distract you.



Notre Dame


Slick and New

Nike has led the charge on modern, varied, and multi-textured uniforms with their Pro-Combat series and their runway models at Oregon.  A lot of these combinations can look really good, but there are some that transcend to classic status almost instantly.

Arizona State

ASU completely rebranded last year with the help of Nike, and it was a huge success.  The new logo looks great, and all the jersey combinations are good.  The all-blacks are the real standouts.


Oregon has been the standard-bearer for Nike in their uniform experiments, and their jerseys seem to change every game they play.  As many look really good as look ridiculous, but every once in a while a true classic emerges, and is promptly scrapped for something else.  The Pro-Combat unis in their season opener vs. LSU were great.

I really liked the helmets they wore in the National Championship game last year, too.


My family raised me as Mizzou fans, so I'm biased to black and gold.  Also, Mizzou has been the beneficiary of some of the best Pro-Combat unis since the series began.  


LSU benefits a lot from making the gold of their Purple and Gold... actually gold.  




And Finally...

The most talked about uniforms this season by far were the ones Maryland unveiled in their opening game against Miami.  Definitely the most striking unis so far, they featured patterns from the very unusual flag of Maryland, and they were almost universally panned by crotchety ESPN analysts.  The Maryland players seemed to love them, though.

I'm going on record as saying I like the infamous flag uniforms.  They're a great way to rebrand a program that has struggled in the ACC and needs a jolt.  Obviously uniforms won't make a tangible difference on the field, but they create interest and are uniquely Maryland's.  Sure the patterns are wacky and bold, but the rest of the uniforms are simple white, so there's a pretty good design balance.


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