In the current game of college football, some teams are going further and further away from their traditional looks. Some teams, such as the Oregon Ducks, have even abandoned their school colors all together. Teams are using the new flashy uniforms to lure in recruits and, amazingly, it seems to work. While the older crowd tends to prefer the traditional looks for schools, the target market, 17-to-22 year olds, seems to be embracing uniform changes. (To check out pictures of each uniform or helmet, just click on the hyperlink underlined in blue)
The biggest changes that I have noticed this year in college football would have to be the helmet styles. Teams like TCU and Oregon have used chrome helmets, like those introduced by Oregon in the Rose Bowl on January 2. On the flip-side, several teams including Minnesota, Ohio and Illinois have gone to matte-style paint jobs. This paint style is less known and leads to a flat color. Another trend is wearing uniforms that are all the same color, ranging from all white, to all gray, to all black and/or all team color.
Each conference has had some changes, varying from well done to complete train wrecks. Here are my opinions of the best and worst uniforms by conference this season.
Best– This year Maryland decided to highlight state pride again, without going completely off the deep end like last season. On September 21, the Terrapins wore some beautiful all-white uniforms with light gray highlighting. The helmet even had the pattern from the state flag. For the “Oregon” of Under Armour, these are a great, tame alternate.
Worst– I really, really dislike when Virginia wears its orange helmets. The Cavaliers look awkward without its blue helmets, and the orange doesn’t seem to match the orange of the jerseys. To me, UVA needs to wear the Blue helmets from Tiki Barbers days in Charlottesville.
Best– I have to say one of the sharpest looking uniforms on the East Coast this year has to be Rutgers. The away uniforms in particular, with the all-white combo and the chrome silver helmet, are quite eye-catching. The flashy new look seems to be working for the No. 15 Scarlet Knights.
Worst– The Temple Owls are the newest addition to the Big East this season. They also are one of the latest teams to pull out the imaginary school color of black for its game against Rutgers. The look might have worked if the jerseys weren’t so plain. I also really think if a team is going to do the blackout, they should commit and have black helmets as well.
Best– Northwestern decided to join the “Black For Black Sake” crowd on October 20 when it played Nebraska. For me, the helmet and the mid-chest stripe really set the uniform off for the Wildcats. This uniform combination really displayed innovation by Under Armour.
Worst– My worst uniforms out of the Big 10 is a 2-for-1 special. On September 29, Wisconsin played Nebraska and Adidas decided to give both teams some terrible alternatives. I’m really not a fan of the big letter on the chest in either of these jerseys.
Best– For the most part this season the Big 12 has been pretty boring, but WVU brought out the all gray uniforms versus Maryland. This uniform went well with the maize and navy of the Mountaineers. They also used the gray helmets versus Texas Tech and wore them with the whites, which was a great look.
Worst– This past weekend Oklahoma State went with the mono-orange and the Pistol Pete helmet. Even though it’s almost Halloween, this was way too much orange on one team. The helmet logo is cool and would look decent on a black or white helmet.
Best– The best uniforms in the C-USA may have made the smallest change possible. But small as it may be, the subtle addition of the skull and crossbones really sets this helmet over the edge and improves from the plain ECU script.
Worst– University of Southern Mississippi brought out these monstrosities against Marshall. I have to say I don’t know if the helmet logo or the double shoulder stripe plus something makes this look worse. Overall just not a good look for a team that once wore these gems.
Best– My favorite of the Independents, which aren’t many to pick from, would have to be the uniforms worn by Notre Dame in Ireland. The Irish flag colors on the cleats, gloves and socks were a great addition to a clean, traditional look.
Worst– While it was hard to pick against the arguably worst uniform choice Notre Dame has ever made, I just can’t stand up for a team who does a blackout when its school colors are Navy and white. I mean really BYU Cougars, what were you thinking when you decided to go “Black For Black Sake” on us versus Oregon State? At least the Cougars had the decency to sport a black helmet along with those all black duds.
Best– My favorite MAC jersey of this season is definitely the get-up Toledo wore against Cincinnati. These all grays with the matte blue helmet and the old-school UT really set this look off for me.
Worst– Central Michigan is yet another team who wants a little darkness in its program. Black uniforms that is. I honestly don’t even know how a team that is maroon and yellow can think that black would look good with it. I mean even its yellow uniforms are hideous, but at least those are school colors.
Best– As off the wall as these Air Force Academy uniforms were, I can really appreciate that the checkering of the jersey is as if a stealth bomber. These have a place in my heart because, from a distance, they look very similar to the uniforms I wore when I played high school football.
Worst– Where do I even begin on Wyoming’s new attempt at urban camo. These may be the ugliest uniforms ever created. The team colors of brown and yellow don’t help, but the camo shoulder pattern is rough.
Best– This is my easiest choice for favorite uniform. The beautiful combination Oregon wore versus Arkansas State is my favorite combination this entire college football season. The fact these follow the Ducks actual color scheme while still being flashy and shiny really makes them visually appealing. I can really appreciate that, even with the wings, they found a way to still have the iconic “O” on the helmet, even if only on the back.
Worst– My least favorite Pac-12 uniform would have to be when Washington State decided to go full gray. The gray jersey with the red looks good, but it needs red pants or a red helmet to offset the overall vibe of the look. Not to mention it looks slightly ridiculous against a team in white.
Best– This one may be a little surprising, but I think Missouri has really done some good things with their new look. The best part in my opinion would have to be the beautiful Tiger on the side of their matte black helmet. I’m not normally much of a yellow jersey guy but with the black/yellow/black it really seems to flow and looks good on the field.
Worst– Once again I am really not a fan of the gray jersey with the gray pants. The one thing South Carolina did get right about this uniform is that the pattern on the pants and undershirt is actually quiet neat. Overall this one just really didn’t do it for me.
Best– Louisiana Monroe is not only a team that has been over achieving this year, but it has been one who has looked clean in all-whites doing it. Not to mention they introduced college football to this awesome play.
Worst– Oh poor Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Adidas doomed the Owls by throwing some hideous wings on their shoulders in an attempt to look like the Ducks of Oregon. The colors could have so much promise, but those shoulder wings just really make me dislike these uniforms for Florida Atlantic.
Best– Something about Utah State in the matte navy helmet with the navy jerseys and gray pants just really screams success to me. This is another example that sometimes less can be more, and it’s not always about being flashy.
Worst– The WAC has so few teams, and such simple designs that I honestly don’t dislike any of them. I just really only like what Utah State has been wearing.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, and favorite uniforms in the comments section. Even better if you have a picture or link to share.
- Knights in shining armor? Rutgers’ new Nike uniforms have drawn mixed reviews (nj.com)
- Clothes Call: 2012 Big Ten helmet gallery (btn.com)