Friday, September 2, 2011

The Top Ten Uniforms in College Football, Pt. 1

The first thing you have to be aware of when compiling a list of the top ten uniforms in college football, is that for many teams, they change constantly. That makes dictating a definitive list difficult. Most of the best uniforms in college football belong to those tradition-rich schools that don't often change their branding, but that's not always the case. To quote Billy Costigan quoting Nathaniel Hawthorne, "College football uniforms are always rising and falling in America." Or something like that. I've noticed three basic trends in college football uniform design right now: some, like numbers nine and ten in this countdown, are moving from a modern look filled with various accoutrement, to a classic, cleaner look. Others go simply from one fat stripe and weird piping to another: the natural, inch-by-inch progression of broad trends in design. And still others have decided to eschew all good sensibility and instead drum up publicity for their program by going bat shit crazy. Got a perennial 7-5 team, ever on the cusp of breaking through to the next level? The answer's simple: wear a lot of stupid ugly uniforms. It worked for Oregon.

Also before getting into the countdown, I'd like to point out that my roommate has pointed out, somewhat with disgust, "I have never met anyone who talks about uniforms as much as you do." What can I say? I LOVE college football. And though my favorite part is when Ronnell Lewis runs into someone so hard that it sounds like their spine broke, I can also get excited about all the design elements that go into the game. Besides, my roommate only said that because he's never read Paul Lukas' utterly genius Uni Watch column on ESPN. That guy gets me, and makes me feel less weird about obsessing over uniform design. Lukas also has a personal Uni Watch blog, but I find it to be only slightly less tl;dr inducing than The New Yorker. Although I produced my list before reading this year's listing of every uniform change in the FBS, I'll be linking to some of Lukas' pictures, and I'm generally indebted to him for his awesomeness.

And without further ado, A-WAY we go!

10) Colorado

In the last few years, Colorado's uniforms haven't been anything special. A few years ago, they even suffered a bit of controversy for these for adding some textured whatchamacallits to their shoulders.

The fear was that they were somehow engineered to cause tacklers to slip off ball handlers, but to me they looked grippy, if anything. Anyway, they proved in whichever way that they provided no advantage, and wore them from 2007-2009, I believe. (Research showed that they definitely didn't have them in the 2005 Big XII Championship; results for the 2006 season came back from the lab inconclusive.)

Then, in 2010 (and I didn't even notice this until today!) they switched over to a more classic home jersey, dropping the shoulder grips, the gold piping, and the gold outline around the numbers, and changing the Colorado script to a large white font that matches the new large white numbers.

They also added some retro-looking shoulder stripes, moving the numbers from the side of the shoulders to the top. I think they look pretty slick. Much better than the last few years. Uni watch pointed out that one long-time problem for Colorado is that their helmets didn't match their pants. According to this picture, a comparison put together by Uni Watch, they've fixed the problem for the upcoming season. More than enough improvement to warrant a spot at the bottom of this list.

9) Boston College

Another team that would not have made this list before I read this year's Uni Watch. What used to look somewhere between terrible and average:

Now looks pretty fantastic.

They've ensmallened the numbers and removed the italics (a.k.a. made them legible), dropped the numbers from the shoulder as well as the eagle patch (which was itself only added a few years ago), and added a white stripe on the helmet (which I think looks good, but the fans seem to hate). I still can't tell what's on the shoulder, if anything, nor can I find any other pictures of the new digs. The answers will come this Saturday, but they're still clean as hell and I love 'em.

Up next.... teams 8 - however far I get!

1 comment:

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