BCS of uniforms: Pac-12

The UCLA players are pretty pumped to be named the best uniform in college football according to this blog. Photo by Associated Press

So even though the college football season has come to an end, we’ll have one last look at a major conference before reviewing the style displayed in the bowl games this season.

1. UCLA

These are the best uniforms is college football. The combination of a gold helmet, with purple lettering and a light blue uniform that features gold and white stripes on the shoulders. The uniform is completed by gold pants that complete the uniform in a perfect way.

2. Oregon

The Ducks have to get some credit here for being the pioneers behind this uniform revolution. It’s very difficult to pick one uniform combination because there must have been about 100 over the years. The general idea of green with yellow is cool, and again major credit going to Oregon for starting this craze.

3. USC

This is another example of a classic college football uniform that still works. The stripes on the shoulders are a bit different than the usual, but the combination of red and yellow still works.

4. Colorado

I like black with gold, and the logo on the helmet is subtle, but still works since the buffalo is neat.

5. Oregon State

These are pretty simple uniforms, but still solid. Orange with black is pretty cool, and I am a fan of the font used for the numbers.

6. Washington

The Huskies have a pretty regal look with gold and purple featured most prominently on the uniform. The W on the helmet is a good look.

7. Stanford

It’s a simple look for the Cardinal, but it goes along with the persona of the team. They never try to do anything too flashy and the uniform displays that.

8. Arizona State

The Sun Devils tried to liven up their uniforms this season, but it didn’t quite work that well. I enjoyed the old yellow helmets, but I understand what they were going for with the change.

9. California

If not for some unnecessary changes to the helmet that saw a paw and a weird stripe added to the helmet. The general color scheme is good, but there’s a little too much going on there for me.

10. Arizona

The Wildcats can’t really decide what they want their helmets to be. Sometimes they are blue, sometimes they are white, and I can’t find a rhyme or reason to it.

11. Utah

It’s a look that could be more simple if they wanted to improve it. There’s no need for some of the piping along the sides are crawling up the uniform.

12. Washington State

The Cougars don’t do much to get creative here. They even added some gray uniforms which was completely unnecessary and just looked weird.

Week 7 College football review: Spartans and bumble bees

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson couldn't overcome Michigan State and their new uniforms on Saturday. Photo by Associated Press

The biggest splash in college football uniforms came right off the bat on Saturday. As soon as Lee Corso picked Oregon to defeat Arizona State, ESPN switched to the Michigan-Michigan State game. We’ve known for a long time the Spartans would use a UAB-type look for this game, but Michigan’s throwback look came as a surprise.

The coolest thing about Michigan’s throwbacks was they didn’t warm up in them. The Wolverines were in their usual road unis before that feature maize pants before changing to the 1970s throwbacks for the game in East Lansing, Mich.

I’ll start with Michigan. I was hoping before the game they would go with something similar to the heritage uniforms they wore against Notre Dame in Week 2. The difference here is maize as the prominent color on the shoulder stripes instead of the blue, the number replacing the M on the front of the jersey and no stitch details on the numbers.

It’s a pretty solid look overall. The big numbers on the back of the jersey work well as do the small numbers on the helmets that don’t get in the way of the helmet design.

The only thing that bothers me with these uniforms is the Wolverines basically look like bumble bees. The prominence of maize on the stripes gives off that illusion, and since they are at the shoulders they are always seen by the fans.

Now on to Michigan State.

The Spartans looked totally unrecognizable for this game. The usual green and white combination for home games was totally thrown out for this rivalry game against Michigan.

The color scheme is very similar to that of UAB for home games. Overall, the colors do work together well, but they are not Michigan State’s colors. The gold helmets that had a bit of tint to them in certain places look like real Spartans (since I am clearly familiar with the men of Sparta, Greece.)

Moving on from the state of Michigan, here are your quick hits:

Oregon's Bryan Bennett stepped up for Oregon in a relatively conservative uniform game for these the Ducks and Arizona State. Photo by Associated Press

  • The last game of the night was a uniform special as Oregon and Arizona State faced off. The Ducks’ uniforms were average, nothing too special. Arizona State also looked pretty conservative with their maroon helmets and pants for a road game.
  • Virginia donned some nice orange and blue uniforms for their upset victory over Georgia Tech.
  • I’m still waiting for Oklahoma State to wear white helmets with orange. Their black-on-white-on-black look this week was just all right.
  • Washington State went with an all-gray look against Stanford. The Cougars have been down for a long time, so I guess they were trying to get hyped up for this one. It didn’t work.

Week 6 College football review: Black all over

Rutgers rolled over Pittsburgh in a statement victory on Saturday, and they look pretty good in all-black uniforms doing it. Photo by The Star-Ledger

This week’s choice in college football uniforms was about as exciting as the games. Which is to say there was a very limited amount of excitement to be had.

The biggest splash of the day might have come from the local team as Rutgers decided to ditch its Scarlet-ness and go with an all-black look on a hot day in Piscataway, NJ.

When I first saw these uniforms on ESPN’s famous Uni-Watch before the season began, I was very disappointed in the Scarlet Knights’ decision to become the Black Knights for a day. I was also concerned the players might pass out from heat exhaustion  because of the 85-degree temperatures throughout the Garden State on Saturday.

  • However, as the day turned to night and I started looking at more photos of the game (and probably because of how well Rutgers played) the uniforms grew on me. Guys like Rutgers’ best player Mohamed Sanu looked pretty cool in the uniforms, especially with the pink accents with the mouthguards.

I am usually not a fan of the matte finish on helmets, but over time I think it looks good depending on the circumstances. They seem to me that it would make the player’s head more hot because it looks like the surface of a road, but I guess it worked for Rutgers.

The only thing that bothered me about this uniform was the red Rs on the helmets. It was pretty obvious it was a decal, but I am glad they went with red instead of the usual white R on the helmets.

Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas looked pretty nifty in these uniforms on Thursday night. Photo by Getty Images

There were some other schools who went with black in their helmets and with that, we’ll start the quick hits:

  • Oregon went with these “Fighting Ducks” uniforms in its victory over Cal on Thursday night. These were new looks for the Ducks, but the matte finish on the black helmets and the black pants had been seen before this season, in a loss to LSU. Perhaps the best touch of this uniform was the ducks on the shoulders. It was a bit corny, but it was fun.
  • Oklahoma State wasn’t slowed at all by what must have been a hot day for them in black-on-black-on-orange uniforms in a romp of Kansas. I’m still waiting for them to go with their usual home uniforms once this season.
  • Northwestern kept the all-black trend going with their night loss to Michigan.
  • Arizona State looked like the old Arizona State with these yellow helmets and pants for a road game at Utah.

Week 5 College Football Review: What’s that say?

The pattern inside the numbers cause problems for South Carolina and the officials Saturday.

There was an event yesterday in the uniform world that I had never heard of happening before. If you watched the South Carolina-Auburn game Saturday, you might have noticed the Gamecocks helmets and pants looked different than normal, but their shirts were pretty much the same.

Well that comes from a decision made by the officials prior to the game. South Carolina was wearing their “Wounded Warriors” uniforms for Saturday’s showdown with Auburn, which it eventually lost, 16-13, in pretty dramatic fashion. The Gamecocks have gone to these uniforms in the past as have other teams.

Basically it is supposed to honor our armed forces by putting names like “Courage”, “Honor”, “Pride, and “Serve” on the back of the players’ jerseys. A very good idea in theory, although it lends itself to inevitable, “there’s a lot of guys with the same name on this team” jokes.

South Carolina has done this in the past, but the numbers have looked just the same as always.

Anyway, the names were not the problem Saturday, but rather the numbers. The patterns inside the number made it very difficult to read, and that is why officials told the Gamecocks to change back to their regular jerseys after coming out for warm-ups.

As a friend of mine with a history of working in athletic departments said, “It’s about time they started considering their sports information people.”

I completely agree with this. The point of a uniform is to identify what team you play for and who exactly you are. That’s why there are uniforms in the first place, to figure out which team is which just by sight, otherwise, there would be mass confusion in every single game.

Identifying the player is also very important to the uniform. While those of us watching on television can do that by reading the names on the back of the uniform (in most cases) those who are actually working the game (the officials and score keepers) rely on the numbers, and that is what caused the biggest problem on Saturday.

Illinois wide receiver Spencer Harris matched the orange end zone Saturday in this orange uniform. Photo by Associated Press

And with that, here’s your quick hits:

  • Illinois went with an orange look in their comeback victory over Northwestern. I think the look works pretty well since the rest of the field and the helmet has copious amounts of orange in it.
  • Stanford went with their alternate black uniforms. At first sight, I was not a huge fan of these uniforms, but after further review. They actually do look pretty nice. The red and black works for me.
  • Arizona State did a bad job Saturday after a nice look the week before. The white helmets with the red jersey and white pants, makes it look like a practice jersey.
  • It was interesting to see Michigan go back to the helmets it used to defeat Notre Dame in Week 2. I really like how the helmets have the numbers on them. They are not that noticeable and work well for me.
  • Air Force wore a nice uniform against Navy Saturday. I believe the color is supposed to look like the suit an Air Force member would wear. It’s nice.

Gray Power?

Here we have it, the first post from a contributor. This one comes from a good friend of mine, Alex, who can give a better perspective on the Oklahoma State uniform situation. He attended the school for two years for grad school. Here is his deeper view on the Cowboys’ recent uniform changes.

Oklahoma State receiver Michael Harrison helped the Cowboys begin their gray trend this season in the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. Photo by Associated Press

Before the 2006 NCAA football season, the University of Oregon unveiled its 384 different uniform combinations that would forever change college football.  Call it jealousy, or just an overwhelming desire to be the same as their peers (a character flaw that is prevalent in our society), but since then, other college football teams have decided the simple distinction of “home” and “road” uniforms were obsolete.  This has led to a rash of teams trying to outdo (see Arizona State) or out-weird (see Maryland) other teams.

That brings us to my alma mater, Oklahoma State, who, backed by seemingly unlimited funds from oil-tycoon-turned-wind-power-guru T. Boone Pickens, unveiled a uniform combination that, while not as egregious as Oregon’s, is still nonetheless perplexing.  Using the Oklahoma State Combo Creator, fans can choose between four sets of pants (gray, black, orange and white), four different jerseys (gray, black, orange and white), and three different helmet colors (black, orange and gray).  While some regard this as a way to put OSU on the map (as if an AP #5 ranking doesn’t do the trick), lost in the cornucopia of uni-combos is the idea that Oklahoma State (and arguably along with other teams), have lost their identity.

You don’t have to attend grad school in Stillwater to know that the town simply loves orange.  The color is as common as dandelions in the spring. At any and all OSU event, the cheer that is most common is simple: one side of the stadium yells “Orange!” while the other side attempts to outdo them by yelling back “Power!”.  Students are not encouraged but expected to wear orange to games, and wearing any other color, no matter what the weather, makes one stand out (and not in a good way).  So, what is curious to me (and to perhaps many other OSU fans) is why Oklahoma State’s uniforms, with all their national attention, a Top 5 ranking, and an offense that can seemingly score points even while sleep, has yet to feature orange in 2011.

Two seasons ago, Oklahoma State football debuted an all-black look for their Thursday night ESPN showdown with then-conference rival Colorado.  The black jerseys and pants, coupled with white helmets with the black “OSU” were met with mixed results in Stillwater, but looked neat nonetheless under the lights in front of a prime time audience.  But OSU followed the tradition of orange over white at home, and white over orange on the road that season, with the exception of their all orange look for Homecoming (which is, as advertised, the best Homecoming celebration in the country).  In 2010, OSU again donned the all-black getup for their yearly Thursday night game, this time against Texas A&M in a 38-35 thriller.  Despite their 2-0 record in the black, OSU stuck with its regular road home combination.  That is, until their game at Kansas, when they wore their road whites with black pants for the first time since 1994.

Justin Blackmon and Oklahoma State kept up their tradition of black on a Thursday night earlier this season against Arizona. It was slightly different from past years because of the orange numbering and lettering on the helmet. Photo by Getty Images

And thus, it started.  The idea that the orange and white simply was not good enough and that black and gray needed to take a more prominent role, giving birth to the highly questionable uniforms they sport in 2011.  Let’s review:  their opening game against UL-Layfette saw the debut of gray jerseys with white and pants and helmets.  Game two, on ESPN’s Thursday Night prime time slot, featured the return of the all black and the white helmets.  Their third game against Tulsa, played in the early hours of the morning thanks to Oklahoma’s signature tornado warnings (I actually survived a few when I was out there) saw the Fighting Gundys in white helmets and jerseys matched with black pants.  The gray helmets and pants, matched with white jerseys, made their debut in College Station last Saturday against A&M.

So, where’s the orange?  Sure it’s in the numbers and trims, but that still doesn’t mean it’s featured.  Even in what the Oklahoma press called Mike Gundy’s signature win, OSU’s signature color, orange, was hardly visible.

Sure, new jerseys are great, and they certainly create a buzz for a program, but at what cost?  A team’s mainstay is their uniforms, which in turn, helps to create their identity for fans, alums and a national audience.  Besides, a team doesn’t need all kinds crazy uniform combinations  to garner national attention.  Just look at these two teams.

Week 4 College Football Review: Cowboy Down

Oklahoma State cornerback Brodrick Brown helped the Cowboys rally in the second half on Saturday with this interception, but they sure looked bad doing it. Photo by Getty Images.

Stillwater, Okla., is a different sort of place for someone who has spent the vast majority of his life in the Northeast.

In two trips there, I have learned a few things, and here they are.

The state of Oklahoma is very flat; apparently using forks to eat barbecue and cake is the sign of a wuss; in life, I should “play the game,”; getting a first down is nearly as exciting as a touchdown; and chief among them … Orange Power.

The chant of “Orange Power” reverberates through the stands of Boone Pickens Stadium on most Saturdays in the fall. There are even shirts in the various gift shops, displaying this very phrase, and it all comes from the orange jerseys their beloved Cowboys wear for home games.

However, this season, it seems like Oklahoma State has abandoned that very concept with their uniforms.

The Cowboys did make a roaring comeback to defeat Texas A&M on the road in the game of the day yesterday. OK State could now be on their way to its first Big 12 title, but that doesn’t really matter here, let’s examine their uniforms.

Before the season started, Oklahoma State announced they would be introducing a new line of uniforms, complete with this uni-builder. While some of the combinations have their merit (mostly because they include orange), the gray-white-gray combination they went with Saturday was terrible.

Oklahoma State has seemed to totally abandon orange in their uniform scheme. Granted there was orange in the lettering of the helmet and in the numbers, but it’s not enough. The standard Oklahoma State uniform should have orange shirts for home games and orange pants for away games.

This season, the Cowboys have yet to wear orange of any sort in their first four games. The first game saw a gray jersey for a home game, the second, a black jersey for a Thursday night home game, the third, black pants for an away game and then yesterday’s monstrosity.

The results thus far have been more than productive, but I have to wonder what the chants of “Orange Power” sound like at Boone Pickens Stadium when the team has clearly abandoned this concept.

A few other teams made a splash in the uniform world on Saturday and here are your weekly quick hits:

Virginia Tech running back David Wilson looked like a member of the Cleveland Browns against Marshall on Saturday. Photo by Associated Press

  • Virginia Tech resembled the Cleveland Browns in their victory over Marshall. The Hokies went with this same look in the Orange Bowl last season. It’s a little jarring, but overall the look works.
  • Arizona State continued to change every week, but this week’s ensemble was more of a return to their usual color scheme. It certainly worked as they dominated USC for a huge Pac-12 victory.
  • Oregon went back to what could be considered their standard road uniforms of white shirt and green pants with a green helmet. The Ducks must have read this blog where I begged them to go back to a green helmet at some point, much appreciated.
  • West Virginia’s all-yellow look was fine, and it seems like the Mountaineers might be going with the yellow shirts as a permanent look since that is all they have worn at home so far this season. Just no yellow helmets please.
  • Staying in the Big East, I like what South Florida is doing this season. Saturday’s look was no exception. It was a good idea to go with black on gold pants and the gold helmet. Definitely looks better than the white helmet.
  • I sure was wrong about that Maryland game. Those yellow jerseys should be thrown away after the debacle against Temple. Bernard Pierce ran all over them.
  • Lastly, I’m going to miss these all-blue Boise State jerseys. Once they get into Mountain West conference play, they will not be able to wear these against the blue turf in Boise.