Bowl review: Helmets like solar panels

LaMichael James and the rest of the Oregon Ducks probably gave Wisconsin fits with their extremely reflective helmets for the Rose Bowl. Photo by Getty Images

Now that we’ve had a week to reflect on the college football season after a dominant performance by the Alabama defense, we’ll take one last look at the uniforms for these special games.

It comes as no shock that I’ll lead off with Oregon and its very shiny helmets for the Rose Bowl. It’s a wonder Wisconsin did not complain it couldn’t see as the Ducks ran out in the Pasadena sun light wearing what more closely resembled solar paneling than a football helmet.

Overall, I thought the look was neat and innovative for even Oregon. The use of “liquid metal” for the helmets and facemasks was cool to see. It added another dimension to the beauty of the setting for the Rose Bowl.

It was also very cool to see the reflection of the field and the mountains surrounding the Rose Bowl whenever ESPN gave the audience a close-up view of the helmet.

Oregon’s helmets worked for the most part, but the one drawback was the helmet had virtually nothing to do with the uniform. I understand it would require a completely silver uniform for the Ducks that might have blinded the 100,000 in attendance, but it’s justa  pet peeve I’m airing here.

Wisconsin also brought a subtlety to the game with the helmets. If you look really close, you can see the pattern of a rose in the W of the Badgers’ helmets. It’s stuff like that, that makes the Rose Bowl great.

The game presented a contrast of style in both style of play and general style. It was neat.

There was plenty of other fashion statements made over the bowl season, and here are a few highlights in our final installment of quick hits for this season:

Virginia looked pretty gross when they took on Auburn in the Chick-fil-a Bowl and it showed in its performance on the field. Photo by Getty Images

  • Virginia went with a frighteningly bad look in a blowout loss to Auburn in the Chick-fil-a Bowl. I have no idea what the Cavaliers were going for. Maybe they thought since the game was being played on New Year’s Eve night, everybody would be too drunk to notice. Luckily for this blog, I work on Saturday nights so I noticed.
  • Oklahoma State went all-black in their Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. I still wish they would go with orange and white one time. This look made it seem like it was Halloween, not New Year’s.
  • Baylor more closely resembled the old New York Jets than the Baylor Bears in the Alamo Bowl, but I guess it helped them score a lot of points so that’s great.
  • Notre Dame wore names on the back of their jerseys for the Champs Sports Bowl so there’s that.

Week 11 College football review: Uniform games

Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd sported the Irish's new green look as Maryland's Trenton Hughes and the rest of the Terps didn't show much Maryland Pride. Photo by Associated Press

As the college football regular season begins to wind down, most of the games do not mean all that much to the national title picture.

As much as it pains me to say it, Notre Dame has participated in many of those over the past years, and Saturday night against Maryland was an example of that irrelevance (unless you’re into placing for the Champs Sports Bowl.)

Instead, this game was about the uniforms.

We had known for about a week the Irish would be wearing a Shamrock helmet with a different background than the helmets they wore against Michigan earlier this season. We also found out last Wednesday that Maryland would be going back to their Pride uniforms they wore earlier this season to defeat their only FBS school in Miami this season.

Clearly, most of that Maryland Pride has worn off for a 2-8 team, that got absolutely no lift from these special uniforms. In my humble opinion, special uniforms like these only work once a season, if even that often. When the Terps came out on the tunnel on Labor Day in those special uniforms, the home crowd got pumped up, and it helped Maryland pick up one of its two victories this season.

However, Saturday night’s game was more of a Notre Dame home game even though it was played in Maryland. The team is down and if these uniforms are used too often, they will have little to no effect on the team.

The same goes for the Irish who wore green uniforms last night. Wearing green at Notre Dame used to be a very rare and special occasion. Usually, this coach would not say anything about the uniforms until the team came out on the tunnel for the game. It was special.

After wearing green against Army last season, and again Saturday night, it’s no longer as special.

Besides the green, the helmets were a little offensive. First of all, with the reflection of the lights at FedEx Field, the helmets looked like golf balls. The facemask was also black instead of the usual gray for the Irish. That bothered me.

The look as a whole was seemingly very futuristic, a departure from what the Irish are usually all about.

Now, let’s move to our quick hits:

It was a tough night for Boise both on the field and in the uniform department. Photo by The Idaho Statesman

  • Boise State had some blinding orange alternates in an upset loss to TCU. The Broncos went with these all-orange uniforms before, but this time, they went with a white helmet to compliment it. They looked very strange, and obviously it didn’t help them in the loss.
  • Texas Tech went with a very patriotic uniform for Veterans Day. The stars and stripes on the helmets were a nice touch to go along with the camouflage on the shoulders.
  • Oregon’s uniforms were very interesting for their victory over Stanford. The helmets looked black from one angle, but when the lights hit it in a certain way, you could see the green. The Ducks also chose to have their names on the back of the jerseys in white so it takes ultra concentration to see. That’s weird.

BREAKING: Maryland Pride is back

Maryland will be going back to these court jester-like Maryland Pride uniforms against Notre Dame this weekend.

They’re baaaaaaaaack. Maryland will be making waves again in the uniform world this Saturday against Notre Dame. They broke these out first against Miami in the season opener. And they will make a comeback at FedEx Field this week.

The move was announced on coach Randy Edsall’s Twitter page Wednesday night.

Hide the women and children for this game. The Irish will also be wearing a new helmet as part of their Shamrock Series. It has a very strange background pattern and a larger shamrock than what was seen when the Irish took on Michigan in September. This is getting out of hand.

A new gold standard at Notre Dame

Notre Dame will upgrade its helmet for Saturday's showdown against rival USC.

For the second time this season, Notre Dame will make a change to their helmets for a big night game. When USC visits South Bend, Ind., for the first night game at Notre Dame Stadium since 1990, the Irish will be sporting a bit more shiny look.

After adding a shamrock to the side of the helmet in an epic loss to Michigan in Week 2, the Irish will try to look more like the famed golden dome on the Notre Dame campus with their helmets.

I am not sure if these helmets will be used for the rest of the season or if it is just for the USC game, but either way, the look is very nice. It seems like it is a permanent change, though.

It will be interesting to see how the helmet translates to television. Some of the small details might not be visible on television.

Here is a facebook gallery and a video the Notre Dame athletics department released.

End Zone Designs: Painting on the Field

The Super Bowl always does a good job of matching the importance of the game with good end zone designs.

Every player on the football field wants to reach the end zone. Those special ten yards on each side of the field create the most excitement of any game, and therefore, it should be no coincidence they look better than the rest of the field.

While there might be a few exceptions (Boise State and Eastern Washington), football fields stick to green to cover the 100 yards of the playing field, probably because that is the color of natural grass.

As it is with uniforms, it seems like college football has more freedom with end zone design than the NFL.  Two designs in particular that stand out to me are Tennessee and Maryland. The Vols have stuck with the same orange-and-white checkered pattern for many years now.

The pattern works very well for me. It goes away from the usual lettering that goes in an end zone. Everyone knows Tennessee is the home team, so it is a good move by the Volunteers to go outside the box with this.

The other cool feature of this end zone is the pattern does not cover all 10 yards of the space. The yard or so of green showing on all sides of the pattern adds a bit of classiness to the design.

Maryland takes its cues from Tennessee when it comes to their end zone. In similar fashion to their pride uniforms that got everyone’s attention, Maryland’s end zone pays homage to their state flag.

Bowl games are some of my favorite fields because each zone is totally different from the other. Some games like the famed Beef O’Brady’s Bowl decide to keepboring end zones telling everyone what city they are in, which is clearly necessary for those who have made the trip to support their school.

A few other collegiate end zones that stick out are Penn State, who uses a yellow goal line, which is nice. Notre Dame sticks with the stripes in the end zone, keeping with tradition. I’ll throw in Syracuse here too since I have a weakness for blue and orange and the Orange have gone with that since switching over to FieldTurf in the Carrier Dome.

When it comes to the NFL, there is not as much variety form year-to-year, but I will focus on the local teams here.

Since moving to MetLife Stadium (or New Meadowlands Stadium as it used to be known), the Jets and Giants have greatly improved their end zone designs. The move to natural grass for the 2000 season turned out to be a disaster in terms of keeping the grass lush and end zone design.

In the first year, both teams decided to paint the end zones at Giants Stadium, making for a good look, especially for the 2000 NFC Championship victory for the Giants. However, as time went on and even as Giants Stadium went to FieldTurf, the end zones got much more boring. Without any paint in the end zones, it looked like a preseason game for the entire season.

For the last few seasons at the old stadium, the Giants did paint the lettering in the end zones, but it still left much to be desired because of what the field used to look like with AstroTurf.

Now, with MetLife Stadium, the end zone have gone back to their exciting past, and I think we can all say we are glad to see it. They have even added a logo and conference logo at the ends which makes for a nice touch.

That’s all for today’s display of obsessiveness. We’ll take a bit of a break until this weekend’s football action, unless something exciting happens in the uniform world.