By Phil Hecken, with the one and only Jim Vilk
Every Sunday throughout the college football season, Uni Watch’s most fastidious, persnickety and seemingly achromatopsic uniform critic, Jim Vilk, brings us his “5 & 1,” a look at the “best” five (and one worst) uniform matchups of the week. Whether you agree or disagree with him, he does put in a tremendous effort, painstakingly reviewing photos from every NCAA FBS game played, in an attempt to find those matchups.
While the concept is, in and of itself, endearingly simple, we are sometimes left gape-jawed at his decisions. A team that scores the coveted Number One spot one week may not even garner a mention the following week, despite playing in what we feel is a very similar game or situation. Conversely, Jim will select a “worst” game many of us would feel “looks pretty damn good” while ignoring a seemingly horrendous matchup.
It’s begun to take on mythical proportions, this “mothervilker” of a game he plays. Unbeknownst to him (until now, of course), there is even a secret underground who will bet on his “best” pick, usually to be left headshakingly disappointed when the five games are ranked. Well … no more. I’ve asked Jim to let us into his kitchen for one day, to explore the depths of Vilk-land, to explain
just exactly what the hell he’s thinking what criteria he uses to come up with this list. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…The Mothervilker:
“How could Vilk not pick (insert good-looking college football team here) vs. (insert another good-looking school here) for best matchup of the week?” That’s a question we sometimes see on the discussion boards, and I’m sure it’s been repeated often in the minds of other readers. It’s a good question, too. Some weeks there are lots of great uniform matchups — so many that it’s hard to whittle them down to a Top 5 list, let alone pick a best one. In cases like these, it’s the little things that make a difference for me. Other factors can come into play, such as lighting (sometimes I’m not fond of all-white unis on a sunny day) and weather (not a big fan of black, but it looks great in the snow). The biggest factor, though, is how the visiting team’s unis look compared to the home team’s. There may be a game with two great uniforms, but if they don’t look good next to each other, it’s not a great matchup.
What I’d like to do, then, is give you an idea of my thinking as I prepare the 5 & 1 lists. I’m not trying to convert anyone who disagrees with my picks, nor am I trying to establish a set of rules for anyone crazy enough to look through hundreds of game photos on a Saturday evening. I just want to give you a little peek into my mind (hip waders not needed — it’s pretty shallow in there), and if some of you come away saying, “Ah, now I understand why he picked those games,” well, that’s just gravy.
For an example, we only need to go back to last weekend. Two schools with two great uniforms, Texas and Nebraska, played each other. Texas previously made it to number one when they played Oklahoma, so they were a good bet to make it again, right? Well, not only did I leave the Longhorns and Huskers out of the number one position, I surprised a few people by not putting them in the Top 5 at all. What was the difference? The quick answer is, not enough contrast. After the quality of the uniforms, the next thing I look for in a matchup is proper contrast — not too much, not too little, but just right.
When Texas plays at Nebraska, there’s an awful lot of white going on there. All-white unis are fine, but when the opponent has white helmets and pants, the colored jersey is kind of isolated. Compare that to last season, when the Huskers visited the Longhorns. Now there is some great contrast! The white is broken up by Nebraska’s red pants and Texas’ orange jerseys. That matchup would have made the list last week.
For another example, let’s go back to that Texas/Oklahoma game. Texas was in all white again, but Oklahoma’s crimson helmets and jerseys contrasted more than Nebraska’s unis did. Last year, this game made the Top 5, but it wasn’t number one. Again, contrast was the reason. The crimson helmets and orange jerseys on the respective unis didn’t stand out as strongly for me.
At the other end of the list, contrast comes into play when picking my worst matchup as well. If faced with more than one choice, I go for the one with either too much or too little of it. The most memorable example is one Phil would like to forget — when I picked Portland State vs. Oregon over Boise State vs. Wyoming. Had the Cowboys worn their usual home unis, it would have been two unis I didn’t like vs. two more unis I didn’t like. Wyoming surprised me instead with the imperfect but improved alternates. Not only do I kind of like those, they provide a real color palette special compared to the green vs. green we got from the Vikings and Ducks. It wasn’t enough to put them anywhere near the Top 5, but at least it kept the Broncos and Cowboys out of the cellar.
As I said before, I don’t expect everyone to agree with all my picks. The 5 & 1 is a subjective list, after all. At least now you have an idea of what to expect in future lists … assuming Phil doesn’t replace me for re-opening old wounds. Sorry, buddy.
Well, since you made the right pick for number one last weekend, I think I’ll keep you around, Jim.
And pick Iowa State v. Texas for #1 today, if you want to stay around. Ahem.
Anyway, there you have it — a glimpse into the mind of Jim Vilk. Most of us certainly don’t agree with him all the time (or even some of the time), but at least we’ve learned a tiny bit about the method behind the madness. We’ll all be looking forward to seeing if Jim practices tomorrow what he preached today.
¡Ah Día Feliz!
In what is fast becoming the feel good story for 2010, the Texas
Texases Rangers dethroned the defending World Series Champion New York Yankees down in Arlington last evening. And in a particularly good move, they wore the beautiful home whites.
The Yanks managed to keep Wonderboy in the park (by not pitching to him), but they couldn’t keep him down, as Josh Hamilton (feel good story number two) took home ALCS MVP honors. They even gave him a ginger ale shower. Why ginger ale? Hamilton is a recovering addict and out of repect, they chose the kiddy beverages. (They also pulled out the G-ale upon clinching the ALDS over Tampa) Classy move, Texas! Awesome, in fact.
Of course, the victors get the standard crappy ALCS champs caps, but what is interesting is the Rangers also received red ALCS champs shirts. Not bad, but when you consider the team hasn’t won a single game in the post season while sporting red (at least the Express had the good sense to wear the blue cap), it seemed kind of odd seeing them in the apparently unlucky color. They weren’t bad looking shirts … certainly better than the ones Ron wanted. (I KID, I KID).
Congratulations Texas! Now, on to San Francisco.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.
Catching up with the tweaks, but they keep coming in (which is good), so lots to get to today. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
You guys have been pretty great keeping to the ~50 word limit per team tweak, and it’s greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Now, on to today’s tweaks:
Starting off the show is Matt Malinoski, who has some cool concepts for four MLB teams: A’s, Bravos, the team from Cleveland, and Pads:
I have attached tweaks for four baseball clubs.
Padres: Using brown and gold as the team colors, I brought back the “bell” cap. I put the swinging friar on the sleeve, changed his robe to brown and put a white cincture in place of what looks like a belt to me. I used double gold/brown/gold piping on soutache and sleeves, along with three gold stripes on the stirrups. The home jersey has the “Padres” script from the 1940s minus the tail, and the road jersey has a block “San Diego” arch. The road uniform has a brown tint to it.
Braves: I prefer the look of the Braves unis from the 1940s and 1950s, so I wanted to see how they would look with the current cap. I prefer the zipper front because the piping is a little further apart underneath the “Braves” wordmark, and the wordmark gets pushed over too far to the left with a button front. (Look for a 1952 photo of Eddie Mathews and you’ll see what I mean). I love the dark tomahawk too. I did three versions, one with the Boston/Milwaukee chief, one with the Milwaukee/Atlanta “laughing brave”, and one without a patch.
Indians: I like the Indians uniforms from the late forties. I wanted to see how they would look with the current version of Chief Wahoo. I did a couple versions: one with the wishbone “C” cap with Wahoo on the sleeve, and one with Wahoo on the cap with a plain sleeve. I also tried making Wahoo’s skin tone like the original Wahoo, so that his skin wasn’t red. I have also done versions of these with Wahoo with a red skin tone.
Next up is Daniel DiGiovanni, who has a tweak for the Dallas Mavs:
Ever since the Mavs got new jerseys in 2001, I have hated that they have DALLAS on the front of their home jerseys … we know where you are from when you are playing at home! So I decided to photo shop and make their alternate Blue/Green Jerseys, white. It is so much better. I have always disliked when teams put their City/State name on their home jerseys, like the Texas Rangers also.
And closing down the tweak show today is James Nagasawa, who has a combination of old and new for the Seattle Seahawks:
I decided to do a new uni for my beloved Seahawks. I was not thrilled when they released the new logo in 2002. And when I had a chance to vote for the helmet I voted for the classic silver. This is my idea of what the Seahawks should look like when playing because I am sick of the monochrome. First the away jersey takes the new helmet adding silver with the top from 83-01 with the updated color scheme. I also took the socks from the 76-82 era. The home design is the same as the current with minor adjustments to the colors. Silver pants replace the Seahawk Blue pants, and I reversed the Seahawk Blue/Navy for the torso and sleeves. I hope you enjoy.
Another set of tweaks, concepts and revisions in the books. Check back tomorrow for more!
Trackin’ the Ducks
UW #1 Seahawks Fan Michael Princip has been tracking the Oregon Ducks and all of their 2,456 possible uniform combinations this season. He’ll be updating it after each game.
We usually have the Duck Tracker on Sundays, but that’s because the Ducks usually play on Saturday. But this week, in the Big Thursday game on ESPN, the Boys from Eugene put an absolute ass-whoopin’ on the hapless Bruins of UCLA, who gave new meaning to UCLA “stripes.”. In Paul’s column yesterday, he covered in detail how crappy UCLA’s new superhero costumes looked. But what he didn’t say was how great the Ducks looked. Which was, in a word, awesome.
Back after his own bye-week is our own Duck Tracker, Mike Princip, with his Duck Wrap, including a whole lot of great new things contained in the Tracker. Here’s Mike:
Sea of yellow, that’s what it was this past Thursday when the Ducks hosted UCLA and delivered to them a 60-13 thrashing, whilst donning their black and yellow. Last year they wore the same outfits against Washington State and had similar results, annihilating them 52-6. It’s safe to say we’ll probably see these outfits again next year, since they never wear the same uni combination twice in a season. That is of course only if they don’t end up going with another scheme entirely? Will we ever see the white helmets this year? They lost 2 out of the three games they’ve played in them last season, including the Rose Bowl, and that makes me think we won’t be seeing them this year? Add to that, they’ve got the carbon lids this year. Too bad, I really liked the white helmets, I feel it’s the ultra retro look. Hey, they did wear the white helmets last year against Utah and ended up with a win, and they looked amazing. Basically, switch out the carbon helmets they wore this year to the white and it’s the same exact outfit.
We’ve really accumulated some interesting uniform combinations thus far, and it’s really been a blast comparing the results, opponents, venue, and time with the uniform combinations of 2009 and 2010, now 7 games into this season. Noticing some trends in the mix, and it’s not as haphazard as some people would think when they choose their uniform for the week, or is it?
Included a little cut and past write-up about Autzen Stadium’s turf history, where I’ve attached relevant hyperlinks to this week’s equipment spec.
Once again, here is your 2010 Duck Tracker.
2010 Season Uni Tracking
Now that the 2010 Season has concluded it’s time for all of you who have tracked your team through the entire season to send me your final tweaks. When I have a few spare hours, I plan on compiling them and adding them to the Uni Watch Archives, to be a part of the permanent record.
So, if you’ve been doing your due diligence with your team, send me your end-of-season tracking reports, and I’ll post them as a “sub article” on the weekends. OK? OK! And I promise they’ll make it into the UW archives before the year is out. Please feel free to accompany your tracking with a write up, especially if your team had any interesting trends or patterns.
Today, we have Peter Ponce who this year tracked your 2010 American League Champion Texas Rangers. You picked a good year, Peter. I hope you enjoyed the game last night. Here’s Peter:
Here’s the spreadsheet I used to track the Rangers during the regular season.
I didn’t go into as much detail as some of the others, I focused on Win/Loss percentage while wearing the specific uni. So my sheets probably seem sparse compared to others.
No, thank you! Any other trackers out there? Send me your charts, graphs and spreadsheets.
That’s going to do it for this fine Saturday. Enjoy the football, and watch the Giants capture the NL pennant as well. See if YOU can guess the Mothervilker. It’s all good! See you tomorrow.
These modern “sleeves” … look like botched circumcision. — Roger Faso