By Phil Hecken
Wither the Ducks? No, certainly not — not from a football standpoint, anyway. Their resounding victory over Kansas State (Chip’s last game?) cements their status as a new powerhouse on the block. But what about those uniforms? Are the Ducks done as the team that redefined the “uniform as art” (and I use that term loosely)?
For more than a decade now, the Ducks have been innovators and envelope-pushers, mixing random colors (or at least non-school colors) with “technological” improvements, creating a hype that is more famous (or at least as popular) as the football they actually play. And they’ve gotten quite good at both. In fact, I’d almost say the football talent has surpassed the outrageous costumes we’ve come to expect week in and week out.
No, the Ducks didn’t invent the “alternate” uniform, or the special game uniform or the shiny helmet — but they have made an art of never repeating a single uniform combination once during a 13 (or 14) game season. When you have only two official colors (“thunder” green and “lightning” yellow), that’s no easy feat. So over the years, the Ducks have introduced black and gray (setting off two of the more copied trends — BFBS and GFGS), and varying shades of green. Add in those extra “colors” and you can see how the Ducks can easily go a full season with no repeats. Just look at a decade or so of their traditional season-ending “Civil War” game against in-state rival Oregon State, and you’ll probably never see a uniform repeated.
If you’ve followed Uni Watch at all over the past four years, you know I feature a weekend segment during the college football season called the “Duck Tracker.” Three trackers (Mike Princip, Jake Hurley and Tim E. O’Brien) have dutifully tracked each and every costume the Ducks have worn since the 2009 season — this year’s Tracker, Tim E., will have a review of this year’s season following this section. He’ll go into excruciating detail in breaking down the combinations and elements of 2012 uniforms, and give you a “Top 13″ list of his favorite combinations.
And if you’ve followed Uni Watch for any of these past four years, you’ll know that I have drunk the Duck Kool Aid — swallowed it whole — it caught me hook, line and sinker (I had a few more clichés I’ll spare you from). I really can’t explain it (actually, I tried to broach it, years ago), but I’ve both secretly and outwardly loved the Duck uni-shenanigans for years. It actually goes against almost every fiber in my body to do so, since I generally like conservative uniform design, and I like consistency. But the Ducks have been fun, my guilty uni pleasure for years — the ONE team I not only enjoyed doing their thing — the ONLY team I’d ever accept doing it. Selfish you say? Maybe so, but when everyone does something unique, it’s not unique anymore, and it ruins it for everyone, including the ones who “invented” it. It’s kind of becoming that way for me with the Ducks — and it’s actually the Ducks who are doing it on their own.
To wit: 2012 started out so positively, on such a gorgeous note, with such a wonderful uniform (and in school colors, no less!), I was ecstatic. Week 2 was almost as good — that gray/yellow/gray is a glorious look. But, like all good things — it wouldn’t last. Indeed, the boys from Eugene quickly fell into dreary, drab patterns, or odd (‘green’/white gray, green/white/black, yellow/green/black) combinations. Sure, there were a few highlights (love the all white look), and some beauties thrown in — but even one of their previous “best” (non-school color) looks, the “Ninja Duck” couldn’t be pulled off because they don’t have a black helmet. Not that they need one, mind you. But with 3,245 possible combinations, and the wearing of black tops and pants, you’d think they’d incorporate a black hat.
So, as the season wore on, I still looked forward to asking “what will the Ducks wear this weekend?” and hoped they’d surprise me with a throwback (like they did a couple years ago), but it didn’t come. I kept hoping for an “all green” (the bright green — not that drab olive thing) or maybe an all yellow. I heard rumors they’d matchup against KSU in something like this, but it didn’t happen. No, they let me down again, instead trotting out looking like this. It’s just not doing it for me anymore.
In a climate where (it seems like) a third of the schools trot out some new uniform gimmick each week, it’s becoming less and less enjoyable to watch a game — let alone know who’s playing — these days. The “gimmick” that was for years absolutely OWNED by the Ducks isn’t as much fun anymore — and certainly less so for the Duck-watcher. It’s now becoming played out — and with UO winning games (and recruits) on the field, maybe they won’t need the gimmicks anymore. But if they stop with those, and stop winning, then what will they do? As long as Uncle Phil’s money and influence is still around, I won’t bet against them doing what got them to where they are. I just wish they hadn’t hooked me on the uni-drug in the first place. Withdrawal will be a bitch.
Wither the Ducks? Not likely — but I can’t say I’m that much of a fan anymore. I’ll finally watch them more for their football than for their unis.
That can’t be too bad a thing, can it?
I now turn the rest of this over to Tim E. O’Brien, who’ll take you through the Tracking he’s been doing all season, capped by a list of his best-to-worst uni combos.
Uni Analysis: Tracking the Ducks
By Tim E. O’Brien
The unique challenge with Oregon is the fact that the Ducks wore 16 unique elements this season not including shoes socks and gloves. Conservative teams like Indiana only have five elements. More common place, teams like Northwestern made a few changes over the season, but only have 10 elements. Sixteen is close to tops in the nation this season (though, I believe Maryland led the nation with 19 elements).
Enough talk, let’s take a look at the elements and see how they fared this season:
Yellow Helmet: 3-0 52.3 PFPG 16.3 PAPG
These are by far my favorite helmets the Ducks wore this season. They aren’t their most successful offensively or defensively, but they were undefeated (this is a theme for most elements…).
Carbon Fiber Helmet: 3-1 42.3 PFPG 19.3 PAPG
As far as design is concerned, this isn’t a bad helmet. As far as record and offensive production are concerned, this is the worst helmet Oregon wore. Due to the loss and the use of it in four uniform combinations, expect to see little of it in 2013.
Green Helmet: 4-0 52 PFPG 18.5 PAPG
I’m not a fan of this helmet, it’s my second to last favorite helmet this season, but the Ducks had great success in it, including winning the Fiesta Bowl. Tough to argue with success.
“Black”/Rose Bowl Helmet: 1-0 49 PFPG 0 PAPG
This is my least favorite helmet. Especially when you compare this to the white and yellow helmets, the Rose Bowl lid looks like a bad joke. The worst part of the joke is that Oregon, HGI and Nike refer to this helmet as “black”. Yeah, ok…
White Helmet: 1-0 62 PFPG 51 PAPG
A really nice helmet, a really great game. Expect to see more of this in 2013. I look forward to that.
Fighting Ducks Jersey: 2-0 54.5 PFPG 27.5 PAPG
Best. Jerseys. Ever. These might be my favorite Oregon anything ever. There’s so much right with these and so little wrong.
Yellow Jersey: 1-0 42 PFPG 25 PAPG
Really solid jersey, unfortunate they only used them once. Expect black, white and/or green to bookend this jersey in 2013 (Who knows, maybe Phil’ll get his wish and they’ll even break out this look next year).
Green Jersey: 2-0 56 PFPG 7 PAPG
Originally broken out for the Rose Bowl, these jerseys have been nothing short of dominant. Three and oh, 14 points allowed in the regular season and a BCS bowl win (and the Grandaddy at that!). That’s success.
White (Iridescent Wings) Jersey: 3-0 48.3 PFPG 20 PAPG
A BCS bowl was won in this jersey as well.
White (Gray Wings) Jersey: 3-0 51 PFPG 32 PAPG
A second white jersey isn’t new for the Ducks (god forbid they play 5 games in the same jersey…), but the differences between these two jerseys are so slight it’s easy to forget that they’re different. The Irridescent wings jersey’s wings are nice, these numbers are nicer. Combine those aspects into one and then come up with a yellow or black heavy road jersey for 2013, please.
Black Jersey: 1-1 42 PFPG 15.5 PAPG
When I first saw this jersey, I was unimpressed. The Colorado and Stanford games changed that opinion. What a great jersey that can be paired with almost any helmet. Unfortunately, the Ducks lost in this, so its success is now in doubt.
Gray Pants: 4-1 42.6 PFPG 20.6 PAPG
The Gray pants work nicely with a lot of what the Ducks wore in 2012 thanks to gray accents and multiple gray/silver/mirror helmet elements. The Ducks may have worn these pants one time too many though (Really, Oregon? One pair of pants in five games? What are you, Penn State?).
Black Pants: 4-0 57.5 PFPG 20.8 PAPG
A Great offensive output and a decent defensive effort, but I think these black pants have pretty much run their course – at least they have in my book. #GetARealBlackHelmet
White Pants: 1-0 62 PFPG 51 PAPG
Only worn once – at USC – expect them, and the the white helmets, to make more appearances next season.
Green Pants: 1-0 35 PFPG 17 PAPG
Not seen since the Rose Bowl, the green pants are nothing but BCS winners. If the Ducks are back in a BCS bowl next year, the should wear these again (though I like the rumored Fighting Ducks green pants, better).
And, finally: If you recall, before the season, Oregon put out a schedule instructing fans what to wear. Let’s take a look at how faithful Oregon was to the schedge:
Not too shabby. The biggest qualm I have is with the all white uniform worn against USC. They told fans to wear yellow, but yellow only appeared on the number trim. I would’ve preferred they told the fans to wear green (or white, but that doesn’t appear to be an option…). Beside that, they did much better than last year.
Now I’m already excited for tracking in 2013. College football is only eight months away people!
1. Arkansas State – How can you not think these are the best? School colors, athletic golds, bright greens, shoulder wings that a visible but also fade into the noise from a distance: These are the clear winners.
2. Oregon State – This was not only the second best uniform, it was the best color match up. Gorgeous game. Basically the road version of the Arkansas State game, this is the clear number two in my book.
3. Fresno State – Oregon looked pretty damn good against the ‘State’ schools this season. The yellow and gray look has always been a Duck favorite of mine and this particular yellow jersey seems built for the black and gray elements.
4. Stanford – Looked great, played not so great. Once again, this jersey seemed to be built to work with this helmet and pants. Just an awesome set.
5. Washington – The yellow helmet and Fighting Duck jersey look so good together, they could be wearing blue pants and they’d still make the top five.
6. ASU – Tantamount to a road version the Fresno State set, the gray/white gray wings/gray looked amazing. Just look at that tunnel shot… Too much good stuff.
7. USC – The all white is a great look, a classic Duck look and something I had originally ranked in the top five, but since so many schools stormtroop these days, the novelty of going mono-white has waned in my book.
8. Colorado – This set would be infinitely better had they just had a legitimately black helmet.
9. Arizona – This is sort of the transition from the ‘meh’ to the bad. The Zona game could’ve used a real black helmet or even the Fighting Duck jersey.
10. Kansas State – Not bad, per say, but underwhelming. The Green Rose Bowl pants came back, so they’re 2-0 in BCS games. So, yeah…
11. Cal – No coherence, no theme (unless the theme is bad).
12. Tennessee Tech – The gray and the muted green just are such a drab combo, and that helmet? Blah. Tennessee Tech’s uniforms didn’t help.
13. Wazzu – Same problem as Tennessee Tech, just swap in a road jersey. Oh, and gray is a Wazzu school color.
Thanks, Tim. And a big tip of the cap to you, sir, for your fine work as my 2012 Duck Tracker. It was a fun ride and the Duck Tracker will certainly be back next season. I can’t give up on them and their uni machinations this easily.
Last year, Rick Pearson took us “back in time” to bring us his look at the featured television college football match-up from 50 years ago. (If you’re not familiar with it, this was the inaugural post of “50 Years Ago” from last year — after that, it became a recurring feature on UW for the remainder of the season). Last year, Rick looked at the 1961 season, and fortunately for us, he “uni tracked” the games from 1962 as well, documenting the game via his “kid cards”. Each week this fall, he’ll do the same, again.
We conclude today and a somewhat sad note, since this is the LAST of the “50 Years Ago” feature. I’ll let Ricko explain below:
The then-traditional end of the football season (pro AND college) from Mobile, Ala…Uni-wise, not much to talk about other than the players’ helmets being painted to match the uniforms…Johnny Baker played linebacker for the Oilers for a few years, then one for the Chargers. Also, these days he’s Lance Berkman’s father-in-law…Al Snyder caught 1 pass for 12 yards for the Boston Patriots in ’64 and none for the Baltimore Colts in ’66.
This marks the end of the road for “50 Years Ago”. I didn’t do Kid Cards in ’63. By then I was a senior in high school. Had a girlfriend and everything (a cheerleader, even). I’m pleased that after all these years I found people who enjoyed them and appreciated them, and to whom they meant something. I thank you for all the compliments and kind words over the past two seasons. And now I’ll put the little metal dark green filing box back in the drawer. Sic transit gloria mundi (overstatement R us)
Thanks Rick! Great job with that as always. And a tremendous job with this ALL SEASON LONG! Readers, please give a virtual standing ovation (and lots of kudos down below) to Mr. Pearson for his tremendous efforts on “FYA” these past two years. You can put the cards back in the drawer, Rick, but we’re not done with your “kid cards” yet. Not by a long shot.
And give a quick (or long) look back at the season long kid cards/images that made up “50 Years Ago — 1962-2012.”
Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. Marshall, III. For many of us, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but a harmless one — a reflection of our times. Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays. It’s an endearingly simple concept — no matter where you work (or even if you don’t) — break out a fresh pair of rups to compliment (or clash with) your Friday attire.
Comrade is back after his cornmas holiday, ready to award a fresh, shiny, new pair of UW rups, and to give you a new look at his selections. So, lets see what we had over the past couple weeks:
Jason Bernard (I):
Skipper & Shipwreck:
Christmas ho-ho-hose. Merry Christmas, comrades.
Phil & Robert:
I know they aren’t true stirrups but 2 yr old Everett was rocking his Elmo stockings this AM.
John K (I):
Still celebrating the holidays here, so went with the classic Cardinals look. If the North Pole Nine wore red, the ‘rups might look something like this. Happy New Year to all,
R. Scott Rogers:
In honor of Congress gathering to count the Electoral College’s vote for president Friday, I got my Whig on with these buff-and-blue Cal sox.
Makes me think I need black-and-white rups to represent the Federalists too.
John K (II):
I’m wearing the classsic ’70s Pirates look for the first Stirrup Friday of the new year. I have always liked these ‘rups, and over black socks it makes for a very good “stealth” StiFri when (like today) I have meetings for work with folks who may not appreciate the finer points of the Movement.
I first got these a few years ago to show support when one of my sons was on the Pirates in little league. Sadly, I had to stop wearing them to games when the team seemed to do worse on days when I did. I was trying to ignore the apparent connection, but could not when even my wife commented on a possible jinx.
Jason Bernard (II) & Jennifer Sweet Bernard:
Shipwreck & Skipper:
2013 Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club Jump
Air Temp: 31
Wind Chill: 24
Water Temp: 36
Stirrups: ’29 Braves
Happy New Year from Flipper and Mellon!
Happy Friday! Today’s stirrups are my favorite vintage stirrups. They are wool so I can only wear them when it is cold.
And that ends today’s look at Stirrup Friday — all of you who participate, send me your pics and a brief (~50 words) description of their relevance, and I’ll run ‘em here on Saturday (and sometimes Sunday too!). Be sure to visit Robert’s House of Hose for news on rups, or click here for available selections.
And now a few words from the leader of the Stirrup Nation, Comrade Robert Marshall. Comrade?
I trust all comrades had a Merry Christmas with their lil cadre, and are enjoying the new year, so let’s get right to it. There will be a “new” selection next week, but I am also looking to hear what you would like to have come back, or what new colours and teams you would like to see featured. So feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for this weeks Uni Watch stirrup contest winner, it was an easy choice, Jason Bernard. I mean look at this melon head getting ready to jump in the icy river in stirrups all polar bear like. Clearly I have a new hero after seeing this. Alright comrades, I still have a half dozen or so of these to give away, so let’s see who can top this one for next week, or even come close to it.
from each according his stirrvp, to each according his strype.
When last we checked, Skipper had gone on a six bowl winning streak, and Shipwreck was on a tremendous run himself, and the wreck (12-7) had a one game lead on Skipper (11-8). With a ton of bowls this week, we’ll keep the rundowns short:
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Both boys had NC State, who wore all white versus the black-gold-black Commodores of Vandy. The game didn’t look bad, per se, but Vanderbilt was the superior team (winning 38-24), even if their uni was inferior. Shipwreck 12-8; Skipper 11-9
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Due to some type of quirk, GT, who always wears white at home, was forced to wear blue for the Sun Bowl. And while their home look is awful, the blue jersey is worse. Clearly the uni gods were asleep at the switch, since the worst-dressed team (GT) won. In a rout — 21-7 — in a game that was not as close as the score (USC were 10 point faves). Ouch. Both guys took USC, looking as bad as the Vegas oddsmakers. Shipwreck 12-9; Skipper 11-10
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Ah, color vs. color! The Golden Hurricane of Tulsa went white/blue/white, facing off against crimson/crimson/gold
USC Iowa State. Early, it looked like ISU would romp, but the Hurricane staged a big comeback, and taking the game 31-17. Perhaps Shipwreck knew of the special caps Tulsa would break out, in an apparent offering to the uni gods, or perhaps he just got lucky. Either way, Tulsa was better. Shipwreck 13-9; Skipper 11-11
Chick-fil-a Bowl: We knew going in this was going to be a good looking game, with LSU and Clemson hooking up. What we didn’t know is that LSU would get new unis, with almost full UCLA stripes and narrower number fonts. Skipper called the game a uni tossup going in, but took the SEC, while the wreck loved him some orange and purple. Wreck was right. In a great game that Clemson won on a last-second field goal (25-24) Wreck widened his lead. Shipwreck 14-9; Skipper 11-12
Heart of Dallas Bowl: The New Year’s Day games kicked off with 16.5 point favorite Okie State dressed in head-to-toe black against the Purdue Boilermakers, nicely contrasting in gold/white/white. The uni gods may have preferred a bit more orange from OSU, but no matter, the swarming defense and lightning-strike offense more than made up for the spread. Skipper needed this one and got it, with a 58-14 victory by OSU. Shipwreck 14-10; Skipper 12-12
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: NU vs. MSU would feature Northwestern in black/purple/black (with a new matte black helmet), hoping to end what seemed like a 100-year bowl win drought (actually it was only 64) against Mississippi State, who themselves went with a maroon matte helmet, plus their snow bowl tops & gray pants. NU came ready to rumble, which should have been obvious, given the “W.I.N.” on the helmet bumper. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the trick. NU won by two scores, 34-20, and shipper topped skipper. Shipwreck 15-10; Skipper 12-13
Capital One Bowl: Both lads had the Dawgs in this matchup of Georgia vs. Nebraska, and the game was a beaut, at least for UGa fans. But it was also special because there were no special hats, no gimmicky unis, no nothin’, except for a good, old fashioned beatdown by the men in silver britches, 45-31, easily covering the 10 points Georgia was giving up. Shipwreck 16-10; Skipper 13-13
Outback Bowl: With a matchup of South Carolina and Michigan, there was the potential for much uni shenanigans. And the teams didn’t disappoint. The Wolverines came out in new matte helmets and tops — the jerseys featuring blue yokes and outlined maize numbers, while the Gamecocks came out in white over all-crimson (and some tiny numbers on the uni backs). Even if some Michiganders didn’t want to wear the matte hats, they were clearly the better looking team. Yes, they were. The ‘cocks may have won (33-28), they didn’t cover the 5.5 point spread, and Skipper picked up one on Wreck. Shipwreck 16-11; Skipper 14-13
Rose Bowl: Another game where no uni shenanigans would take place — although — in an interesting quirk, Stanford took all pride stickers (axes) off of their helmets for the game, and Wisconsin broke out the rarely seen red pants. It was a great game, and fairly close throughout, but Stanford (giving 6.5) could only muster a 20-14 win. Damn the hook. Both Skipper & Shipwreck lost by that. Shipwreck 16-12; Skipper 14-14
Discover Orange Bowl: This game, between Florida State and Northern Illinois, was actually close for 3 quarters, until a questionable fumble call turned into a Seminole rout. FSU looked divine in their garnet and gold, pleasing the uni gods to no end, while NIU, well, they got some fancy new adidas techfit jerseys whose fonts were supposed to mimic their helmet font logo. They also had some bright red pants. It wasn’t nearly enough. FSU cruised 31-10, a victory for both boys. Shipwreck 17-12; Skipper 15-14
Allstate Sugar Bowl: In somewhat of a surprise, the Florida Gators broke out orange pants with blue tops for the first time since 1999, when, perhaps ominously, they lost. It is a gorgeous look (the whole game was eye candy), but, unfortunately, not a winning one. The Gators were absolutely smoked by all-white Louisville. Even though the score seemed close at 33-23, the only thing Florida did was play chippy and stupid. Uni gods don’t like dirty play, and it showed. The Cardinals were actually 14 point dogs, but they didn’t play like it. The wreck and skips got beatdown in the Big Easy too. Shipwreck 17-13; Skipper 15-15
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Going in, we knew which team would be better attired, but Shipwreck threw Skipper a curve ball by saying that team would be the Ducks. Really, wreck? Well, the uni gods must have thought so, because the boys from the U of O put a hurtin’ on the Wildcats, easily cruising to a 35-17 win, covering the 9.5 point spread. Shipwreck 18-13; Skipper 15-16
AT&T Cotton Bowl: This round saw Shipwreck increase his lead, and the final game of the matchup had Shipper and Skipper on opposite sides of the uni-coin. Skipper took Texas aTm, resplendent in all white, while the Wreck took the also beautifully dressed Sooners. It was a gorgeous game (especially if you were a 12th man), where Johnny Football took charge and showed any remaining doubters why he was worthy of the hardware. It was a blowout, with the Aggies winning 41-13. Shipwreck 18-14; Skipper 16-16.
There you have it kids — and with only three more games remaining…the math isn’t in Skipper’s favor. BBVA Compass Bowl today, GoDaddy.com tomorrow, and then the BCS National Championship on Monday night. Can Skipper pull off the miracle comeback, or will Shipper be the Champ and Skips the Chimp of the UW bowl pick ‘em? Stay tuned–it’s almost over.
And that’s about all for today folks. We’re almost done with the college football season, but the pros begin their playoff runs today. The Bengals and Texans kick things off at 4:30 pm (ET) followed by the night cap featuring the Vikings and Packers at 8:00. (And there’s also that BBVA Compass Bowl at 1:00 pm with Ole Miss and Pittsburgh squaring off, just in case there wasn’t enough football for you on the docket). Enjoy them all.
Tomorrow I’ll have concepts, colorizations and the announcement of another Uni Watch design contest. It’s a bit different than you’re used to, but it should be fun. Make sure to check back then.
“Sometime since the 1980s, has there been an NCAA rule change that explicitly calls for all players to have the same helmet? I’m almost thinking there has to be, otherwise a certain university in the Pacific Northwest would seem to be the perfect candidate to exploit it.”