By Phil Hecken
It’s that time of year again — college football is about to start and we get rankings for the conferences (that one there, by UW friend Andrew Lind places Alabama atop the SEC, as they should be) — and even UW reader and friend Clint Richardson, who you’ll be hearing from momentarily, has ranked the Big XII and the SEC.
I’ve done rankings of NCAAFB in the past (waaaaaay back in I think 2010 or 2011 with Jim Vilk), and I had thought about revisiting the topic myself, until I saw Clint had already gotten underway with his rankings. Since it’s a highly subjective exercise at best, I figured I’d tap Clint and let him do a ranking list (which we can then all debate).
If you’re not familiar with Clint, he’s an Auburn student, and has worked with me on several pieces (that one on the Iron Bowl), and also had a really nice collection of old Auburn program covers. So, when Clint started doing his rankings, I figured I’d ask if he wanted to give his for Uni Watch (knowing fully he’d probably put Auburn at #1). He didn’t disappoint. So, as we look ahead to the College Football season, here’s Clint with his (and only his) ranking of the Top 25 uniforms in NCAAFB:
Ranking the NCAA Uniforms
by Clint Richardson
We always hear that the off-seasons are very slow for everyone involved. Well, yea, but it’s pretty slow for the uniform guys as well. Now try being the Auburn uniform guy. Yea, I kinda asked for that when I started an Auburn uniform site, so I can’t complain too much. Recently on my site, I started a new series in which I rank the uniforms by conference, obviously starting with the SEC. My Auburn bias (lifelong fan, current Auburn U student, AU uni blogger – yea, I’m pretty biased, not going to deny that) stirred up some controversy with a few readers for having Auburn ranked number one in the SEC. And I’ll always stand by that. I was soon asked by a reader if I was going to compile a Top 25 Uniform ranking or just continue with the conference-by-conference rankings.
I had always planned for the latter of the two, but Phil ultimately offered up the opportunity to write a piece for Uni Watch continuing and expanding the series on a bigger platform. So, rather than repeat myself on two different websites, I’ve come to you guys today with a Top 25 Uniforms in College Football Ranking.
Before I get started, I want to make something clear. Many people didn’t understand this on my site because I presume they didn’t read this part and just jumped to the rankings when they read the title. I don’t claim for my opinion to be correct, of the law, or the go-to list for uniform rankings. Many people do these things, especially during the off-season. These are simply my thoughts and opinions on uniforms from recent years. I may forget a team or a certain uniform or rank them differently than you would. That’s fine! I always enjoy talking to other people about their uniform opinions. I enjoy hearing their reasoning behind whether or not they like or dislike a certain uniform. I’m really not worried about being attacked by guys on here like in the twitterverse, but just thought I’d make that clear beforehand.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the rankings. As far as criteria goes, I don’t really have one other than what looks good in my eyes versus what doesn’t. I don’t like to see a ranking on different uniform aspects (like the recent NFL.com ranking in which one-off alternates and individual helmets were ranked amongst full sets), so for the most part this ranking will be a team’s entire set. This makes it easier for teams like Oregon State, for which I think look wonderful in all three uniforms they wore last year, but also makes it tougher for great looking teams like Tennessee, who wore that awful “Smokey” grey alt last year.
1. Auburn Tigers – “Of course the Auburn fan ranked Auburn number one! He’s completely biased here!” Yea, I know. Don’t beat that dead horse. But seriously, I just love this look. The orange and blue compliment so well. The traditional striping is amazing. I think one of the best things a uniform has going for it is when there isn’t much that can be done to upgrade them. I’ve seen so many Auburn concepts over the years, and very few, if any, I actually think would look good, let alone be plausible to hit the field any time soon. We’ll save the striping issue for another day, please.
2. Oregon State – I know many of you guys will completely disagree with me here, but I LOVE the Beavers recent rebrand! I love that all three helmets are similar, yet different. I love the painted facemask. I love it so much that I just recently finished customizing my own version of the white lid! I do think the all-orange look was a bit much, but I was still a fan. I’m curious to see how well the mix and matching works for them this season.
3. Navy’s alternates – Like I said before, I’m not into ranking certain aspects of the uniform. But if I was, Navy’s alternate helmets from a few years ago would certainly be number one. That is a thing of beauty. “If you aren’t into ranking things like this, why did you just rank a one-off and a helmet so high?” Well, with Navy never being a top-tier team, we don’t really get to see their usual uniforms so much. With the Army-Navy game being the one time many people actually see Navy play, I think it fits pretty well. I really did like the uniforms that they wore the past two years to go along with the helmet. I hope they keep this helmet with the transition to UnderArmour.
4. Alabama – I had Alabama ranked #2 in my SEC rankings on my site, and a few people replied saying they would have had them ranked lower. I’m not sure if that is just because they hated Alabama so much or just thought different teams had a better look. But I’m a sucker for traditional uniforms. And I always love to watch the Iron Bowl (especially in Jordan-Hare Stadium) and see the navy blue versus the crimson red on the luscious green field. If only we could return to playing the greatest rivalry in a color on color matchup. That would be the #1 looking game every season.
5. Texas – It’s easy to forget the Longhorns with their recent down seasons in football. But I’ll always love the simple look of Texas’s uniforms. I loved when they recently added the helmet numbers for a few games (or the whole year, I forget) which made the whole look that much better.
6. Florida – Orange and blue? Stripes? Tradition? Not Auburn this time. The SEC actually has many teams that have looked wonderful over the seasons. And Florida is no exception. The Gators have always looked great, but a few minor changes over the past year or two haven’t worked well for me. It’s probably that and their performance on the field as well that have knocked them a little lower than they probably should be.
7. LSU – SEC bias? Possibly. Wonderful uniforms on the Bayou? Absolutely. The LSU Tigers are always a great looking team. Heck, they do UCLA stripes better than UCLA does. LSU is one team that can make a game look great no matter who they match up against. And that’s possibly just that they always wear their white uniforms, but it doesn’t really matter. They look great.
8. Oregon – I know the country is split right down the middle on Oregon. Most of my Auburn twitter followers despise their look. But I actually enjoy seeing what they roll out each week. It’s enjoyable. And I think that’s a huge part of the game they and Nike play. Despite the whole “they don’t wear true school colors” debate, I’m actually fine with that with the Ducks. They always look good in what they break out. Of course, some combinations are better than others, that’s always going to happen. But overall, I like the Oregon Fighting Ducks.
9. Arizona State – I never thought Arizona State had an awful look before their recent rebrand, but it wasn’t a wonderful one either. But when they revealed the new pitchfork uniforms, I fell in love. It’s been real tough for ASU and Nike to roll out something that I don’t like. I think the over-sized pitchfork is cool, but it’s something that gets old for me pretty quickly, sadly.
10. Michigan State – The Spartans of East Lansing have had their great, simple, clean look for a few years now, and I’ve always enjoyed watching them. Not sure exactly what it is, but Michigan State has just looked so great on the field lately. Especially in the Rose Bowl.
11. Penn State – Like I’ve said before, I enjoy and understand tradition as well as anyone else. And Penn State is about as plain and traditional as uniforms get. I’m not anti-change either, and I actually hope that Penn State adds the numbers or the great lion-head logo to the helmet.
12. Northwestern – When UnderArmour originally revealed these uniforms last year, I was on the fence. I didn’t think the chest stripes would work very well on the field. But thankfully they worked pretty well. Just hate that the purple jerseys have a black stripe; they should be white clearly. But I enjoyed seeing a smaller tiered school get something a bit off the wall and it actually work. For once, UnderArmour’s off-the-wall thinking in regards to uniform design paid off. Although I must say I do hate some of the alternates.
13. Georgia – Georgia would easily have been a top 10 team if it weren’t for the rounded number font that they and Nike switched to last year. The block font fit them so much better. But they still make for a good uniform match-up against much of the SEC.
14. Tennessee – Here’s a prime example of a team looking great but the manufacturer all but completely ruining it. The UT orange looks great on a green playing surface and also pairs well with many other SEC teams. Sadly, adidas’s “tire tread” template hurts their look for me. And then the “Smokey” grey alts last year looked awful, especially paired with the typical white helmet. Why not go all out and give them a new helmet if you’re going to change a program like Tennessee’s uniforms, even for one game? Thankfully they only have another year to go with adidas and then we’ll see if Nike can do them justice. On my SEC rankings I placed UT down low because of the template and alternate, but here I’m just going to throw those out and go solely on the traditional uniform designs.
15. Virginia Tech – Oh Virginia Tech. You have such a great default look. Quit trying to mess with it. Stripes are good guys. Leave them. And please, quit with the stupid alternate stuff. Especially with things that only people that have visited campus would even understand. Thank you.
16. California – Another team recently re-designed by Nike. Another team that just looks clean every time they hit the field. After a few years of some odd templatic designs, I’m glad to see something new like these. Just wish they’d fix the collar outline thing.
17. Michigan – How can you not like the maize and navy winged helmets in the Big House? Classics. And I’m probably in the minority here, but I actually enjoyed some of the alternates they wore a few years ago. I kinda wish they’d wear some of them a bit more to be honest.
18. Utah State – I’ll be honest, I
never really knew a lot knew nothing about Utah State until they came to Auburn in 2011 for the season opener and almost put out the win. Many Auburn fans ultimately adopted Utah State and Gary Anderson and became fans. And just two years later, Nike gave the Aggies some new uniforms, which I like, being very clean. I like how their helmets fit well with the contrasting jerseys.
19. UCLA – Here’s another team that has a wonderful look just completely ruined by adidas. Yea, I’m no fan of the three stripes guys if you can’t tell yet. The UCLA uniforms are always a classic look, and the blue and gold have always looked great paired together. Sadly the “tire tread” template and the LA Steel alternates have really hurt their look in my eyes.
20. Oklahoma – Going along the lines of UCLA, I always thought Oklahoma has had a wonderful uniform. I’m not sure what got into these guys or Nike and think “Ya know, we NEED one of those different alternate uniforms!” Really, c’mon guys. Teams like Texas and Oklahoma do not need these.
21. Oklahoma State – I sometimes see Okie State as the tamer southern version of Oregon, as Nike likes to send a good bit of different uniform aspects down south and allow the Cowboys to mix and match to their pleasing. Some of their combos look amazing while some, well, don’t. Just hope that they continue to mix and match well in the future.
22. San Diego State – I love stripes. Sue me. And SDSU looks great with stripes. The UCLA stripes look a lot better than the piping on the old uniforms, and somehow SDSU still made those look good. Must’ve been the helmets.
23. Minnesota – Well, yea, I like the clean uniforms. And Minnesota certainly looks clean in their new uniforms. And I’m not a big matte helmet fan, but the Golden Gophers make theirs look good. And that white lid is gorgeous.
24. Vanderbilt – Here’s a team that never had a wonderful look in the past that cleaned up their look and now looks great. Not a big fan of the shoulder yokes on the gold jersey, but I can handle it. Beats piping in my opinion. And their new white helmet is one of my favorites.
25. Marshall – Full disclosure, the Marshall Thundering Herd is my second team behind Auburn. And another team that has a great white helmet with Northwestern stripes down the middle. Yea, my biasness is back. I’ve always enjoyed the all white or white-green-white look, and have actually enjoyed the green pants. Sadly, the all-green “Pea Pods” uniforms are no longer available (according to the Herd Equipment Team last year). The green helmets are no more.
And that’ll do it for today. I know many of you will disagree with my listing here, so please leave a comment below with your own rankings. I’m interested to see what you would place up there that I didn’t and what you’d leave off that I included.
Be sure to check out my website as I have posts about many of the different Auburn athletic teams and their uniforms, with even more coming this fall. I’m also working on individual conference rankings over the next few weeks prior to the season.
Follow me on twitter @Clintau24
War Eagle and thanks for allowing me to do this Phil!
Thanks, Clint — obviously any list that has Auburn as #1 will ignite controversy, so readers — feel free to give us your own lists. Had I done my own, I’m sure it would take as much grief as any other (my #1 would be Alabama, and I’d probably have Penn State at #2, as I did in the past — but I might need to rethink that now). But great effort (even if we disagree) and thanks for getting the ball rolling on this!
Readers? Now it’s your turn. Fire away.
U.W.F.F.L. Spring League
UWFFL Developmental League – Week 19 – Tiebreaker Games
By Rob Holecko
Well we have completed the 18 week regular season portion of theDevelopmental League season and congratulations to the six group champions, including Greenville, Yellowknife and Little Rock who ran
the table with perfect 8-0 records, along with St. John’s (7-0-1), Cheyenne (7-0-1) and Toledo (7-1). Congratulations are also in order for all the teams that finished in the top three places in each group, as they will move on to Division II UWFFL competition, as well as the next three finishers in each group who will be placed in Division III. Next week the D-League playoffs will commence, but first we have to settle a few ties before we can move forward. Those six group winners and two wild card teams will compete in next week’s first round of playoff matches, but since three second-place teams, Missouri, Charleston and Staten Island all finished with 7-1 records, a play-in game will be necessary. After placing the teams based on vote differential, Missouri (which needed to win by 34 votes over Houston last week to pass Charleston, and did just that with an 87-51 victory) received the #7 seed and Charleston and Staten Island will face off for the #8 seed.
The traveling Swordfish are going with their standard mono-white road unis, in which they went 3-1 in their four road games in, albeit this week they have a new cleaned-up UWFFL D-League patch, while the home team Navigators, who have mixed-and-matched their helmets, jerseys and pants all season long are wearing their white-blue-white combo in which they went 1-1 with a win over Jacksonville and their only loss, to Greenville. With these two teams in different groups, this tiebreaker game will be their first meeting.
There are four more tiebreaker games, two to decide 3rd place group finishers, and two to decide 6th place finishers.
In the battle of The Ocean State, the home of gaggers, bubblers, johnnycakes and stone-enders, (see the Wikipedia page for Rhode Island – and yes, there will be a quiz), the Providence Steamroller and the Rhode Island Hot Rods both finished 5-2-1 in Group A, with away team Rhode Island winning the first meeting 9-3 on April 26. This time Providence is the road team and is wearing their white road jersey over the orange pants, a look that they went 1-0-1 in, with a win over Ontario and a tie against group champion St. John’s. The Hot Rods are wearing gold pants for the first time, paring them with their home red jerseys in which they went 2-0-1 in.
In the game to decide 3rd place in Group E, the Angle North Stars and the Pontiac Prowlers face off in an unlikely matchup. In their first meeting, these two teams tied 7-7, and last week Angle would have clinched 3rd place with a win in their season finale against Cheyenne, or would have fell behind Pontiac into fourth with a loss. The only way they would have gotten into this tiebreaker game was with a tie. Well they did just that, as the Shock and the North Stars wound up playing to a 61-61 tie.
This week Angle chooses to stick with their good luck charm white-over-navy road alts, in which they’ve gone 2-0-1 so far this season, going white-at-home as they host Pontiac. The Prowlers are debuting gray pants for the first time this season, and with them they will be wearing their purple home unis on the road, in which they fared 3-0-1. Here’s hoping these teams don’t play to another tie today.
You can head over to www.uwfantasyfootballleague.com to vote on the other two tiebreaker games, and we’ll see you next week with the first round of playoff games, and the official kickoff of the Fall Season with the second annual UWFFL Founders Bowl.
As I noted last weekend, soon Paul will be beginning his annual (and well-deserved) sabbatical, and as such, he’ll be leaving me in charge of the weekday Uni Watch postings.
As in the past, I’m always looking for readers for their help in suggesting topics and working with me to bring them about. I’ve already lined up a few of you for stories (plus I have some good ones that were already planned for the summer hiatus, including a uni design contest I think you’ll really like), but I can always use a few more. I’ll also be back for what has become a regular Friday feature while Paul is on summer vacation that I like to call “Fridays With Morris” (featuring Morris Levin), so that should be great.
If you’re interested in working with me on a uni-related story, please shoot me an E-mail (Phil.Hecken [at] gmail [dot] com) and pitch me.
On a related note, I’m planning on a doing a story with Randy Alleman, and he’s looking for a little help from you guys for his research. Here’s Randy:
I am working on a future Uni Watch article and could use some assistance from the UW community. If you know of any pitchers who have a visible marking on their cap (from rosin, pine tar, etc.) please let me know. You can contact me at email@example.com.
Looking forward to working with a few of your fine readers in the next few weeks.
[Today’s ticker was mostly compiled by Paul. Thanks, buddy! –Phil]
Baseball News: Here’s another look at Iowa Cubs player Javier Baez’s backwards batting helmet lettering. Still no explanation (from Al Yellon). … The Royals Hall of Fame has a team historian who walks around in an old-timey baseball uniform. He also posts a big “W” on the stadium wall after each Royals victory (from Brian McDavitt). … Would you want to play for a team called the Bugs? That comes from this auction item (from Bruce Menard). … Pretty cool Latino Heritage jersey for the El Paso Chihuahuas (thanks, Phil). And here’s a look at those jerseys in action. … Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated is the latest observer calling upon the Padres to go back to brown (Phil again). … The Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League will wear these military appreciation jerseys (from Alex Hager). I’m not sure of the date, and looking at the promo sked, it doesn’t appear to list this as an event. As one commenter on Twitter pointed out, “Must be awkward for the black players.” (Actually, it must be awkward for all the players — look at those things!) … Parece que John Rocker es haciendo firmas de libros y vendiendo camisetas estos días. … Wellington Castillo’s Cubs logo was crooked on his helmet yesterday (h/t Matthew Disbennett). … “Saw this 1947 photo of the Reds’ Ewell Blackwell,” says Leo Strawn, Jr. “Nothing out of the unusual as far as the uni goes in this pic, but I thought the photographer was pretty lazy to ask Blackwell to turn around, rather than to walk his camera between Ewell and his catcher for the correct shot. (My first thought looking at Blackwell here was the internet meme, ‘you’re doing it wrong!’)” … The Sacramento River Cats will have a Star Wars jersey night on August 16th (via Alex Curry). … When you buy your tickets at the ticket office from the Eugene Emeralds (Class A baseball team), you get a receipt printed on a ticket (thanks to Alex Allen). … The Hiroshima Toyo Carp are going Moroccan red for 6 games at the end of August. The white script has been changed to black and also on the hat as well (thanks to Jeremy Brahm). … The Lexington Legends, a MiLB team, will wear jerseys today designed by a nine year old. While many times we may feel MiLB jerseys look like they’re designed by pre-teens, this one actually is.
NFL & College Football News: 49ers WR Michael Crabtree was wearing a hoodie under his practice jersey the other day (from Comi Sharif). … Here’s a writer who sees big disconnect between the NFL’s annual Pinktober uniform promotion and Ray Rice’s slap-on-the-wrist punishment for beating up his fiancée. … Speaking of the NFL and women, new uniforms for the Colts’ cheerleaders. … “I think the Niners have changed their front bumper from the ‘Riddell’ bumper (which replaced the ’49ers’ bumper) to their logo seen here,” writes Brian K. Graham. He asks, “Is this for training camp or signal a bigger season long change?” … New uniforms for The Citadel (thanks, Phil). … No pics (or mock) but the Fresno State Bulldogs are expected to unveil an alternate all-navy uniform featuring chrome helmets for at least one game this season. … According to Warren Junium, it’s “Christmas morning” for Notre Dame coaches, what with all that UnderArmour gear stuffed to the brim.
College Hoops News: So much to like in this photo of the 1926 Bethel College squad. Love those straight V-neck collars! Also of note: Bethel still has a center-court depiction of a threshing stone, because the school was founded by Mennonite immigrants from Ukraine/Russia who brought along red winter wheat, which quickly became by far the dominant wheat grown throughout the Great Plains (from Tim Huber). … Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles has his face on custom Adidas kicks (thanks, Brinke).
Soccer News: Are there more new soccer uniforms being released these days, or does it just seem like it since many of us are now more attuned to soccer since the World Cup? New away kit for everton (from Casey Hart). … New kits for Corinthians. … Manchester City Football Club, the defending Premier League Champions, have unveiled their new away kit for 2014-15. Here’s another view (thanks to Dale Hogan).
Grab Bag: Did you know high school football in northeast Ohio has its own media day? Jeez. Anyway, here are a bunch of jerseys from that day. … The U.S. Navy’s chief of personnel discusses the Navy’s new uniforms in the middle of this article (search on “service dress”). … In a related item, a leading supplier of military and law enforcement uniforms has come up with two new camouflage patterns. … Is Gatorade going back to its old logo? Maybe. … A Knoxville TV meteorologist was criticized by a view for wearing dresses that “fit [too] snugly under [her] bust.” … BLK Sport is apparently making USA Rugby’s jerseys now (from Josh Jacobs). … Interesting piece on Nike’s and Adidas’s attempts to make sneakers with knitted fabric. … Lots of Iowa Hawkeye jerseys in the Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. … Jana Stern, who specializes in designing uniforms for the restaurant/resort/hospitality industry, has a Kickstarter campaign to help her pursue new projects. … New foundation logo on NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson’s Helmet of Hope. … Here’s one of those pointless “Worst logos in sports” rankings. … So you want to own a really ugly hockey X-mas sweater? Now you can. And yes, the NHL actually calls them “ugly.”
And that’s just about all for today — big thanks to Clint for agreeing to come up with a NCAA football Top 25 we’re all sure to (mostly) disagree with — an unenviable task to be sure.
Everyone have a good Saturday, and I’ll catch you guys tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken
“The best examples of neo-Constructivism you’ll find around here come from the brain factory of Robert Marshall.”
— Conn Nugent