College Football’s Top 25 Uniforms for 2017
When it comes to college football teams there are several aspects that are easily recognizable – the name (college and/or nickname), mascot and, of course, the uniforms. Whether it’s in person or watching on TV, one thing that always stands out – whether that ends up being a good thing or bad – is what a particular team is wearing.
Uniform rankings are nothing new, as AthlonSports.com contributors tackled each of the Power 5 conferences earlier this offseason, but what about an overall top 25 for all FBS teams? Athlon decided to pose this question to a collection of editors and contributors with each participant coming up with their own list of their favorite 25 unis. Once the votes were tabulated, this was the end result. Plenty of familiar names and looks on here, but there may be a surprise or two as well.
Here are a few of the teams that just missed the cut – Baylor, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech. Remember, beauty, or in this case, gridiron fashion, is in the eye of the beholder.
The Horned Frogs can go white, black or gray as a base. It's doesn't matter — everything they do looks fantastic — and the purple is a big reason why. But the game-changer that sets the Horned Frogs apart from the rest of the Big 12 is the frog-skin look.
So many teams, both collegiate and professional, have the navy and orange look. But few have kept their look as crisp, simple and timeless as Auburn has.
Nebraska has struggled to find its footing on the national landscape for more than a decade, but that doesn’t take away from the Cornhuskers’ rich history. Regardless of what happens on the field, Nebraska will maintain its status as one of the most recognized college football teams as a good deal of the Huskers’ tradition is tied to the uniform.
Navy has experimented with specially designed (and some rather unique) looks in recent seasons, specifically for its annual rivalry game with Army, but there’s a strong identity associated with its traditional color combination. It is called Navy blue after all, right? And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Midshipmen look sharp in it.
(Photo courtesy of www.navysports.com)
Miami and Nike had set the bar for many years, but the Hurricanes’ recent switch to Adidas has looked smooth so far, especially when the Canes wear orange pants. Few programs boast the kind of brand history this one does, and these uniforms are always a reminder of that.
No one in the world has this shade of orange. Every time you see it, you think Tennessee Volunteers. That’s a branding identity you simply cannot put a price on.
The Gator mascot and natural school colors offer the program much to work with. And give Florida credit for rarely overdoing it when it comes to uniforms. The orange and blue are natural complements, and the script “Gators” helmet is a classic that is very different from most of the program’s SEC peers.
18. North Carolina
Who else has its own colorway? “Carolina Blue” has become a part of every sports fans’ vernacular over the years, and with Michael Jordan’s Jumpman brand now sponsoring the football program, expect an even better look for the Tar Heels in 2017.
When Colorado locked up its Pac-12 South championship in 2016, the Buffaloes wore black jerseys and pants with their iconic gold helmets. It was the perfect, old-school look on a night that recaptured the glory days of Colorado football. But as Colorado’s black-and-silver combination the week prior against Washington State demonstrated, and even the all-white for a less memorable Pac-12 Championship Game appearance, Ralphie adds value to any uniform.
16. Boise State
Since 2000, Boise State has been transformed from a former Division I-AA (now known as FCS) program to one of the top non-Power 5 teams in the country year in and year out. While much of this has to do the team’s success during that span there are other reasons for this. Not only do the Broncos have their famous “Smurf Turf,” but their uniforms have developed their own reputation. Nike is introducing a few new changes for this season (right), which is even more evidence of how far Boise State has come in terms of its national standing.
(Photo by John Kelly, courtesy of www.broncosports.com)
It’s a chore to not look great with a color scheme like Washington’s. And indeed, the Huskies have dressed the part on the way to becoming national title contenders. The best of Washington’s uniform combinations is the classic home pairing: gold helmets and pants, purple jersey and that big, block purple W on the side of the lid.
When it comes to Oklahoma’s uniforms the formula has stayed the same – crimson and cream. Those colors have been associated with the university for more than a century and the football team has a lot to do with that. While there have been variations on this theme and the occasional alternate, the Sooners’ sustained success has proven this to be a winning color combination.
Call it the Jordan Brand effect, but growing up, no uniforms were cooler than black-and-red ones. Georgia fans have known this for quite some time, making their classic look tough to beat, as the alternate black jerseys are every bit as cool as the basic red or white ones. Tough to beat that simple “G” helmet, too.
College football’s originator of the uniform-as-identity has always stayed ahead of the trends. As the wins piled up in Eugene, so too did the uniform combinations. The two things went hand-in-hand.
For years, self-appointed college football fashion critics lamented Adidas’ tinkering with the wholly unique UCLA look. From odd alternate choices, to unnecessary stripes and bizarre fonts, the amazing blue-and-gold symbolic with Bruins football just felt off.
It’s off no longer.
When you see orange on a football field, one of the teams that immediately comes to mind is Clemson. The Tigers have, for the most part, stuck with their classic look through good times and bad, creating an identity like few others.
9. Florida State
The combination of garnet and gold is unique in sports but that’s because it’s owned by one team. Every college football fan and even the majority of casual observers know when Florida State takes the field, as the Seminoles look good in whatever combination of these two colors they choose to wear. The spear on the helmet and the iconic Seminole logo only add to FSU’s brand identity.
This is the classic case of simple being better. When you (claim) 16 national titles, all won in the same look, there is no reason to tinker with the uniform. Crimson and white has Nick Saban’s no-nonsense “process” written all over it, but that’s the catch: This program’s history extends way beyond its current leader, and those numbered helmets are just one nice old-school touch that reminds all of what the other team is up against when facing Alabama.
The are very few uniforms in any sport that look better than the burnt orange jerseys and white helmets the Longhorns march onto the field in. The stunningly bright white pants could serve as an ad for a laundry detergent commercial. And the Longhorn on the helmet? Simply one of the best logos on the planet.
6. Ohio State
Ohio State is one of the select college football programs that can boast a strong blend of tradition and success, both in terms of results and the uniforms. Not only are the Buckeyes known for their predominantly scarlet and grey color combinations, but everyone recognizes the buckeye leaves that are plastered on the players’ helmets.
When you look on the field and see the familiar purple and gold of the Tigers, those uniforms only add to the familiar, special scene. The colors fit in perfectly with the unique state and create an identity for the Bayou Bengals that few can match.
Like Yankees pinstripes in MLB or the Lakers’ purple-and-gold for the NBA, USC’s uniform is embedded in the fabric of college football. The classic look that has reigned throughout the decades at USC is one of the best in all of sports.
3. Penn State
The most iconic uniform in college football. White pants, no stripes. Navy blue jerseys, plain white numbers. And speaking of helmets, let's talk about the cleanest, whitest, brightest helmet in college football.
2. Notre Dame
Like pretty much every other team, Notre Dame has changed things up on the uniform front in recent seasons, especially for the “Shamrock Series.” But unlike most teams, the Fighting Irish don’t need a splashy, colorful alternate to attract attention because their standard look is already one of the best in the nation. It may be a simplistic look when compared to some other teams, but the gold and blue combination has withstood the test of time, and the same can be said for the team that wears it.
The solid maize pants against the navy blue jersey is a timeless combination that will never go out of style. But let's be honest here: it's all about that helmet when it comes to Michigan's uniforms. The Wolverines may not have coined the design, but they've made it famous, and there is not a better looking helmet in all of football – college or pro, American or Canadian.