Nothing seems to get college players more excited than jersey unveilings, as most programs feature some form of alternate or one-off jerseys every year, posting them on social media to raucous applause from those who will wear them on the field.
We take a crack here at ranking the ACC’s best uniforms, taking into account history, design and overall look. We’re well aware that the best (or the worst) may be yet to come, but let’s go off what we know for now.
— Written by Matt Fortuna, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and spent six seasons covering college football for ESPN.com. Fortuna’s work has been honored by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) seven times. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Fortuna and like his Facebook page.
There seems to be too much going on here for a program simply called the “Orange.” Cuse can start by, at the very least, having orange jerseys or helmets as a primary home color, and by choosing a cleaner font for its numbers. All of the program’s non-orange helmets look silly, especially the multi-colored ones. And, most importantly, it is easy for viewers to turn on a game and not immediately recognize who is playing, which, in theory, is a big branding problem for a program as tradition-rich as this one.
13. Georgia Tech
There’s a combination of blandness here with the Yellow Jackets, which is probably just the way head coach Paul Johnson likes it. When you see a triple-option offense in the 21st century wearing dull jersey colors with the Russell Athletic logo, you get Georgia Tech. To his credit, new AD Todd Stansbury says the program will move on to a new outfitter when the Russell Athletic contract expires next summer, so hopefully a sleeker design will follow.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Cavaliers’ get-up. There’s just nothing all that extraordinary, either. The orange alternates need to go. Those classic logo helmets are pretty sweet, though.
11. NC State
Much like Virginia, NC State has a relatively simple look that is easily identifiable and comes off just fine. And just like UVA, there just isn’t a whole of recent tradition with this football program to make it truly pop when watching a Wolfpack game.
10. Wake Forest
While the Demon Deacons’ look is probably a little dark for most fans’ tastes, it is a color relatively unique to the school, allowing room for creativity in the shoulder pad area. We’d love to see Wake experiment with a helmet featuring the Demon Deacons’ mascot.
There are so few remaining schools that you can immediately identify based on a single colorway, but Duke falls into that category. And given the recent rise of the program under head coach David Cutcliffe, that is now a good thing for the Blue Devils’ football program, although this look will never compete with the men’s basketball unis.
8. Boston College
Simple, classic colorways for a simple, classic program. Let’s cut to the chase: Boston College is not about flash, on or off the field. And it’s operating on a budget that is nowhere near most of its ACC peers. Yet the Eagles, filled with tradition from yesteryear, manage to regularly stick around in big games and contend for bowl appearances. Also, their annual red bandanna trim is simply awesome.
We get it: The Cardinals are the new kids on the block in the ACC, so they may feel the need to mix and match their look to create a little buzz. But most of their alternate looks have fallen flat. The Cardinal logo is terrific on its own, and the program has had no trouble adapting to a bigger conference. Stick with the traditional look, because it really is nice.
6. Virginia Tech
The Hokies established their brand of no-nonsense, down-and-dirty football under legendary head coach Frank Beamer, and these uniforms have come to represent that over the years. The colors are especially unique to this program, and blend perfectly with the fall season — and turkey season.
5. 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. The only thing keeping these uniforms from being higher on this list is the relative lack of tradition for UNC football, whereas on the Tar Heels’ basketball team this look is as good as it gets.
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.
3. Florida State
Confession: The old FSU jerseys would have easily been No. 1 on this list. The new ones are nice (they do rank No. 3 here, after all), but they just seem to lack the brightness and familiarity that the old ones do. The Seminoles have their reasons, but they switched uniforms after winning a national title in 2013. Something about that just doesn’t seem right.
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. Even their purple alternates are nice, and for a great cause: Military Appreciation Day.
The return to the Pitt script logo was a welcome one, livening up a somewhat-bland recent color scheme and reminding everyone of all the good times this program has celebrated in its storied history. But when the Panthers brought out their powder blue throwbacks for Homecoming last season, they were simply beautiful. And uniforms that should never, ever go away.
(Photo courtesy of @Pitt_FB)