Ranking the Pac-12’s 2015 Football Uniforms
Cal’s navy blue and gold color combination should lend itself to some classy uniforms among its Pac-12 brethren. And indeed, the simple yet bold helmet, with Cal spelled out in script, is subtle but distinguished. On a new, matte navy helmet, it looks especially bold.
However, tweaks to the Golden Bears’ threads over the years make Cal look like a high school team. Cal’s had bear-claw scratches, seemingly random swathes of accent colors and various other unnecessary additions.
All the Golden Bears need to go with a great helmet are block numbers, small stripes around the sleeves and a stripe up the side of the pants.
Related: Pac-12 Football 2015 Predictions
11. Washington State
Washington State has a great logo and distinct color scheme, but putting it all together for the perfect uniform has been as elusive as a bowl bid.
While some Pac-12 teams have been guilty of going too garish in recent years, Washington State’s look suffers from being a bit too drab. The gray alternate is a great idea, but is especially drab in practice. The mismatched grays are particularly bleak.
And, though Washington State has one of the best logos in all of college sports, the WSU cougar head isn’t the football team’s best helmet option. The script “Cougars” Washington State wore in its heyday needs to make a comeback.
10. Oregon State
Sharing a state with uniform-obsessed Oregon puts pressure on Oregon State to stand out. That’s occasionally resulted in some awful choices for the Beavers, like a black stripe on their orange jerseys in the late 2000s, which looked like the players were wearing backpacks.
Oregon State’s current look is much simpler, which stands out in its own way. The black matte helmet looks great, and the white beaver-teeth stripe down the front of the facemask is a fun touch.
The all-orange has a highlighter quality to it, however, which is the polar opposite of the simple-yet-effective all-black uniform.
Utah’s tinkering with its uniform is a microcosm of the Utes’ adjustments to being a Pac-12 member. The 2014 season was the first Utah really seemed to figure out the weekly grind of the conference, winning nine games and finishing ranked in the Top 25.
Utah also started to figure out its uniforms. Though not perfected, the Utes’ look improved by leaps and bounds and gave the team a more unique identity. That wasn’t the case in Utah’s perfect 2008 season, when there wasn’t much difference between those uniforms and that which Under Armour rolled out for the football sequences in “Friday Night Lights.”
The all-black and all-white are definitely Utah’s best combinations, with all due respect to tradition.
8. Arizona State
When Arizona State athletics rebranded in 2011, the Sun Devil football team unveiled a department store’s worth of potential combinations. Here’s the rundown of duds Arizona State has sported in the last four years:
* Jerseys: Maroon, black, white, charcoal, throwback white
* Pants: Maroon, black, charcoal, white, gold, throwback gold
* Helmets: Black, matte black, white, white alternate, white and copper alternate, maroon, gold, throwback gold
Whew. That’s an awful lot of combinations, which are arguably unnecessary given the Sun Devils’ original uniforms look great. Though, in fairness, the charcoal alternate with copper accents worn against Notre Dame last November was fantastic.
Otherwise, the Sun Devils’ best look is the classic gold helmet with gold pants worn in last November’s Territorial Cup. Any Arizona State uniform without Sparky smiling mischievously and brandishing his pitchfork is lacking.
Long in the background behind the basketball program, Arizona football unveiled new uniforms before the 2013 season that gave the Wildcats a unique identity on the gridiron.
Arizona introduced a copper helmet in 2012 — a move designed to establish the university’s connection to the entire Grand Canyon State. The star in the center of the Arizona state flag is copper, and the mineral is one of the state’s “Five Cs,” along with cactus, cotton, cattle and citrus.
For Wildcats fans who dislike the copper helmet, be glad Arizona opted not to bring back its early-20th century sage green uniform to pay homage to cactus.
The copper helmet has not reappeared since a 2013 rivalry game shellacking at Arizona State. Arizona also lost a gradient from the numbers of its jerseys per an NCAA mandate. The lack of gradient is actually an improvement.
Colorado introduced some variations in recent years, first with a black helmet, then a matte black look. Head coach Mike MacIntyre teased more looks during this spring’s coaches teleconference call, and last month, Colorado unveiled two new sets of uniforms: an all-white look that fans of “Star Wars” should appreciate, and a smoky, all-gray set.
Longtime Buffs probably let out a sigh of relief when the promised alternates were not the return of the powder blues worn in the disastrous early 1980s.
Still, the new uniforms are an exercise in less-is-more: Colorado’s original black jersey, gold pants and gold helmet look clean and cool. No need to mess with greatness.
Of all the great things the Jim Harbaugh era brought to Stanford football, one of the more easily overlooked was the reintroduction of the classic look
Granted, Stanford’s success under Harbaugh and David Shaw easily surpassed that of the Elway era, but the Cardinal’s current duds are also a throwback to the time of Jim Plunkett.
Stanford introduced a black alternate earlier this decade that looked a tad out of place, almost clashing with the Cardinal’s white helmet. That look has since been refined, thanks to the addition of a slick, black matte lid.
The all-cardinal jersey-pant combination with black helmet that made an appearance once in 2011 has mercifully disappeared from the Stanford wardrobe.
Children of the 1990s who grew up in the West see that gold helmet with a big, bold W, purple jersey and gold pants, and memories of Steve Emtman terrorizing opposing quarterbacks come flooding in.
Washington tried tinkering with its uniforms at times, once wearing a purple helmet that never really worked. The great moments in Husky history were made either in the aforementioned home look, or in the white jersey-purple pants combination worn for such games as the Whammy in Miami.
The Huskies’ current digs pay homage to the past, with just enough tweaks to give it a more modern feel. Even their requisite alternate — an all-black uniform with matte helmet — is sleek and intimidating, and would have looked right at home on the best Washington teams of all-time.
The baby blue top, gold pants and gold helmet emblazoned with a script “UCLA” are as West Coast as Original Tommy’s chili burgers and longboards.
Even the font of the Bruins’ jerseys are classic, and just scream “California.”
UCLA’s dabbling in alternate uniforms in recent years assuredly prompts uniform purists to bark at Adidas to get off their lawns. Nevertheless, the navy blue L.A. Nights uniforms of 2012, black L.A. midnight in 2013 and charcoal L.A. Steel in 2014 were hits with the players.
The alternates are polarizing, but the iconic status of UCLA’s home uniform is something just about everyone can agree on.
Uniforms as a recruiting tool is a trend that started with Oregon in the early 2000s. Joey Harrington splashed across Times Square in a bright green, black and neon yellow uniform ushered in an era of fashion for college football.
Oregon’s earlier experimentations included the bizarre, diamond-plating patterns and neon helmets with ghost flames. The Ducks’ appearance has matured over the years, and Oregon now sports a variety of uniforms that are both understated, yet still stand out.
The green jersey with white pants and white helmet combination worn for the Pac-12 Championship Game is my personal favorite look from Oregon’s 2014 season. The green-and-black look, with a swooping duck featured prominently on a green helmet as worn in the spring game, is another home run.
Think of the most iconic looks in college football, and almost assuredly, USC’s springs to mind. Those cardinal helmets and jerseys with gold pants and black shoes at home, or white tops with the same accoutrements on the road, are etched in the annals of college football history.
From Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson, to Marcus Allen and Junior Seau, to Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and today, Cody Kessler and Adoree’ Jackson, the Trojans’ look has gone virtually untouched.
The “virtually” qualifier is necessary because USC teams of the 1980s wore a cardinal cage on their helmets, and this year’s team sported an alternate chrome helmet.
Traditionalists may not have liked the idea of the new helmet, but it actually looked great without deviating from USC’s history.
— Rankings by Kyle Kensing (@kensing45).