The SEC’s infamous slogan is “It Just Means More.” And yes, that extends to laundry, with league programs wearing some of the most storied and iconic uniforms in all of sports.
Which are the best? The worst? We take everything – alternates included – into account here as we rank the SEC’s uniforms.
— 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’s just too much going on here, with a bunch of colors that don’t seem to mesh all that well. We get trying to differentiate yourself when you’re the new kid on the block, as Mizzou is in the SEC, but at some point you need an identity that can resonate with fans. So far, the Tigers seem to be missing the boat with that in the uniform department, despite the program’s mostly impressive performance since joining the league in 2012.
Vanderbilt’s uniforms are just fine – nothing great, nothing bad. But for a program as unique among its conference peers as this one is – in as eccentric a locale as the Commodores are, in Nashville – it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more pop, as difficult as that may be with a dark primary color.
The Wildcats’ football program suffers from the same issues that programs like Duke football do: Their colors are great, and when seen on their basketball programs, all sorts of memories come to the forefront, sparking good feelings for their fans. There’s nothing wrong with their football getups, but until the Cats start doing more on the gridiron – and last year was certainly a positive step – there won’t be many strong feelings about these unis. (That said: Stick with these, Cats. Don’t get too fancy.)
The Razorbacks’ look is simple and to the point, the perfect uniform for a meat-and-potatoes program that, under Bret Bielema, is going to beat you into submission with a simple, yet effective, ground attack. Because the Hogs’ shade of red isn’t all that unique, though, these uniforms do have a difficult time standing out, although we love their helmets.
10. South Carolina
It’s hard to think of a college that carries this colorway. When you think of garnet, black and white – you think of South Carolina. But does that necessarily make it a great combination? Opinions likely differ on this one, although the Gamecocks’ black uniforms – with either the white or black helmets – are sharp.
9. Mississippi State
For some reason, these uniforms really seem to scream “Adidas,” what with the striped shoulders and, perhaps, the coach’s endless selling of his media day kicks. The simple home maroons and road whites (even with white helmets, sometimes) are the kind of non-nonsense uniforms you’d expect from a place like MSU. But please, don’t ever do the gold accents again.
8. Texas A&M
Another Adidas school, another maroon-based school. These seem a little smoother than Mississippi State’s, perhaps because of all the goodwill “street cred” this program built through the Johnny Football years. There’s something special about those all whites, though. (Confession: Maybe I’m just biased to these and MSU’s since my high school wore maroon.)
Tennessee suffers, and benefits, from a similar problem that South Carolina does. 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. Like the Gamecocks, though, you wonder if anyone outside of Knoxville actually loves that color. That said, we were not a fan of those gray alternates, or any kind of alternate that takes away from the kind of familiar pop you expect to see every time this program takes the field.
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. The all-orange alternates, while a bit much on the eyes, don’t stray too far from the school’s roots, so it’s tough to knock those much either.
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.
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. And who can blame the Tigers? They won a national title seven years ago and darn near won another in 2013. For one side of college football’s most intense rivalry, this classic look is all it takes to evoke memories of yesterday with the promise for more. Simple is better here. No alternates necessary.
3. Ole Miss
What can be better than red, white and blue? Unlike other colorways, this one offers the chance for experimentation and crazy alternates, as you can never really stray too far from the past with these ones. And when the Rebels wear those powder blue helmets, well, it’s just hard to beat those.
Who else wears white at home? No one else, that’s who. LSU has mastered the art of atmosphere, with Death Valley night games regularly voted as the best scene in college football. 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.
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.