Considering all the annual changes that college football programs seem to make in their unis, ranking the best and the worst in the sport is always sort of a moving target. Sometimes these changes are made just so the school can sell more jerseys to the general public. And of course everybody but Alabama seems to have a handful of alternate uniforms they pull out of the woodwork once in a while -- thank you athletic outfitters like Adidas, Nike and Under Armor.
So how do the uniforms of the SEC stack up? Well if you take just the basic home uniform of the 14 teams, this is how the teams in the southern monster conference rank in the fashion department.
-- Rankings by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.
14. Mississippi State
The Bulldog fans have their distinctive cowbells, their top-flight tailgating and their “Maroon-White” chant. But their uniforms aren’t nearly as colorful as their following. State’s uniforms are okay, there is nothing to offend the sensibilities, but there is also just nothing outstanding. The block M with the State banner across it on the helmet is nothing to write home about (I like the old interlocking “MSU”) and having the stacked “Mississippi” and “State” on the crest of the jersey seems a little awkward. The only thing that would help is to bring back the Emory Bellard-era vertical stripes on the shoulders.
13. Texas A&M
Speaking of Emory Bellard-era vertical stripes on the shoulders, here’s the Aggies’ version of the rather tough maroon and white color combo. Though they are close to the Dogs, the big difference to me is how they have stuck with the traditional grey facemasks. Sooooo, advantage Aggies.
The Volunteers are famous for their unique end zone design, which is quite possibly the coolest field design in the country. But when it comes to football togs, the Vols have bad fashion sense. The hunter safety orange color isn’t something that strikes fear into opponents to begin with and is more apropos for a Sunkist product carton. Oh and the stripe on the top of the helmet is too fat.
The Wildcats are just stuck in uniform purgatory. As much as they try to jazz them up or add a new twist, the blue and white that the Cats subscribe to just seems more apt for basketball than football. Which is a good thing for the Big Blue Nation because their basketball program is, well, the best. And didn’t they try to rip off the Tennessee-like checkerboard feature on their uniforms? Bad ju-ju man.
Purple and gold can be tough to pull off. The Minnesota Vikings do it well by emphasizing the purple and keeping the gold to a minimum. For the Tigers, the heavy emphasis on the banana yellow part of their school colors on the pants and helmet is not a good touch. And besides, the “LSU” on their helmets looks a little haphazardly placed. I know the home white jersey is a tradition, but toss in the purple tops a little more often. Or pull a Gerry Dinardo and go full on yellow on top and white bottoms like he did against Vanderbilt in 1996 and the '97 Independence Bowl vs. Notre Dame.
There is just too much going on here, like a bubble gum machine. It’s not always easy to pull off an orange and blue uni and sometimes the Gators' brass goes too far, especially when they pull out the blue jersey with the blue pants. And any team that simply puts their nickname in script on their helmets shows a little laziness. C’mon, your mascot is an alligator; put an angry one on there. I will give them points for the three-striped sleeve. I do like that touch, but it’s not enough to save the overall look.
There is nothing really intriguing about the Hogs' uniforms. Just as expected as it gets. Sure they’ll put “Arkansas” across the front of the jersey from time to time or put a different stripe on the sleeve every so often, but nothing puts these Natural Staters over the top. And besides, the running Razorback on the helmet, with its feet in the “up” position, actually looks more like a pig being roasted on a spit.
It’s hard not to like the Tigers and their black and gold school colors. But the football uniforms jumped the shark when they decided to go from using the classic old gold (see Vanderbilt above) to the cartoonish brighter gold in their black-and-gold combo. The black on black facemask and helmet is a tidbit of overkill, but not too bad. The odd thing about them is the two stripes that get thinner at the front of the helmet. Are those supposed to be spears or Tiger stripes that are straight?
6. South Carolina
Let’s face it, the Gamecocks have a chicken on their helmets. It’s a little tough to get past that. But the Maroon and Black look is pretty cool. It’s sort of what you’d expect a team of villains to wear. (Worry not Gamecock fans, that’s “villains” in a good way… like the Oakland Raiders). As if they’re the bad guys and they certainly look the part. I also personally loved the old “Fire Ant Defense” which played off the dark burgundy jerseys they wear. One of the best defensive nicknames I can recall.
Traditional. Not flashy. Just like the way they dole out their arse-whippins on unwitting opponents year after year. When you’re Alabama you don’t need any extra French pastry added to your uniform, just put on that crimson and cream and go beat the hell out of people. Besides, that’s the way Bear Bryant and his gruff Chesterfield voice would want it. As a kid, I thought that the numbers on the helmet was a terrible touch. “Where’s the giant red elephant or something?” But now, so many national titles later, it’s sorta cool.
Their success on the field may be rare but the Commodores knock it out of the park with their unis. They start with the star on the helmet, immediately aligning themselves with the Dallas Cowboys in having an icon that people can relate to. The black is accentuated very well with that brushed old gold look that never goes out of style. And I know this may be a bit gimmicky, but there is something really cool with the “stripe” on the helmet being an Anchor Down chain. Dig that.
3. Ole Miss
I have to admit that I’ve always liked the navy and red jerseys that they interchange in Oxford. And being that they are “Rebels” it is sort of appropriate that they infuse grey into their color scheme with the grey bottoms. I once went to a game in Jackson vs. LSU where the Rebs wore their navy jerseys in the first half and then came out in their red jerseys for the second half. Not many teams can do that.
Unlike Florida’s blue and orange combination, the Tigers seem to pull it off more impressively, going with the darker navy blue and also not letting the orange overwhelm you. Just a dash of orange here and there on a stripe or two is much more accentuating than allowing it to get loud. Also, the classic interlocking “AU” on the helmet is a good touch in a classy and iconic way. It’s hard to beat the Plainsmen and their home get-ups.
Ah, the Silver Britches. These guys know how to get it done with a great color combination of red, black and white. It all works. Strong colors and well designed. One of the better features is that they have a “G” on their helmets that gets imitated thousands of times across the country by other colleges and high schools. Oh wait, did Green Bay use it first? Well it’s still a nice touch either way. But the crowning point is the “silver britches” they play in. Started in 1939 by former head coach Wally Butts, the battle cry of “Go you Silver Britches” became popular. However, Vince Dooley got rid of them in the '60s in favor of white pants. (Blasphemy, I know.). But then in 1980 he decided to bring the silver britches back. All they did was win the national title that season.