Rushmore: College Football Uniforms

No, Oregon is not on our list.

If you’re looking for college football uniforms of the dazzling, gaudy variety, never fear, you’ll find none in this article. The best uniforms in sport often have the least number of bells and whistles. Simplicity is the order of the day.

With all apologies to Louisville, Maryland, Texas Tech, South Carolina, and Southern Miss, here is the Rushmore of College Football Uniforms:

Photo by Chris Sponagle

Penn State

The plainest uniform on our list. Virtually unaltered since the 1960s, the uniforms of Pennsylvania State University are steeped in tradition. The white helmet with the lone navy stripe. The white pants with no piping. The black shoes. Jerseys adorned only with numbers. In fact, the nameless jerseys were restored in 2015 by head coach James Franklin, who decided that the concept of family is greater than individual recognition. Above any other on our list, Penn State’s uniforms demonstrate there’s majesty in simplicity.

 

Notre Dame

The Notre Dame uniform has undergone some terrible tweaks and adjustments throughout the years (see the Shamrock series), but the core uniform—you know, the one worn by Chris Zorich and the ’88 championship team—is the most iconic uniform on our list. The gold-sprayed helmet harkens to the scene in Rudywhen the audience is taken behind-the-scenes to the Irish locker room in South Bend. The small, compressed numbers, the gold pants sans piping, the nameless jerseys spell a timeless uni that would paint an endless smile on Knute Rockne’s face. Color me a traditionalist, but there’s something to say about not changing a thing.

 

Alabama’s uniform hasn’t changed a great deal in the last 40 years. Here’s the 1990 version in the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl | Photo courtesy the Fiesta Bowl

Alabama

Alabama football has been linked with the name “Crimson Tide” since the 1907 Iron Bowl. The man responsible for coining the phrase was Hugh Roberts, who described the red mud of the field in an article for the Birmingham Age-Herald. Over the years, Alabama has experimented little with their uniforms, the most distinct change occurring periodically through the 1950s and ‘60s with the institution of the white helmet. Save for the houndstooth collars implemented by Mike Shula, not much has changed over the last 40 years, however, as Alabama’s classic crimson home uniforms and splendid white away uniforms leave little doubt as to what the Crimson Tide will be wearing as it comes out of the tunnel.

 

Photo courtesy USC Athletics

USC

Arguably the best looking uniform on our list, the USC uniform is a college football classic. Unassuming, unembellished, the gold-and-cardinal uniforms of Southern Cal are the pride of the American West. Memories of John McKay, John Robinson, O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, Lynn Swann, and Ronnie Lott flood the mind when USC takes the field in their pretty, old school togs. Indeed, the pageantry would make Troy proud. H&A

Cover photo courtesy USC Athletics. 

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