Uniform evolution

From leather helmets to chrome helmets, the evolution of uniforms in college football.


Jacob Becker Geiser

Who needs leather when you can have chrome and camo helmets?

Have you ever played a sports game and tried to make your guy look as sweet as he could? I know I’m not the only one. Now today instead of players taking things into their own hands, the schools have.

The evolution of uniforms has been something that has swept across the nation. The craze for who has the sickest or cleanest uniforms has been exploding in recent years. It is evolving so much that there are numerous uniform blogs or twitter accounts devoted just to uniforms. Uniform Swag, Uniform Watch, and The Aesthetic SB are a few that come to mind. You can’t talk about sports uniforms and not talk about “Uniform Aficionado’s” Phil Hecken, and Paul Lukas. These guys are an example of how much the uniforms athletes wear have grown into something we all look out for.

Check out a guy like JVince11, who makes helmet concepts for a living.  They are sweet I’d take a look if I were you. If I was a college team or pro team, because he does both, I would give him a call. All these guys show how much the game of uniforms have changed. These guys break down uniforms for either their job, or fun.  I tell you I wouldn’t mind being a uniform critic.

Now I’m only going to discuss the college football side because in my opinion they were the first to really revolutionize uniforms, and it all starts with the Oregon Ducks.

Oregon was blessed in a way because the founders of Nike, Coach Bill Bowerman and mastermind Phil Knight were alumni of the University. Bowerman and Knight decided to give a little back to their Alma Mater and thus the Oregon and Nike partnership was born. We all know how the rest goes.

Oregon hit the ground running in my opinion in the 2000’s, here’s a look at their uniforms since the start of 2000. They have done it all. When the guys at Nike make something for the Ducks it means something coming from a guy like Knight. He is giving back to the Ducks in a way most people wouldn’t. Not only do the Ducks have the best gear on the field, it gives them a definite advantage in recruiting.

The uprising in outlandish uniforms can end up being a good recruiting tool. I may not know that as much as kids who are getting recruited, but I can see the possible advantages it may have. Kids these days are all about looking fresh, and schools like Oregon, who reps Nike well, Maryland, Notre Dame and Cincinnati have some sharp Under Armour uniforms.

Adidas well, theirs are interesting. Nonetheless, signing Miami (FL) and Arizona State have helped them after losing some schools to Under Armour.

Young athletes loves playing the game, but if he can look good on the field, it adds a new dimension to them. Kids want to have the best ‘swag’ on the field, and no school does ‘Uniform Swag’ like Oregon. I mean you know their doing it right because I can’t have all 50 of their uniform combinations in the past three years in this slideshow…

Oregon has used the Donald Duck logo numerous times on uniforms, and just the basic Oregon ‘O’. Well now, they decided to recognize Lewis and Clark in their uniforms. Sure, let’s just throw Lewis and Clark on a helmet… It actually looks sweet. Oregon has out done themselves over the past few years, here are a few of my favorites.

Now below is another example of the impact uniforms have on college football fans. Teams will post the uniform combination or look before each game. Half of it is to let them know what time they play and on what station, but also to show off what uniforms they will be wearing. No one would’ve cared about that 5-7 years ago, but now, all the fans crave this information. Here a few examples of what is being done by schools all across the nation

All Pictures are courtesy of Uniswag.

University of Cincinnati student, and alum of Elder High, Logan “Tommy Bahama” Steiner, loves having the most up to date gear. Especially teams like UC, Tennessee, Ohio State, and many more teams. He told me the technology and thought put into uniforms has changed tremendously over the past few years.

“I feel the uniforms are a huge part of recruiting, brands like UA and Adidas have stepped up their game to try to catch Nike.”

He said the quality of uniforms has changed and the technology has made uniforms look very outlandish yet cool.

“My favorite uniform in college has to be the Utah Utes or Navy.”

Another part to uniforms has been their ability to tell stories or honor a programs long lasting tradition. For example, the University of Cincinnati.

UC has recently switched to Under Armour and has made it known that they want to incorporate the university’s DAAP program and the Linder Center triangles. They also have a uniform just for homecoming honoring Nippert Stadium and its 100th year Anniversary of playing in the “Wrigley field” of college football.

So that is an example of how uniforms have changed not only in looks, but in its deeper meaning.

College football uniforms have changed in the past few years, and will continue to change as people involved with these brands start to take more chances and be more flashy. Nike is slowly being caught by Under Armour as its stock in the past year has gone up.

Also, Nike and UA better watch out because Michael Jordan is starting to get into the football uniform business, with the University of Michigan. And this is only the beginning.