Sons of Style: Ranking the Uniforms for all 130 FBS Teams - The Bottom 13
To say this series is a passion project would be an understatement.
One of my favorite aspects of being part of the Sons of Saturday team is having a medium to share what I love. And there's no two things I love to do more than talk about college football... and judging people's outfits.
I've always loved the hype surrounding college football uniforms. I believe it's a fun part of the sport. But we've gone way past the point of just having fun with uniform reveal videos, alternate uniforms, and off-field equipment. College football uniforms have become a game of high fashion. And let's be honest, fashion is about more than having fun. What you wear shows your personality, your culture, your mood. I think Miuccia Prada, the Head Designer and CEO of Prada, says it perfectly:
What you wear is how you present yourself to the world.
Through this series, I'll be revealing my rankings for the uniform sets for all 130 FBS teams in 2020. I did this by giving a score between one and ten for each team's home, away, and alternate uniforms. I then ordered the teams by average score.
My criteria is largely based on that quote from Miuccia Prada. College football is so incredible because it reflects the school, the alumni, the students, the town, everything surrounding the program. I want the uniforms to do the same thing. Uniforms should represent the history and essence of the program. Everything from the colors to the fonts to the logos should mean something.
In the spirit of transparency, I will say I'm more of a fan of clean-looking uniforms. That bias obviously plays its way into these rankings, but that's only because I think it's harder to make a clean uniform that really speaks to the spirit of the school and its alumni. That being said, there is a place for uniforms that push the boundaries and expand on previous ideas. There's a fine line, however, between inventing something new and doing something that no one else thought was a good idea in the first place.
Let's kick it off with the bottom 13 sets of uniforms. These are, to mildly put it, excruciatingly horrid. They have no real substance and for the most part lack a real character to them. What really amazes me is that someone, if not multiple people, looked at these and said 'yes, this is good.' It's truly astounding and terrifying. The lack of style shown in these uniforms is simply pathetic. I feel like I need to go full Miranda Priestly from 'The Devil Wears Prada', played by the glamorous and iconic Meryl Streep.
#130 South Florida
This is one of the greatest mockeries of the sport of football that has ever been devised. South Florida has, simply put, the ugliest uniforms fathomable. From not one, but two shades of slime green, to a dull gold, to a greenish-gold? Nothing works.
The basic away uniforms are the only ones that even remotely resemble a football uniform but even these monstrosities have this weird swoop on the shoulder, which I'm guessing is supposed to be a bull horn? No way you can see that on a TV. But that doesn't matter! Because South Florida hasn't put a product on the field worthy of television since I was in middle school.
#129 Western Michigan
Western Michigan and Adidas don't have much to work with here with a pretty awful logo and some truly terrible colors. For starters, the font on the chest of the away uniforms looks like it's from Microsoft Word, and it doesn't even match the font on the home uniforms which is totally different bad font from Word Art 2003. As stated, clean always looks better, but the all-brown home fit with no stripes looks like a pile of you know what. This is a case of a university needing to sit down in a room with a book of paint swatches from Lowe's and just start from the very beginning because every decision that's been made up to this point has been a bad decision.
This is a life-time achievement award. The obsession that Marylanders have with that ugly flag is only rivaled by their obsession with driving like lunatics in DMV traffic. Under Armor tried to go back to a more traditional look with many of their schools this year, and Maryland was one of them. However, the tri-color strips just don't work, and the 'Terps' script has always been just really, really bad. Crazy, but these are better than they have been....
What is that? A law firm logo? You want to play football with that? Between that logo and that color combo of red and yellow, I'm not sure you could ever expect to win a football game. And look, I get what they're doing with the "Warhawk" grey uniforms. But they look like a kid made them. Leave those to the good men and women at the Air Force Academy. If you're gonna be bad, at least bring back the camo (the yee-yee camo, not the army camo) jerseys.
Okay what is this? Is that a checkerboard on the shoulder? No, it's diamonds? Ugh, I just don't know. It's so boring. It looks like it was made by a librarian. Bring back the old black uniforms from the Big East days.
#125 Bowling Green
As a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, I feel the pain. Brown and Orange are, let's face it, a terrible color combination to work with. However, the Browns have made it work with a muted brown color and a more of a burnt orange. Bowling Green, on the other hand, decided to go with the strongest Brown color they could find in the Crayola box and coupled that with the brightest, most neon shiny orange you could imagine. It looks beyond horrendous.
The only thing that saves Bowling Green is the template that Nike uses for their uniforms is pretty cool. It's a very updated version of the classic striped shoulders look. However, the colors are unforgivable. They have done a disservice to the good people along the shores of Lake Erie. No wonder they suck so bad.
It's just so boring. Of all of the orange and navy color combinations, Syracuse's just looks the worst. The orange is very bright and really acts as the primary color whereas the navy is the secondary color. This is different than Virginia and Auburn, and not in a good way. There's no logo other than a block 'S' on the helmets. The chest font is the same block font and it really looks like something you would make on CustomInk for your church league basketball team. The pants stripes are also just bad with this color combo and way too thick. This is just an example of a university that could use an updated look overall. There's also just something about the lighting in the Carrier Dome that makes the home uniforms look extra bad.
Here is our first example of the manufacturing brand really ruining an otherwise cool concept. (Hint: Adidas uniforms did not do well in this list) Everything is there: the color, the logo, all of it is great. The issue comes with Adidas over-designing every aspect. The helmet stripe is just way too massive. Then, Adidas goes with a gradient look for the alternate helmet which always looks awful. The shoulder stripes are not really stripes, but really just two lines that don't even wrap around the jersey. Same with the pants stripes. Also on full display here is Adidas's heather gray uniforms. Adidas has recently tried to add texture to their uniforms, and it really just doesn't look good. On a sweatshirt? Sure, but this is a football uniform. Those grey alternates are just so so so bad.
Some uniforms look good up close but don't work on TV. Arizona is a perfect example of that. It lacks proportions. The large numbers are just a bad look. The numbers for the home navy jerseys are dark red with no outline, so you can't see them on TV at all. I really don't understand how no one thought of that, but maybe it's because no one stays up to watch Arizona lose by a million every night.
Another miss was the grey uniforms. These just look so washed out. The navy doesn't pop and the red is way too dark to be the lighter accent color. Arizona needs to fix that shade of red desperately.
#121 Alabama Birmingham
Something about these uniforms felt very high school football to me. For starters, the gold color used is pretty muted, which is never a good thing for gold. Second, the Blazers logo on the helmet doesn't really stick out, which must be hard to do considering it's a freaking dragon breathing fire. The 'UAB' on the front of the jerseys also seems unnecessary. If you were to make the helmet logo more prominent then no one would be questioning which team they were watching. One mistake just leads to another. Also, the font seems a bit like an Arena Football team. I see what they were going for with the reptilian feel, but it just doesn't pop off the jerseys. For alternates, UAB does an amazing thing where they dedicate the uniforms to patients at the Birmingham Children's Hospital. This is the type of community involvement that you love to see, but the grey uniforms with pale lime green numbers and accents look more like a 7 on 7 uniform. The white helmets with the green dragon, however, is incredible.
Overall, these are just a bit disappointing considering the awesomeness that is the Blazers nickname.
How do you mess up a blue and red color combo? You give it a font that looks like it belongs with ULM's logo on a law firm's letterhead. And again, what is with the texture, Adidas? It just doesn’t work at all. That combined with numbers that are way too bulbous and rounded just doesn't make a good look. The random grey pants also look very washed out. I love a good clean look, but this ain't it. Stick to basketball, Kansas. Hey, at least they haven't tried to put the giant Jayhawk logo on the helmets again...yet.
#119 North Texas
Holy shoulder stripes. What are we doing here? The numbers on the shoulders are sitting right on top of not two but three shoulder stripes. The numbers even run into the stripes so there is no clear division between the two. The logo is again a bit corporate looking, but there's not much to work with when your nickname is the Mean Green, so that can be forgivable. The pants look sweet with the black and kelly green stripes. They aren't too thick and just add a pop of color.
As for the black alternates, the color combo really pops. The issue is with the numbers, they just look a bit unfinished without an outline and the font doesn't seem to match the 'mean green' font on the chest. Overall, the black uniforms are a decent look. But man oh man, the '70's throwbacks are....yikes. They should probably stay in the trunk in that attic collecting dust. What color green is that on the helmet? It's just gross, not to mention it doesn't match the green on the jerseys and pants which looks like it would glow in the dark. Just yucky.
#118 Georgia Southern
Talk about not even trying…. Hey Georgia Southern, you're not Penn State. You can’t just walk out there with no logo, no stripes, no nothing and expect to look anything like a major program. I understand the love for tradition, but you’re Georgia Southern. You don't have any tradition, sweetheart. You look like a poverty football program. Get yourself a logo better than the monstrosity you have and come back to us with something that looks a little better than my grandfather's middle school uniform.