College Football Teams That Could Use New Uniforms
Uniforms are a major part to the, ahem, fabric of today's college football. There are entire websites, like Paul Lukas' excellent Uni Watch and Chris Creamer's SportsLogos.net, dedicated to tracking uniform changes and creating concepts for teams in college football and every other major sport in the world.
Programs big and small have found in the last couple of decades that updating their uniforms can generate a huge amount of buzz from players, fans, alumni and the all-important demographic—potential recruits.
But there are a handful of schools in college football that need a new look, either because they have stuck to the classics for far too long or because they made a move that needs to be fixed immediately.
Here are, in no particular order, eight schools that could use new uniforms. Let us know what you think about these suggestions, or submit your own ideas in the comments below.
Another year, another cry out to the Miami RedHawks to get rid of these eyesores that were unveiled before the start of the 2013 season.
The helmet, perhaps the most shocking part of the uniforms, claims to be a feather pattern. But the design of shiny red and silver looks like flames, claw marks or an extreme bowling ball. Throw in a similarly colored M logo right above the face mask, and you have the busiest helmet in all the land.
The team took it a step further by spelling "Miami"—with an extremely long A in the middle—across its shoulder pads. The entire design has been routinely called the worst in college football since it debuted in 2013, and Miami has gone 2-22 since the switch.
Miami's M logo is unique, and it could be the basis for a modern uniform set that isn't quite as ambitious as this one. And perhaps a change of style could start a change of fortunes for the RedHawks—it can't possibly get worse than this.
Western Michigan Broncos
Team mottos on college football uniforms are nothing new—they can be printed somewhere small on a helmet or somewhere around the collar.
The Western Michigan Broncos, on the other hand, take head coach P.J. Fleck's "Row the Boat" motto a little too far with their uniforms. The Broncos' standard uniforms aren't bad, but the two boat-rowing alternates Adidas has created for the program are just out of control.
The one pictured above from the Broncos' 2014 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl appearance feature a confusing oar pattern on the shoulders in addition to a bad white and gold helmet. And the one that started it all, 2013's white helmet with oar stickers and a plain white and brown uniform, was goofy on top of boring.
It's an important motto for the team, but have you ever seen a horse row a boat?
Calm down with the rowing horse uniforms, Western Michigan.
Kansas Jayhawks are another struggling school that Adidas has tried to do too much with in the uniform department, and the results have been less than pleasant.
The program rolled out a few new uniform options last season, including a dark gray set that didn't go well with the blue and red the Jayhawks normally sport. But the worst one by far was the "Crimson Chrome" alternate, one that featured a bad oversized helmet logo, an all-red color scheme and some chrome accents.
The Jayhawks are moving in a new direction on the field, hiring Texas A&M Aggies assistant and recruiting specialist David Beaty as head coach. They also should move in a new direction on their uniforms.
The Jayhawk logo doesn't quite work well on a helmet, and a return to old "KU" logo from its Orange Bowl-winning days would be a step in the right direction. With the red, white and blue color scheme, it should be easy for Adidas and Kansas to combine for a clean uniform style, something the school's basketball program has enjoyed—for the most part.
The SMU Mustangs have made plenty of changes to their uniforms over the past decade, and the team made the switch from Adidas to Nike in 2012. The program has gone with sleeve stripes, newer shoulder stripes, navy helmets, new stripes on their white helmets and even black jerseys.
In 2014, the Mustangs went back to the classic "Pony Express" look with plain jerseys and block lettering. The changes coincided with one of the worst seasons in college football history, as SMU lost its first 11 games by a combined score of 476-106 before avoiding the wrong kind of perfect season with a close win against the UConn Huskies.
But everything is changing for SMU, as former Clemson Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris is now the new head coach in Dallas. Even though SMU and its fans like the throwback style, the Mustangs should go for a look to match the new energy and attitude surrounding the program.
If Morris' tweeted picture of a matte blue helmet with a patriotic pony and chrome face mask is any indication, Nike might be doing just that for SMU in 2015.
Syracuse, we need to talk about what happened to your uniforms.
Last season, Nike's redesign for the Orange football program got out of hand as it created an eye-opening set of uniforms. Syracuse's official team website gave reasons for the changes—the 44-degree line patterns were meant to honor the school's "string of legends including Jim Brown, Floyd Little and Ernie Davis," and the custom numbers were taller and skinnier to reflect the style of buildings 250 miles away in New York City.
But Syracuse's block S is central to its identity, and it didn't look right on uniforms that had new and off-the-wall lettering and numbering. An updated take on the classic triple-stripe formula would have been great after years of the bland Nike piping, but these new uniforms were just way too much.
The Orange are getting something right by announcing on their Twitter account that they will actually wear orange this season, but it's part of this awful rebranding. Syracuse should have hit the reset button here, especially after it went 3-9 in these uniforms.
With Will Muschamp out and Jim McElwain in, the Florida Gators could take advantage of the different buzz around Gainesville and update their uniforms. There are two different routes Florida, which has long had the block-numbered jerseys and the classic script "Gators" helmets, could go here—and they're both via its two biggest rivals.
The Florida State Seminoles embraced a full Nike rebrand to mixed reactions last season. The Seminoles kept some of the traditions from their traditional uniforms but made some wholesale updates, like sleeker logos, matte finishes and a new alternate helmet.
Two years ago, the Georgia Bulldogs updated their lettering and numbering while maintaining the iconic look of their helmets and uniforms. The result was a modern take on an old classic, and it has turned out to be one of the better updates for any major program in the last decade.
As FSU and Georgia have shown recently, Florida wouldn't have to give up some of its popular uniform features in order to create some more excitement among players, fans and recruits. The Gators have used Nike alternates in the past—some good, some bad—but a full redesign would be a great and bold move for the program.
While the Iowa Hawkeye logo is one of the most recognizable in the game, Iowa's style on the field suffers from being exactly like the NFL team from Pittsburgh.
That's a shame because the combination of the logo and the black and gold color scheme would make an Iowa rebrand one of the best around. The contrast between the two colors pop on the field, and it would be interesting to see what ideas Nike would have for the Hawkeyes.
Now, Iowa has tried to go away from the Pittsburgh Steeler sleeves in the past, and some of the results were not appealing. But this throwback jersey and pants combo from 2012 shows that Iowa could have a different style and still look sharp with those colors.
A new look for Iowa would bring a school big on tradition into the modern age of college football uniforms. If Nike doesn't go overboard with the redesign, it would make fans both young and old happy.
Penn State Nittany Lions
The Penn State Nittany Lions have a classic look on the football field that will probably never make a permanent change. The white helmets, navy jerseys and white pants with the minimum amount of striping possible are going to stay.
But the Nittany Lions should change it up at least once.
Almost every other college football powerhouse near Penn State has shown willingness to tweak its style for a game or two. The Michigan Wolverines, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish—especially Notre Dame—have embraced alternates from time to time, and there's no reason why James Franklin's program shouldn't welcome some uniform updates.
According to Onward State's Tim Gilbert, former head coach Joe Paterno rejected a change that would have put the Nittany Lion logo on the team's helmets in the 1980s. Penn State could go that route or take a page from its basketball team and wear black and pink—the school's original colors—for a game. Anything different would be a welcome surprise.
Justin Ferguson is an on-call college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.