Nike's Pro-Combat uniforms hit the spotlight hard last year, and the designer wasted no time unveiling their newest technologically advanced garbs for this NCAA season. I am breaking down the uniforms team-by-team to see what each one brings to the table, and I promise not to say the Miami uni's look the best; Even though they definitely have the most swagger.
Nike refers to these sets as their 'Pro Combat System of Dress,' they're not made simply to catch the eye. Every single uniform has attributes to make the wearer as light, agile, and comfortable as possible. This is attained through many alterations to the uniforms, that include lightweight DRI-Fit jerseys, titanium belt D-rings, DRI-Fit sweat-dispersing pants, and rear-leg ventilation panels to help the players perform better on the field.
Everything down to the gloves have been worked, as you can see above, all teams have the logo on the inside of their palms when faced outwards, as well as fighting quotes and logos inscribed in the cuffs. Each uniform set abides by a centric slogan relating intimately to each team uniquely as well.
Alabama's jersey is unique in a way that it retains the heritage of uniforms that came before it. Sometimes, not adding too much is just as good, if not better, than a full overhaul. Not every team needs to look like a carnival procession.
Just about all of the uniforms have some kind of pattern in the numbers on the jerseys, and they vary in how profound they are. What I really like about Bama's uniforms, is that the lettering pays homage to Bear Bryant, as his hound's tooth hat design can be found in the numbers, as well as in the helmet stripe. The right shoulder has a sewn-on American flag patch to honor servicemen, as the jersey will premier two days after Veteran's Day.
Grade: Simplistic, but aggressive. The pants look a bit too plain though. B+
Boise State is an enigma when it comes to jerseys, blue fields, and screwing up BCS standings, so it is only natural that this would be one of Nike's more interesting forays.
The neon blue is still there, but is off-set with a lot of gray space in the middle of the chest, I like gray jerseys for the most part, but am un-sure about the sudden stop-go layout of the uniform. The font used for the numbering is appealing, and the jersey does have a mean streak to it. The pants are also interesting with the 'B' logo on the knee, and the charging bronco half-logo on the hip, and flow real well.
The problems I have with this set dwell from the shoulders up. The bronco logo is huge on the right shoulder, and is obscured almost completely once the jerseys are on. This logo is very tiny compared to the bronco that takes up the entire left side of the helmet, and essentially makes the jersey look like someone just went crazy with a logo stamp all over it.
Grade: I love the color schemes, but so much more could have been done here. C+
University of Florida will wear this jersey, and hope that it aids John Brantley in efforts to get over departed QB Tim Tebow.
As with last season's dress, the gator skin print is back — everywhere. Sleeves, helmet, in the numbers, down the pant leg. You almost have to ask yourself if Nike would have made the entire uniform gator print if they could, but it flows nicely in just about all of those areas. The 'Gators' cursive logo is back on the helmet replacing the giant 'F' they have been tinkering with, which is great because there's just something about running around with a big 'F' on your head; especially when you represent a collegiate institution. (To the ones that like the 'F', it now resides much smaller, in a shield on the front of the jersey just below the nape of the neck.)
Grade: Nothing too risky here, but I think the uniform loses it's intensity and bite by over-using the gator skin pattern. Helmet is a big upgrade. B
The 'Canes have another interesting color set and logo. The split 'U' logo is renown just about anywhere, and has not only become one of the most popular logos despite it's simplicity, it has become one of the most feared ones as well.
Nike went with an interesting approach to the swag-rags that the Hurricanes will wear this year. The patterns on the outfit are back, and they work really well with this jersey because of their simplicity. The palm frond design can be found on the shoulders, legs, and upper half of the numbers, where the split also comes into play.
The back of the helmet and pants proudly display "The U," a long-time slogan of the Miami faithful, and the battle inspiration for this year's outfit.
Grade: Everyone loves crush-orange color, and it flows so nicely with the deep green on the shoulders and helmet, even more with the socks. It would have been nice to see the pant stripe reach all the way up the side of the jersey in my opinion. I still like the logo on the knee, and the palm fronds lattice appearance on the pants. A
The Buckeyes may have the best jerseys out of all the teams, and not because of just the design.
In 1942, the scarlet and gray was defended by players whom understood that after their championship season, they would most likely be drafted to serve in the war, if they didn't enlist themselves. In honor of this, the American flag patch returns with the stars facing forwards, (backwards of regular design,) a sign of respect to the players who fought for their team, and then went on to fight for their country.
On the back of the jersey, '1942' can be found inscribed at the top of the neck, and a bronze star medal on the back of the helmet honors 1942's MVP Charles Csuri, whom went from MVP to war veteran and received the bronze star for his heroism at the Battle of the Bulge. The old-school numbering style has a great appeal, and Nike didn't complicate things by adding a print inside them, although it would be very hard to ruin this jersey with everything positive that was done to it.
Grade: Everything clicks, and helps us all to remember that sometimes there's just football, and sometimes there's more than just football. A great design and great honor to those passed on, and could be a huge motivational lift for the team who should be proud to represent it's roots. A+
There isn't much I like about OSU's outfit, so I will be brief here.
The striped sleeves are a nice touch, and the font for the numbers is cool, but this uniform is missing something that I can't quite nail. The white pants seem out of place, and unlike most of the uniforms, the shoes really stand out and make the feet look huge. The whole jersey kind of makes the wearer look like a duck.
The numbers were inspired by the design of the campus itself, so it ties back to the school well, but that doesn't always make for a good football jersey.
Grade: they either look like ducks, (thankfully the face-mask isn't orange as well), or (GULP) even worse, defunct Cleveland Browns players. The lettering is nice, the stripes an interesting throwback, and you can't hate a jersey that has 'Beaver Nation' inscribed on it; but they don't offer enough saving grace. D
Pitt panthers working in a steel mill, blue collar aggressiveness, great fits for this team.
From a helmet accented to look like a hard hat, to a font that appears to look like steel beams used in heavy construction jobs, Pitt will take the field looking to derail opponents in a very tough attitude looking design.
The gold numbers stand out, and look great with the solder edging, the jersey wraps around the back to look like a safety vest, and this uniform looks as though it may have gotten the most time in it's design. there really isn't a bad thing I can say about this uniform, possibly the pants could have used a logo somewhere, but that is about it.
Grade: Pitt will come to fight in this get-up. Again, great to see jerseys that pay homage to those who paved the roads before us. A
TCU has an interesting mascot, the Horned Frog, and also had an interesting jersey selection last season. Add that to an interest in their part to shake up the BCS, and Nike had their job done for them.
Much like the Gators' get-ups, the Horned Frog skin 'armor' is everywhere on the jersey, but this time it comprises the entire pants, and I like it. The purple color scheme works wonders with the gray and black secondary colors, and the helmet looks good too. There is red accenting on the helmet stripe that Nike says represents who things, the blood the animal shoots from its eyes when attacked, and the bloodlines that unite the TCU nation.
As Dutch Meyer led his undefeated Horned Frogs out onto the field in 1939 to win a championship, he finished his speech with a great quote: "Fight 'em till hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice." Again, if that doesn't pump up a team looking to play BCS spoiler, than nothing will.
Grade: A good design, lots of armor, and a quote to get behind and fight behind. Good color scheme, one of the more elaborate jerseys this season. B+
Va Tech has some great things going on in this jersey, and then they have some muddling things going on as well.
The orange and black look awesome next to each other, accented with the purple highlights, and present a uniform that does well to show the opposition of VT's technical prowess.
Back are the designs inside the numbers, as well as a gradient effect with them down the helmet stripe, around the shoulders, and down the pants. The gradient is an interesting view close up, where the pattern has the look of a motherboard, or circuit board that reflects the school's technical calling.
The Hokie logo, 'Ut Prosim,' (translated as "That I May Serve,") is inscribed on the back of the helmet and pants, another strong battle cry.
Grade: Looks cool up close, but far away it kind of all blurs together into a fading in-and-out mess. At least the neon orange shoes aren't out of touch too much here as they were in the OSU uniforms. B-
WVU's jersey has a block-ish and stocky feel, which flows nicely with the overall look of the outfit. Throughout the jersey, Nike utilizes the Mountaineer's past rich mining heritage with print that looks like coal smudging, again located on the numbers, side panels, pretty much every place that is black has the smudging effect; including the helmet. Think that coal smudge is hard to replicate? You're right, it kind of looks like the jersey is smoking a bit, or just dirty all over.
Nike uses university gold as an accent color here, citing the color of canaries miners used to bring into the tunnels with them to test toxic levels as they excavated.
Brilliant yellow shoes make feet look like giant bananas. Just throwing that out there.
Grade: I like the block feel this jersey exudes, especially with the black on white accents, but the smudging is hard to make out, and the jersey is pretty generic. The shoes are a travesty. C+