SEC Football: Ranking the Best Uniforms in the Conference

Jim Sullivan@jsully711Featured ColumnistApril 15, 2012

SEC Football: Ranking the Best Uniforms in the Conference

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    When it comes to college football, the SEC is the class of the nation. Taking home the last six BCS National Championships, the conference seems unbeatable on the gridiron heading into the 2012 season.

    On the fashion side of things, however, one might be surprised to find that the Southeastern Conference is actually one of the most stylish in the country. Last year, multiple programs brought in new uniforms including LSU, Kentucky and Georgia, putting the league on the forefront of the industry.

    With the addition of both Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC this upcoming season, the conference has built upon its storied ranks with two solid programs. The Tigers are bringing in some classy new threads to the league, while the Aggies look to stay timeless with their traditional maroon and white.

    In the college football fashion industry, the battle between "old-fashioned classic" and "modern" rages on with both sides refusing to concede in the slightest. The SEC has both types of universities in its ranks, allowing for a mixing of styles like nowhere else in the country.   

    As many SEC universities finish up their spring practices while others rumble on through April, we take a look at their uniforms and rank them from worst to first.

    Each ranking is of my own opinion. I am no "king" of the fashion world and, therefore, will most likely be considered wrong by a majority of any who read this. I hope you understand my plight and express your opinions openly about my SEC uniform rankings.    

14) Ole Miss

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    Sporting the classic red, white and blue, you may be surprised to see the Rebels so low on this list. However, like its program on the field, Mississippi takes dead last in my uniform rankings. 

    Here's a fun fact for all of you out there: The Rebels' true "colors" are Harvard Crimson and Yale Blue, not just red and blue. Can anyone say arrogance?

    Furthermore, I'm not a fan of the bland gray pants for every single uniform. While the jersey will rotate from solid Yale Blue to Harvard Crimson on a regular basis for home games, the gray pants are a constant home or away. The stripes on the side do add a bit of flavor though.

    To top the whole design off, however, is the cursive logo of "Ole Miss" on the helmet. Put simply, I am not a fan for a multitude of reasons ranging from "it looks sissy" to "over-the-top attempt at classy." 

    Football is a tough sport where literally every inch has to be worked for, but the Rebels try to fancy up the most difficult division in the nation with cursive and colors like Yale Blue and Harvard Crimson.     

13) Florida

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    While Florida perfected the whole idea of using two colors that complement each other for their uniforms (orange and blue), the Gators went the completely wrong direction when the shades of each were chosen.

    It may just be me, but a deeper orange and a navy blue looks much classier than a blindingly neon orange and a royal blue. For example, I give you the Denver Broncos and their color-wheel approved clash of orange and blue.

    As with Ole Miss, why did the Gators feel the necessity to use cursive on their main helmet design? Florida has a brilliant, solid "F" design that's been used on a fair number of occasions, giving the helmet an old-fashioned but timeless look.

    To finish off my criticisms, I'll zero in on the green gator logo on the upper right-hand side of the jersey. If Florida is going to continue to use the bright orange and royal blue combination, mixing in more of that neon green would be a solid improvement. By that, I mean adding some piping in said color or even an outline for the numbers.  

12) Texas A&M

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    One of the two newcomers to the SEC, Texas A&M has been sporting maroon and white since its founding in 1876. For the most part, the Aggies have neglected to change the uniform even in the slightest during the modern era, sticking to the good old-fashioned A&M traditional maroon and white.

    As an Aggie myself, I will be very clear when I say that I am not proposing getting rid of this classic look ever. I am, however, a bit fed up with how undyingly boring Texas A&M is in the style department. 

    The Aggies haven't added any piping, helmet stripes or shoulder designs to the uniform, giving it an almost "to classic" look. The only true alternate for A&M is the gray pants the Aggies wear once every full moon which, in all honestly, doesn't exactly give this program a modern feel. 

    Perhaps with new head coach Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M will begin to explore some new uniform designs. His seemingly insatiable desire to revamp the program definitely shouldn't stop with the gridiron outfits his team dons every Saturday. 

11) Tennessee

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    Very similar to Texas A&M, the Volunteers seem to have neglected any desire to change with the times. Their classic faded orange and white will never go out of style in my book, but some upgrades to the uniforms would be a fantastic way to revamp this program.

    The jersey design sports an extremely solid color with no piping, stripes or anything of that nature. The helmet is also very plain with just the logo and a single mid-line stripe on a white background.

    Tennessee could do all kinds of things with its colors ranging from just some simple, small upgrades to huge, noteworthy changes. With a look as classic as this, don't expect a change anytime soon though.  

10) Vanderbilt

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    While the Commodores have never exactly posed any kind of major threat on the gridiron, they at least didn't look bad while getting beaten down by the SEC powerhouses. Sporting three different jersey variations and two helmet colors, Vandy is most definitely looking sharp.

    As a personal fan of the Commodores' perseverance, I take comfort in knowing that they have evolved with the modern age. Somewhat new head coach James Franklin has rocketed this formerly despondent team into a bowl-contender, a feat easier said than done.

    The three jersey colors that range from black to white to gold along with the gold and black helmet designs allow Vandy a ton of different uniform combinations, each unique within its own. As for SEC style, Vanderbilt is certainly on the forefront of fashion. 

9) Georgia

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    As far as color schemes go, the Bulldogs easily have one of the best. Black and red gives this program a signature look that is known throughout the nation for being fierce, deadly and powerful.

    Despite that, however, Georgia has been slightly uncreative with their uniforms. The Nike Pro Combat outfits from last season's opener unleashed the Bulldogs into the modern era of style, but no true change has been levied on their classic design.

    Considering that Georgia is arguably one of the most storied programs in the league, this classic look should stick for ages to come. Unfortunately, that won't earn them any style points in my book.

    Keep an eye out for the tight black jerseys the Bulldogs donned a few years ago to make a resurgence (hopefully). 

8) LSU

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    As the only major university out of Louisiana, the Tigers took it upon themselves to go bold in their color choices. Looking very similar to the Los Angeles Lakers, LSU took a seemingly disgusting clash of colors and turned it into a nationally known brand.

    The jersey design is almost perfect as I would prefer to have the shoulder stripes loop all the way around. Additionally, adding another color to the pants (besides the usual gold) would give this uniform some flexibility.

    The largest problem I have with LSU has to be with the helmets.The stripe design is well done, but from then on, I have mixed feelings, particularly with the logo. The emboldened "LSU" would be the perfect way to round out this design, yet the Tigers ruined it by adding the Tiger logo beneath the lettering.

    This cramps the letters onto the top of the helmet and makes the overall design somewhat awkward because the inside of the emblem is the same color as the helmet itself.  

7) Alabama

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    When it comes to classic college football uniforms, there are two big name universities who immediately come to our minds: Penn State and Alabama. The overall blandness of the outfit is what makes it so fantastic. 

    The solid crimson jerseys with white numbers will never go out of style, while the double-striped pants should remain in their wardrobe forever. The one front in which Alabama has pushed the limit, however, has been the gloves and they have done a fantastic job of it.

    Nike revolutionized the piece of the uniform with the idea to install the logo on the palms of players' gloves, allowing for them to conjoin their hands to form the design. Alabama was on the forefront of this innovation, getting huge attention when Mark Ingram showed his hands to the camera a few years back, flashing the cursive "A" to the nation via TV.

    To finish off this uniform design is my favorite part of the entire outfit. While every Alabama player looks the same in these threads, the defining feature of Crimson Tide football is the unique number on each helmet. An overall brilliant design, Alabama gets top marks in my book.  

6) Mississippi State

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    Sporting the same color scheme as Texas A&M, the Bulldogs of the West Division have devised a way to make their uniforms stand out. Overall, it may seem somewhat simple, yet it gives this whole outfit a thriving nature.

    First, the solid helmets and recognizable logo. In college football, the solid block "M" is associated with only one school; Michigan. To veer away from that, however, the Bulldogs did a fantastic job of not losing their state's identity while also adding some flair to their logo. 

    Moving on to the jerseys, MSU has given it a brilliant modern feel while also remaining classic. By sticking to a timeless design while also adding some small features such as shoulder numbers and piping, Mississippi State has allowed their uniforms to slowly evolve instead of rushing into some wildly "out there" design.

    On a separate note, the only change I would make would be for MSU to wear the black jerseys they donned against Florida a few years back more.

5) Arkansas

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    Similar in multiple ways to Mississippi State, the Razorbacks have slowly evolved their uniforms over a long period of time. With Nike's help, small details have allowed this overall design to flourish in the modern college football world.

    The helmets are just a plain, solid cardinal with the logo stamped on each side. With no need to get overly enthusiastic here, the Hogs have white face masks and a that neither detract nor add any big feelings.

    The jerseys are, unfortunately, completely solid. If there was one change I could make to the upper body for Arkansas, it would be to add in some piping. However, I will admit that the logo on the shoulder as well as the emboldened lettering in large font above the numbers gives this jersey a top-notch quality.

    As for the pants, I would allow the Razorbacks to have another color. Only having white is somewhat boring, but at least the added logo and lettering running vertically looks good. Overall, not too shabby a look for the Hogs.  

4) Auburn

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    Where Florida failed Auburn succeeded. Emphasizing the deep navy blue over the surprisingly bright orange has made this design into a winner right off the bat.

    To start things off, let's take a look at the jerseys. The dark blue is classic while the triple shoulder stripes are neither too much nor too little. Adding the numbering to the top of the shoulders looks solid as well, making the only area that I would improve the "AUBURN" lettering; I would just make it larger.

    The pants are, like Arkansas', boring. The singular color with the triple stripe is a bit too lackluster for my taste, as I would love to see dark blue pants to go with their white jerseys. 

    Finally, the helmets round off this whole entourage perfectly. Sporting a white design that will never go out of style, Auburn stays consistent by adding yet another triple stripe to the outfit. The logo is simple yet elegant, once again emphasizing the dark blue over the orange. 

3) Kentucky

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    One of the many teams that got a complete makeover last season, the Wildcats feature football uniforms that are more than stellar. The designs gave this usually "bottom-of-the-barrel" program some flair.

    Using these black uniforms more than once last year, UK changed up its helmet design by basically flipping the color scheme, putting blue where white once was and vice versa. 

    The black jerseys, however, are what catches the attention of any viewer. As a huge supporter of adding black into most any football design, I immediately fell in love with how sharp this looks. Nike did well by adding the blue checkered patch to the shoulders so that Kentucky didn't lose its identity. 

    Furthermore, the collar looks fantastic with the school logo and jutting lines, while the large "KENTUCKY" print underneath matches the size and length of the numbers. Overall, top-notch job done by Nike and the Wildcats with these uniforms.  

2) South Carolina

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    Over the course of the modern age in college football, the Gamecocks have evolved their uniforms to stand as one of the most stylish in the country. Working with Under Armour, USC would essentially be top dog on this list if not for the new addition of Missouri.

    To start things off, we take a look at the headgear for South Carolina. The simplistic white with the triple stripe looks solid while the logo, emphasizing both colors of black and garnet, captures the essence of the university.

    The Gamecocks have three different colors for their pants, each with a thin vertical stripe on each leg and a large patch on the back of the thigh. This variety gives the coaches and players many a combination, something uncommon for many programs.

    Finally, we move on to the jerseys. Sporting three colors as well, all the same as the pants, South Carolina has attuned the modern style into each one. The bold "CAROLINA" stands out while the shoulder design, which includes a logo on the side, the number on top and a double stripe from the neck to the rim, looks top-notch.

    Overall, this uniform design doesn't go over the top like Maryland's or Oregon's, but establishes that South Carolina isn't too old-fashioned or behind the times. Personally, I love it and grant it the second spot on this list. 

1) Missouri

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    Finally, we finish off with the newest member of the SEC East, Missouri. Until recently, the Tigers looked much different, only just emerging with these new uniforms for the 2013 season. Working with Nike, Mizzou transformed their brand to feature the Tiger logo over the bold "M" while also changing the tone and brilliance of the gold for their scheme. 

    This photo shows one of many designs, another of which is featured on the first slide of this article. As shown, the helmet's logo is different, having the Tiger emblem first and foremost with a double gold stripe up top. Some of the other helmet designs have a much larger Tiger emblem that basically engulfs the entire side of the headgear. 

    The jerseys have morphed in much more gray so as to add a different tint that Missouri's usual black. The much more yellow-gold they use, as opposed to the former dull-gold, outlines most of the main features. 

    Still using the commonly known name of "MIZZOU" on the jerseys, the Tigers look awesome with these new designs. As with South Carolina, they aren't over the top but do offer a modern feel that fans of this era love to see.