College Football's 15 Worst Uniform Color Combinations

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2012

College Football's 15 Worst Uniform Color Combinations

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    While some uniforms classified as “ugly” earn their stripes from a design flaw, others are unsightly based solely on their color schemes.

    Yes, as it is in in the world of high fashion, words such as dye, tint and shade are crucial in the realm of college football couture.

    The following slideshow issues style warrants for 15 uniforms that violate the senses due to a color palette gone wrong.

    Though the actual games always supersede what is being worn on the field, some uniforms make it very difficult not to make a comment that is unrelated to the scoreboard.

    This presentation is a salute to on-field attire that causes us to talk about farcical themes such as tailoring, design and hue selection as opposed to the more weighty issues of TDs, YPCs and INTs.

Iowa State

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    Iowa State’s cardinal and gold color scheme is shared, at least from a labeling standpoint, with USC.

    But, why is it that when you look at USC’s football kit and then compare it to Iowa State’s, one makes you a bit dizzy while the other seems spirited and highly pleasing?

    It would seem to come down to two crucial factors. First, the Cyclones take on both the colors “cardinal” and “gold” seem to be substantially more vibrant, in an alarming way, than those utilized by the Trojans.

    Secondly, the Iowa State helmet seems shinier and brighter than USC’s and the effect is again, not good.

    The Cyclones’ color palette falls into the “over effervescent” category and could easily earn “worst in show” honors in the” use of red and gold” category.


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    Though it’s always easy to pick on the programs’ uniforms who utilize strong shades of orange (and we will certainly be doing that on this list), a gridiron outfit can’t totally offend based on a single color.

    What’s a bit distressing about the Clemson kit is not the use of orange, but instead it’s partner “regalia,” which contains undertones of purple.

    Regalia, in actuality, is a deep shade of purple, and when it is used, as the Tigers have done at times, to overshadow or dominate the orange, it all goes horribly wrong.

    Overall, Clemson has a great uniform, but special care should be taken not to let Mr. Purple ride rough shot on Mr. Orange.


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    Sometimes when you combine two very strong colors in a uniform application, it just doesn’t work.

    Overall, Hawaii has one of the least offensive on-field kits, from a color standpoint, of any team on this list.

    That said, the Warriors black and deep green combination makes it difficult to determine where one hue starts and the other stops.

    Even the jersey numbers are difficult to disseminate in the home-wear, and when combined with the dark helmet, there is nothing colorful about it.

    Are they cool? Yes.

    Are they too dark? Probably.


Rhode Island

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    Perhaps the most wistful take on the ever popular “ram” helmet, the swirly powder blue and white headgear worn by Rhode Island invokes images of a dreamy candy Shoppe at Disneyland.

    Rhode Island’s official color scheme is listed as Keaney blue, white and navy blue, and the Rams may be better served to dip their brush into the navy blue paint bucket more frequently.

    It’s the Houston Oilers blended with the St. Louis Rams in a colorful coup that leaves you wanting to play with your kids’ Smurf toys, which is never a good thing.

Boise State

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    Another team that uses orange without offending, Boise State’s color crimes are all about the specific hue of blue that they use in their athletic get-ups.

    Yes, the matching blue turf on their field doesn’t help, but at the end of day, the Bronco’s blue is borderline noxious, especially when over-served in a gluttonous portion.


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    Maryland’s 2011 uniform disaster was wrong on a million different levels, and you certainly can’t leave coloring off the list.

    The Terrapins colors are listed as red, white, black and gold, a catalog that makes you wonder if somebody put too many hues on the palette for what became an out of control uniform artist.

    Frankly speaking, it’s difficult to imagine somebody coming up with a more upsetting combination of four simple, fairly basic colors.


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    Though Tulsa’s tri-color kit isn’t anywhere in the same league, offensively speaking, as is Maryland’s, it still leaves you scratching your head.

    The Golden Hurricanes combo is listed as royal blue, old gold and crimson, and though it’s easy to understand the first two hues, what’s up with the third?

    In reality, the crimson color illustrates the overriding issue with Tulsa’s entire spirit package.


    Well, to start at the beginning, you’ve got a team from Oklahoma named the “Golden Hurricanes.”

    The obvious questions are how many hurricanes are in Oklahoma and then, what’s a “golden” hurricane (don’t answer that)?

    The intriguing “Hurricane” portion of the name is illustrated on the helmet by two crimson warning flags, the banners used to signal an actual weather-related hurricane.

    The color of crimson is then carried forward from the flags to an oft used helmet stripe, and then to the piping in the uniform pants.

    The bottom line with Tulsa’s uniform is it’s too many colors and it makes zero sense from a purely atmospheric approach.


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    More weather hi-jinks and color miss-use is found down in New Orleans, where Tulane plays in colors defined officially as olive green and sky blue.

    Even though the green Tulane uses doesn’t seem blazingly “olive,” it’s not as pleasing to the eye as perhaps one could hope for.

    What puts the Green Wave’s kit over the top is the sky blue stripes (drawn from their wave logo) that compliment both the helmet and then the pants stripe.

    Though oh so subtly used, it might be one of the more bizarre, and unique, color combos in the game.

    If Tulane was ever to utilize the sky blue as a major color component, expect the world of college football couture to explode with a “wave” of reaction.



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    As a disclaimer, I am on the side of the fence that appreciates the variety of Oregon’s endless array of uniform offerings.

    That said it would be criminal to make a list of the worst college football uniform color combinations and NOT include the Ducks.

    Indeed, while some of Oregon’s Nike spawned fashion is spot-on from a hue perspective, others make the eyes bulge out with the over use of color.

    In the case of the Ducks, the specific shade that usually affronts is yellow.

North Carolina

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    Traditionalists may bemoan the mention of the Tar Heels “Carolina blue” on our list, but if you are going to use powdery nursery colors, prepare to be mentioned.

    North Carolina’s color scheme is time-honored and well used, but still you’ve got to question a hue that is otherwise primarily used at baby showers.

North Texas

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    Though green is a color used successfully across a wide swath of our college football nation, what’s up with the green employed by the Mean Green?

    Yes, every year North Texas’ kit seems to move closer to a lighter, more vibrant and almost lime-like green, as opposed to the darker hue they used to sport on-field.

    The Mean Green’s color combo isn’t nearly as insulting as others mentioned here, but this is one to keep an eye on.

Miami (Fla.)

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    The bottom line is that when you partner the color orange with the color green, you have to be very, very careful.

    The Miami Hurricanes do a good job of mixing up their spirit colors most of the time, but the two shades are volatile enough that they’ve also gotten it way wrong.

    The challenge in Miami’s scheme is that the shade of green they’re working with is apt to bedazzle, in a bad way, if either of the two primary hues are overused.


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    Why it is that brown is such a tough color to accept as a sports uniform component?

    When you think of brown and sports, it’s the old uniforms of the Padres, the Browns and then the Wyoming Cowboys, not necessarily a hall of fame worthy fashion revue.

    Of these brown users, Wyoming’s delicate combination of brown and yellow is absolutely the bottom of the barrel.

    At least Cleveland uses a strong, dark brown and San Diego got rid of the color long ago, but for the Cowboys, well, it just doesn’t’ work.

    Wyoming’s take on athletic brown is not right and when combined with yellow, it’s all wrong.

Bowling Green

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    Another orange team on our list, the Bowling Green Falcons partner their citrus tribute with the ever dreaded hue of brown

    Though Bowling Green’s small brush strokes of brown are nowhere near as perplexing as those at Wyoming, the Falcons have to proceed with caution given what they have to work with.

    Bowling Green (an ironic name for an orange and black team) does a magnificent job of making their brown almost seem black, an approach they will be well-served to honor moving forward to avoid hitting the dreaded “ugly” listings.


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    Directing our attention to the FCS ranks and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, we find what might be the most alarming color combination in college football history.

    The Florida A&M Rattlers’ take what looks a bit like a Miami Hurricanes uniform and amps it up to an almost unbelievable level of dazzle.

    Yes, it’s green and orange in a shocking carnival of color, and it’s very difficult not to stare at.



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