By Phil Hecken
OK, kids — it’s that time of year again. That wonderful time of year known as “Bowl Season.” And as I’ve done for the past several years (to varying degrees of success), I shall pick the winners of the bowl games (against the spread), based on who has the better uniform set worn throughout the 2015 season.
Some of the games will have a slam-dunk winner for best uni, some will be pretty easy to see, others are a tough call — and some feature teams that are both so bad…neither team deserves to be picked.
As always, you can click on the graphics to see a full size. In all cases, every attempt was made to include all uniform combos worn by each team throughout the year. In some instances, a team with a better uniform in general, but who goes off the grid with too many “special” unis (or fails to use school colors) will not get the nod over a lesser-attired team. It’s not a question of how many unis and combos a school has — it’s who wears them better.
I know Paul’s not a big fan of corporate-douchebaggery associated with Bowl Names. But for ease of reference, I’m going to refer to the Bowls as their names appear here. OK? OK.
This year there are a RECORD 40 bowl games (plus the National Championship/Playoff Final Game), so I’ll break this into two parts — today is the first 20 Bowls. Next time I’ll have the remaining 20.
So, without further ado, here goes nothing…
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Arizona vs. New Mexico
Saturday, December 19, 2015; 2:00 pm ESPN
Spread: Arizona is a 10 point favorite
While the Wildcats of Arizona have stuck to school colors of red, white and blue this year, their uniforms are still wretched — shitty fonts, crummy color-fades on the sleeve caps (and on the numbers on their white jerseys). New Mexico’s duds aren’t great, and they have that TNDL (team name down leg) thing going. It’s a tough call, but you gotta take the 10 points and take the Lobos, who get minor bonus points for working turquoise into one of their unis.
The Pick: New Mexico +10
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Utah (22) vs. BYU
Saturday, December 19, 2015; 3:30 pm ABC
Spread: Utah is a 2.5 point favorite
This is an easy one — in the Sin City battle between two pretty LDS schools, BYU’s unis are classics. That’s not to say that Utah’s are bad (in fact, I kinda like them), and they might take some other matchups…but not this one. BYU’s beautiful navy and white, with northwestern stripes (and a royal “throwback” alt!) make this an easy choice.
The Pick: BYU +2.5
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Ohio
Saturday, December 19, 2015; 5:30 pm ESPN
Spread: App State is an 8 point favorite
I love Ohio’s basic green and white unis — but hate the fact that they will still throw in a BFBS uni every once in a while. App State, bowl eligible after last year’s move to the parents’ table, has a really nice set of unis…in black and gold. It’s another tough call, and normally I’d go with Ohio, but that BFBS uni annoys me enough to award the better set to App State. Give the 8 and take the Mountaineers.
The Pick: App State -8
AutoNation Cure Bowl: Georgia State vs. San Jose State
Saturday, December 19, 2015; 7:00 pm CBSSN
Spread: San Jose State is a 3 point favorite
This is a bit of a rarity — TWO teams that wore a grand total of four different uni combos each during the regular season. Be still my heart. Now, I’m usually not one to complain (ever) that a uniform is “too” boring, but Georgia State makes a good case. SJS, with its nice combo of gold and royal, doesn’t overdo it with bells and whistles either. It’s a pretty easy choice here: take San Jose State, and give the field goal
The Pick: San Jose State -3
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech
Saturday, December 19, 2015; 9:00 pm ESPN
Spread: La Tech is a 3 point favorite
I actually like the concept of Arkansas State’s uniforms. Unfortunately, that’s as far as my like goes — too many combos, an anthracite-for-anthracite’s-sake alt…and those damn adidas treadmarks. La Tech, on the other hand, plays up their red-white-and-blue just right. Not a difficult call here. LA LA LA LA LA.
The Pick: Louisiana Tech -3
Miami Beach Bowl: USF vs. Western Kentucky
Monday, December 21, 2015; 2:30 pm ESPN
Spread: WKU is a 3 point favorite
Both teams sport ‘flashy’ unis, but the “home” team can probably get away with it a bit better. Those shiny helmets WKU wears are um…shiny. As much as I love “Hilltoppers” as a nickname, it’s not enough to overcome the kinda crappy looking unis. USF, who just got a redesign this year, actually pulls together the green and gold quite well. I could do without the multiple helmets and the Astro tequila-guts alts, but even that’s not too bad. It’s close here, but So Fla gets the edge.
The Pick: USF +3
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron vs. Utah State
Tuesday, December 22, 2015; 3:30 pm ESPN
Spread: Utah State is a 6.5 point favorite
Ugh. This is one of the times I’m not upset I’ll be in the office and unable to watch a game — because this one will be brutal. Where do I start? The Zippers are just awful (with the exception of the ‘roo on the back of the helmet, that’s OK). But the rest of their look is putrid. Most teams lost the collar horns and side panels half a decade ago, but Akron wears them with pride. Too many alts too. The whole thing is a mess. Utah State, OTOH, has a pretty solid set (save for the TNOL on the gray alts), but they wore 12 different combos this season. That’s 10 too many. Both teams have uni problems, but I’ll give the slight “edge” to the Aggies.
The Pick: Utah State -6.5
Boca Raton Bowl: Temple (24) vs. Toledo
Tuesday, December 22, 2015; 7:00 pm ESPN
Spread: Temple is a 1 point favorite
After years of having pretty abominable unis, Toledo seems to have settled on a pretty decent set, and their navy/gold colorscheme is solid. Another Oregon-wannabe with too many combos takes them down a peg, but still, they’re not bad. Temple, shockingly, I LOVE — I thought I’d hate how they turned their tiled stripes into a gradient (same with sleeve cap) — but it’s really grown on me. And I’m not normally a fan of cherry, but there’s something about that Temple red. If ONLY they didn’t have that BFBS…it would be a slam dunk. While they lose points for that, they hold on overall here. I’m giving a hoot.
The Pick: Temple -1
San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State vs. NIU
Wednesday, December 23, 2015; 4:30 pm ESPN
Spread: Boise State is a 7.5 point favorite
I’ve loved Boise’s unis for a while — even when they wore the “file folder” jerseys a few years back — for the royal and orange colors alone. Then they dabbled both in a BFBS and GFGS uni set, and mixed and matched those in (part of that was due to the time frame where they weren’t allowed to wear their all blue uni on their blue turf, but that’s not a problem now). They still wear the BFBS, and they don’t wear the orange enough, but it’s still up there for me. NIU wants to be Oregon with the number of different combos they trot out, and those black tops have the awful treadmarks. But they did work in two throwbacks this year, which was nice. Still, not enough to overcome Boise.
The Pick: Boise State -7.5
GoDaddy Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Georgia Southern
Wednesday, December 23, 2015; 8:00 pm ESPN
Spread: Bowling Green is a 7.5 point favorite
This is a tough one. BGSU got the rejected Browns uniforms this year, and they are the better for it. This is how you do brown and orange. A few too many combos for my liking, but overall it’s a real nice new set. Georgia Southern — ah, you combine two of my favorite teams (Alabama and Penn State) so nicely. And you wore all of two combos the entire season. So nice. Too nice, almost. But not quite. Gimme GS and the points.
The Pick: Georgia Southern +7.5
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Western Michigan
Thursday, December 24, 2015; Noon ESPN
Spread: WMU is a 3 point favorite
Here’s another game I’m glad I won’t be watching. Both of these teams have really bad unis (I’m not sure what it is about MTSU I don’t like — their blue looks too much like Air Force, and the mixing of black and metallic helmets doesn’t help. WMU doesn’t actually have bad colors — the BFBS and metallic helmets ruin it though (but bonus points for the oars on the jersey — part of their “Row The Boat” mantra). Still, the brown is a bit too dark for my liking. This one is literally a coin flip. Heads for MTSU, tails for WMU. It came up tails.
The Pick: Western Michigan -3
Hawai’i Bowl: Cincinnati vs. San Diego State
Thursday, December 24, 2015; 8:00 pm ESPN
Spread: Cincinnati is a 1.5 point favorite
This is another game I won’t be watching — but that’s because George Bailey needs to save the world or something. Both teams got new unis this past year (and Cincy a new supplier) — and both proceeded to go in opposite directions — Cincy with many combos (including some cross-hatch fencing or something), while the Aztecs went with well, an Aztec motif, and one home, one road. I think both teams upgraded, but I love what swooshie did with SDSU. I’ll put down my cash on them.
The Pick: San Diego State +1.5
St. Petersburg Bowl: Marshall vs. UConn
Saturday, December 26, 2015; 11:00 am ESPN
Spread: Marshall is a 4 point favorite
UConn got a new uniform set this year (and the last one was horrid), and it’s pretty nice. Very basic, with a gray alt (I guess gray is a school color now). But it has been a good upgrade. Marshall has some purdy green unis, and they don’t play around (although they did add a black top this year for the 40th anniversary of the plane crash). It’s a school color, so I won’t hold it against them. The game should be a pretty good looking one to kick off Boxing Day at 11 am, and a tough call, uni-wise. I’m going with UConn only because Marshall white hat looks off with an otherwise all green uni. It’s not bad, just off (to my eye)
The Pick: Connecticut +4
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Miami (FL) vs. Washington State
Saturday, December 26, 2015; 2:00 pm CBS
Spread: Wazzu is a 3 point favorite
This will be a colorful game (unless Wazzu goes all gray). Miami’s new unis took some getting used to, but they’ve grown on me. They’re still not great, since adidas hasn’t figured how to properly affix numbers and stripes to their uniforms, but they got the orange and green down. WSU has a beautiful candy apple red they really need to wear every game — not wear two different shades of gray, school color or not. Washington State’s dreary enough (joking), their unis don’t need to match. Gotta go with green and orange here, but it’s not an easy call. Both of these unis need work, but they’re getting there.
The Pick: Miami +3
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Washington
Saturday, December 26, 2015; 2:20 pm ESPN
Spread: Washington is an 8.5 point favorite
If I were basing this pick solely on uni combos worn, it’s a no-brainer. But I’m not. However, Southern Miss got themselves some nice new unis this year. Too bad those pants are so shiny — damn, you can see your reflection in those. Hey Russell, is that durene? Still, they did a nice job with So Miss this year (they’re new). The Huskies of Washington still have too many combos (you’re NOT Oregon, OK?), but had they stuck with just the purple and gold, I’d be ok with that. The additional BFBS ruins it.
The Pick: Southern Miss +8.5
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Duke vs. Indiana
Saturday, December 26, 2015; 3:30 pm ABC
Spread: Indiana is a 2 point favorite
Duke is one of those teams who gives those with OCD a break. Not only do they mix and match their blue, white and black with pretty equal abandon, any of the three uni elements (helmet, jersey & pants) can be paired with any of the others and will look fine. I’m not a fan of the BFBS (it’s NOT a school color, even if their spec sheets say it is). But whatever. Indiana is an interesting case study — they actually don’t have anything but red and white tops and bottoms, but are able to wear a different look every week because they have so many helmets (or rather, decals), but it still looks like they have at least 5 different shells. No one else does this, so I kinda like it. Keep the unis basic, but have many different hats. Interesting. Is it enough to tip the scales? Yes.
The Pick: Indiana -2
Camping World Independence Bowl: Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech
Saturday, December 26, 2015; 5:45 pm ESPN
Spread: VT is a 13.5 point favorite
Pretty big spread for Beamer’s swansong, but what about the unis? Well…I’ve never particularly liked Tulsa’s unis, and now they snuck a bit of BFBS in there. For a team known as the “Golden” Hurricane, they don’t seem to have much gold, and if they have to have it, a shiny metallic helmet isn’t the best way to go. VT, on the other foot, still is a bit over the place design wise. Do the pants have stripes or not? Will you play up the orange? What’s with those odd helmets? And why the Beamer-special BFBS uni (which is actually not too bad, as far as BFBS unis go). In a not-as-close-as-you-might-think pick, I choose Hokie.
The Pick: Virginia Tech -13.5
Foster Farms Bowl: Nebraska vs. UCLA
Saturday, December 26, 2015; 9:15 pm ESPN
Spread: UCLA is a 6.5 point favorite
Ahhh. The battle of the trademark treadmarks. Nebraska and UCLA both have those hefty bag jerseys, although at least Nebraska’s “regular” uniforms don’t suffer from the “broken” number/stripe syndrome. Their one BFBS alt, however does. Of course, UCLA’s once gorgeous unis are now almost unrecognizable. It’s sad how adidas has really ruined these classics. At least we can count on Nebraska having a semi-decent uni in this Bowl, so that’s who gets the selection.
The Pick: Nebraska +6.5
Military Bowl: Navy (21) vs. Pittsburgh
Monday, December 28, 2015; 2:30 pm ESPN
Spread: Navy is a 3.5 point favorite
I never thought I’d pay UA any kind of compliments, but their treatment of the Navy uniform has been pretty outstanding. They stuck with the basics all year, and gave them one special uni for the Army/Navy game, and that was not some insane getup either. Pitt, now that they have the script Pitt on their lids, looks pretty good too, but not nearly as nice as Navy. This one’s an easy call.
The Pick: Navy -3.5
Quick Lane Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Minnesota
Monday, December 28, 2015; 5:00 pm ESPN
Spread: Minnesota is a 5 point favorite
Wow — depending upon which combo each team wears, they could end up looking like mirror images of one another. And it’s probably not gonna happen, but it would be great if neither team wore a white jersey — because either squad could easily wear their gold top as a “light” jersey and the contrast with the maroon would be fine. It’s a close call here, but Minnie has a BFBS alt that is totally unnecessary, and I like the Chips’ pants stripes. So they’re my call.
The Pick: Central Michigan +5
Well folks — there you have it. Part I of my annual Bowl picking by uni indulgence. Feel free to disagree with my choices, and if you lose money betting this way, well, don’t bet money on sports. I’ll be back with the final set of Bowls next weekend.
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards
I’m pleased to continue with a favorite weekend feature here at Uni Watch, “Classic Ballpark Scoreboards,” which are created by Gary Chanko. You probably know Gary best for his wonderful colorizations, but he has been a solid contributor for many years, and this is his new project. This segment will appear every Saturday on Uni Watch.
Here’s Gary (click on image to enlarge):
Classic Ballpark Scoreboards – Series II
by Gary Chanko
Classic Football Scoreboards moves south to Birmingham, Alabama for visit to the “The Old Gray Lady”. – Legion Field.
Football Home of: University of Alabama (1927-2003); Auburn University (1926-1991); UAB (1991-2014, 2017…); Birmingham Americans/ Vulcans (1974-75); Birmingham Stallions (USFL) (1983”“1985); Birmingham Fire (WLAF) (1991”“1992); Birmingham Barracudas (CFL) (1995)
The former “Football Capital of the South,” Legion Field, named in honor of the American Legion, served as the home stadium for multiple college and professional football teams. Both Alabama and Auburn used Legion Field as an alternate home stadium. The annual Iron Bowl mashup was played in Birmingham from 1948 to 1988. And today, Legion Field will see the return of college football when UAB restarts their football program in 2017.
A short history of The Gray Old Lady, including historical photos, can be seen here.
The stadium’s original scoreboard was located in the far reaches of the north end zone. The basic structure remained in its original location until the stadium was inclosed in the early 1960s. The new 1964 scoreboard version was located at the top of end zone seats. It wasn’t much of an upgrade, however, the display provided the same basic info.
The scoreboard graphic recreates the 1961 Iron Bowl played on December 2, 1961. Alabama shut out the Auburn Tigers 34-0 and went on to capture the national championship.
A Few Things to Know
• In 1969 lights were added to the stadium lighting was added and Legion Field hosted the first nationally televised night game
• The biggest crowd ever at Legion Field occurred in 1996. Nearly 84,000 watched the United States play Argentina in an Olympic soccer match.
• The Rolling Stones played Legion Field multiple times, but the first in 1965 was the best – the venue included the Beach Boys and the Righteous Brothers.
If anyone is interested in purchasing a digital copy of these posters, Gary is working on an online purchase option. In the interim you can contact him directly at Classicscoreboards@gmail.com.
UW’s Friday Flashback
In case you missed it, on Friday, Paul’s Friday Flashback on ESPN gave us a neat look-back at the (now, sadly, pretty much defunct) practice of sewing pockets into football jerseys to keep hands warm during inclement/chilly weather. That, of course, morphed into a custom-designed hand warmer called the “Pupello Pocket;” those hand warmers are now ubiquitous, but there was a time not so long ago when not only did players have neither pockets nor hand warmers, but they didn’t even wear gloves!
Great read, so be sure to check it out if you missed it!
Baseball News: I feel like we may have seen this before, but just in case: Here are the 2016 uniform combos for the Reading Fightin Phils. Interesting that they’ve managed to get three different scripts on their three primary jerseys (from Eric Scarcella). … Reader Jonathan Daniel thinks this is the best hat ever.
Pro and College Football News: In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, Nike’s business plan depends on adults playing dress-up athlete (from Phil). … Here’s Michigan State’s jersey patch for the Tire Bowl. … Check out this wonderful photo of UNC vs. Georgia Tech from 1974 (thanks to Douglas Ford).
Hockey News: Oooh, check out this 1972 Bruins coloring book (from Chris Mizzoni). ”¦ Ugly sweater jerseys for the Muskegon Lumberjacks (from Phil). ”¦ Western Michigan goalie Lukas Hafner’s mask pays tribute to his dad, who died of cancer (from Patrick Thomas). ”¦ New 60th-anniversary jersey for the Rochester Amerks (from Joe Lombardo).
Grab Bag: There are bad uniforms, and then there are really bad uniforms. Those are the San Angelo Bandits, an arena football team (from Patrick O’Neill). … Last night’s Bulls/Pistons game went into 4 overtimes. Yes, there were a lot of 4’s (good spot by Paul Lee).
Whew! That’s going to do it for today — thanks, of course, to Gary for the scoreboards, and Paul for the ticker help. Enjoy the Bowls today — you’ve got 5 of them on your agenda.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a very special Christmas posting that you won’t want to miss — our old friend Jimmer Vilk will be giving away a goodly amount of his vast collection of Vilkness … trust me, this is one you won’t want to miss. It’ll be like Paul’s uni appreciation day, only with more Jimmer. Enjoy your Saturday, folks.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Bright colors are in it seems. At least in urban areas. The attention culture. When people make fun of it they’re greasing the wheel. I’m going to assume next year because of this that the Bengals will get orange pants.”
— Anthony (hypothesizing on the Bengals ‘Color Rash’ uni for 2016)