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Nick Heller Returns - With College Concepts

By Phil Hecken

About two months ago, I interviewed and ran a bunch of NFL concepts by a gentleman named Nick Heller. You can check that out here. I mentioned that Nick had also been working on some NCAA football uniform concepts, and today we’re back with him to look at those.

Nick has done eight concepts (I believe he has more in the works, but for now we’ll look at this sampling). I asked Nick if he could describe each concept, which he gladly did. I’m sure some of you (especially ‘traditionalists’) will take umbrage at some of these concepts (I wasn’t a huge fan of two of them — see if you can guess which — but others I really liked), but hear him out. And let him know what you think in the comments below.

So without further ado, here’s Nick and his Great 8 (click any photo to enlarge):

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AUBURN:

Marrying into a family full of Georgia Bulldogs fans means you learn quickly how near and dear SEC football is to Southerners. They’re serious about their fandom…knowing their teams, knowing their rivalries, knowing their traditions. And yes, that includes uniform styles. For that reason, I wanted to resurrect the pre-existing Auburn (1970s-80s) orange jerseys and simply try and modernize that thirty-year old look for today’s game only adding a few new touches in the “War Eagle” type along the horizontal shoulder stripe, and the older tiger head logo to the pant stripe on the hip.

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BRIGHAM YOUNG:

I wanted to make sure I covered one of the independent schools when I went through this. I realize Notre Dame is probably one of the more popular options, but I feel like they’ve had a fair amount of new (and good) uniform design, so I looked to another school my Instagram followers suggested in BYU. Through research I found that they’ve made some interesting color/format changes through the years (what was with that weird bib uni when the gold was introduced?). I thought it would be helpful to find a way to push their rather limited color selection by finding some harmony between disparate designs throughout the years. This concept is a mash up of today’s navy jerseys with an older navy pant, modern three-stripe styling throughout, and the use of the color black as an accent color instead of the odd blackout version they used a few years ago.

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CLEMSON:

This one might be the most far out concept of the set, but I still feel like it honors the rich school traditions. Clemson’s basically used every possible combination of their brand colors, so I wasn’t going to introduce anything new there. Instead I thought it might be interesting to add a subtle mascot-themed texture in places we may not normally see them. You’ll notice tiger stripes down the center helmet stripe, on the chin straps, and throughout the logos on the helmet and jersey. Also, I just really wanted to be able to call this the “white tiger” concept, so I’ve swapped the normal orange helmet for a white one and incorporated grey as a complimentary color.

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LOUISIANA STATE:

Arguably one of my favorite color combinations in all of sports, I was very surprised to find that the Tigers have rarely worn purple pants and never worn a full purple uniform. Granted the bayou can get hot so it makes sense that they default to white, but I’d love to see a whole lot of that deep purple under the lights on a Saturday night. Only a few noticeable changes to their current template on this one: like the Clemson concept, I’ve carried over a similar tiger stripe to the helmet and tried to reel in the shoulder stripes so they’re not reaching well past the armpit. Geaux Tigers.

• • • • • •

OHIO STATE:

Ohio State’s partnership with Nike has created some really interesting alternate concepts over the past several years. In fact, just this year they’ve used their new alternate variations twice. Knowing the school is open to alternates and has worn some more wild concepts, I wanted to find a balance between their normal home look and some of the edgier alternates like this years. Sharing the theme from the previous two, there’s a ghosted in Brutus logo up the center helmet stripe (and that stripe’s been widened). The classic light grey/silver pants have been swapped for a darker gunmetal grey and black acts as an anchor between the red, grey, and white.

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OKLAHOMA:

Oklahoma is another Nike design-friendly school and–as recently as last year–had alternates created specifically for their school. I wanted to take inspiration from that Nike “Bring the Wood” concept, but also celebrate classic Oklahoma styling and celebrate the explorative nature of the people, school, and great state of Oklahoma. This concept utilizes a topographical map pattern throughout…it’s on the helmet, on the yoked shoulders, and down the pant stripe. The back of the helmet features the famous “Boomer” saying, and the jersey incorporates tech-styled numbering. Lastly, I personally dislike their cream color and find it’s pairing with their crimson rather troublesome. I opted to use white instead.

• • • • • •

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA:

I’m already preparing for the onslaught of comments on this USC concept, but I still felt compelled to present it. USC fans are notorious for their endearing love of the cardinal and gold color scheme and their uniforms really haven’t seen many changes in recent years. The one bizarre change that I gravitated towards was the introduction of a gold-specked grey(ish) facemask. If you notice it in any images you realize quickly that it doesn’t match any other colors in their uniforms. I happen to really like how unique the color makes the facemasks and took it as inspiration to create a nostalgic throwback-styled uniform swapping the bright yellow–err, gold–for a newer, slightly muted gold/yellow alongside the existing cardinal red. I decided to keep the rest of the uniform styling virtually. The crescent shoulder stripes are still there, but lowered on the shoulder, the “SC” logo has been moved from the collar point to the right breast, and the pant stripe sees a modern detail that runs crimson across the back of the knee.

• • • • • •

WISCONSIN:

Where UGA is my in-laws team, Bucky Badger is my family’s team. I’m an Arizona State alum, but appreciate the play style and gritty tradition of Big Ten/Wisconsin football. I thought it would be interesting to try and harness that grit by introducing the now-popular anthracite (dark grey) color in this alternate concept. Because the inclusion of anthracite is a bit jarring, most of the traditional Badger styling remains. Other major changes can be seen in the shoulder striping and number setup, and the addition of Bucky to the hip stripe similar to the Auburn tiger above.

• • • • • •

Thanks, Nick! While I’m not 100% in love with every one of these, I like your thought process and how you took a few chances. Readers: What say you?

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Is The Rash Receding?

As you’re all (likely) aware, the Washington football club was scheduled to wear their gold “Color Rush” uniforms this past Thursday Night versus Dallas. As you can see in the graphic above, and here and here, the all gold uniforms were a bit garish. In fact, back in March, the Washington football club raised an objection to wearing their designated color rash uniform, even proposing a rule change, specifically because it was so garish.

Washington proposed an amendment “to permit clubs to opt out of the ‘Color Rush’ jerseys created for ‘Thursday Night Football.’”

In 2016, when all teams were given color rash uniforms, Washington got lucky and didn’t play a game where they would have to wear them. They knew the 2017 schedule would pose this scenario (as it did on November 29th), so they proposed the ‘opt out’ in March. However, the NFL did not adopt the proposal (in fact, it was never adopted because Washington actually pulled it off the table).

Fast forward to last week. Throughout the week, in a development I was anxiously following, the team dropped hints they would not wear the garish gold unis on Thursday. As we got closer and closer to the game, even coach Jay Gruden wasn’t sure what the team would wear. By Wednesday, the “will they or won’t they” reached fever pitch, with Paul devoting a lede to the controversy. The talk shifted to the team wearing mono-burgundy as a substitute for the all-gold. Finally, we learned that the team would wear mono-burgundy if they wore anything. They did.

So, how did Washington get away with this? Wouldn’t this constitute a uniform violation (albeit one subject to a $5,000 fine)? “Not so fast, my friend” as Lee Corso is wont to say.

The ‘skins were allowed to make the color switch because teams are being given more “flexibility” for color rash games this year. In a story broken by the great Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:

According to CBS Sports, “We provided more flexibility in the second full-year of Color Rush for clubs to have the option to wear a color to wear from its color scheme,” a spokesman said. “The league also noted that several other teams have made a switch this year, including the Eagles and Dolphins. After wearing all-orange in 2016, the Dolphins switched to all-white in 2017.”

So is this the END for Color Rash? Well, yes and no. The Washington football club (and I guess you can count the Eagles & Dolphins as well) were the first to use the new “flexibility” in the rules. But the ‘skins were the first team to go mono-color. Looking ahead, I see Atlanta (who did not wear their mono-red unis in 2016) and New Orleans (who have the BEST color rash uni) are up next Thursday. I’d have to assume we’ll stick with that matchup.

But…but…but…

There are teams who don’t have Thursday Night games this year who WANT to wear their color rash unis on non-Thursdays! In fact, the Patriots already did this, and this weekend the Chargers are planning on doing the same:

And the Bills are planning to wear their mono-reds the following weekend!

Furthermore, the New York Giants will again break out their gorgeous white color rash/throwback unis on December 10th as well, against the Cowboys.

So, is the rash spreading or receding? I guess it depends on how bad your clownsuit is. How the NFL ever got the Seattle Seahawks to wear their rash unis twice (last year, and this year, when it was apparently ‘optional’) is beyond me.

Your mileage may vary.

(My thanks to David Raglin and Robert Hayes for their tips)

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White Pants Watch

Paul received an e-mail from Peter Hoetler earlier this week that he forwarded to me.

It seems Peter is not a fan of college teams wearing white pants. How much? Enough so that he actually used my Uni Tracker data (for the Power 5 conferences) to chart how often they’re worn.

Well, I’ll let Peter explain (you can click on the chart to enlarge):

I just don’t like white pants in football. It might stem from not being able to keep mine clean back when I played for a year on the freshman squad at Springfield (IL) High. I think they’re cheesy. The ideal is to honor the khaki canvas of the olden days but few teams do that. (See Chicago Bears 1994 alts.)

So standing on the shoulders of others’ hard work I compiled the 2017 White Pants Watch table from the NCAA Uni Tracking feature on this site. Thank you to the trackers.

The Pac 12 far surpassed the other conferences with a 72% anything-but-white rate. The ACC edged out the SEC this year for the worst at 50%. Single week highs and lows came in week 8 when the Pac 12 went 8 and 1, while the ACC went a blinding 3 and 9.

The worst game that I saw was Wisconsin at Nebraska where both had white helmets and white pants. I think one team wore red jerseys. Thank god it wasn’t snowing.

Pete Hoelter

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Too Good For the Ticker
Too Good…

for the Ticker

Got an e-mail yesterday from Alvaro Muñiz, who has a pretty good story regarding Sean Taylor (whose tragic death was a little over 10 years ago). Turns out, Alvaro went to the same high school as Taylor. His facemask and sock gimmicks date way back to then.

For a bit of perspective, you guys recall how on more than one occasion, Sean Taylor “doctored” his facemask by adding bits of white tape to create an interesting patterned effect:

Taylor also became an instant Uni Watch favorite when he created an amazing striping effect by creatively crafting his socks:

A couple years ago, the Colts LaRon Landry (who played with Taylor on the ‘skins) did a tribute to him by taping his mask up similarly. More recently (like, this week), the Ravens Tony Jefferson also also honored Taylor with some facemask tape.

Thursday night, Washington’s DJ Swearinger also had a Taylor tribute:

Here’s how those two ‘skins players masks looked, in comparison:

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Turns out, taping up his mask in Washington wasn’t the first time Taylor’s done this.

Here’s Alvaro with more:

I’ve noticed you’ve had a few Sean Taylor mentions in the Ticker since it’s the 10th anniversary of his passing. I played football with Sean back in high school (he was 2 years ahead of me). I remember back around his junior year in the practice before a major playoff game, Sean came out to the practice field with white tape all over his facemask just like his days in Washington. The coaches and teammates were dumbfounded by the look, none of us had any clue why he spent so much time placing white tape on his facemask (it really popped since we wore a royal blue facemask). I’m certain the coaches got on him about it and made him take it off since he didn’t wear the tape during the next day’s game.

Sean also wore heavily striped socks during his senior year homecoming game which was his own choice since team protocol was either sockless or black socks.

He also placed white tape on his belt. Sean was quite the character as well as a great teammate and friend to everyone who knew him.

I felt like sharing this with you since it provides some interesting context behind his more Uni-watchable moments.

Best,

Alvaro

Thanks Alvaro, and thanks for sharing!

OK. Now, on to the ticker…

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Uni Watch News Ticker
By Phil

Baseball News: The Minor League Macon Bacon will be wearing these jerseys for Star Wars Night on July 14, 2018 (from Macon Bacon). The Bacon are a new team in the summer college league, and the name was chosen by fan vote, beating out “Macon Soul,” “Macon Hits,” “Macon Heat” and “Macon Noise” — Kinda bummed Macon Whoopee wasn’t chosen.

NFL News: Interesting tid-bit in this WaPo article (which I hadn’t seen when it happened — anyone?), “On Thanksgiving, Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen recorded a sack, peeled away from the pile and yanked down a white T-shirt emblazoned with a message: “I just had a baby boy, what should we name him?” (Days later, Griffen revealed he and his wife, Tiffany, had decided on Sebastian Gregory.)” … Nice find from Funhouse (make sure to check out the Chargers practice gear!): Johnny Unitas tells a story about a Chargers coach who ordered him to stop talking to rookie Dan Fouts in 1973. It was Johnny’s final season in the league after 17 years with the Colts. Johnny U is one of those guys you just can’t envision in a uniform other than the Colts. … Good observation by Brian Spiess who notes, the “Bengals legends all get No. 50 jerseys for the 50th anniversary, but not all templates are created equal. Of the 13 jerseys worn on Sunday, I count eight of the 2017 template, four of the 2016 “toilet seat” template, and one where the narrower orange collar appears to be from the Reebok template (center in the group photo).” … Per @KristiCowboy, for the first time in Cowboys history… they will wear their navy jersey with their white pants next week against the Giants. Here’s a preview of what it could look like (via Paul & @DCBlueStar). … “Last year I sent some photos of my daughter’s college, FIT and some designs that students were doing (my kid was not involved),” says Joseph Bailey. “Looks like the stuff made it past prototype.” … Here’s a good one for the “jersey rips/tears/missing letters” file: “Watching some old NFL playoff action on a Friday night: 1988 Divisional Round Seahawks at Bengals. Looks like either the old 80s jersey is falling apart or the Bengals had a guy named Collins Orth that I don’t remember,” says Eric Drews.

College Football News: The SEC Championship is today. Aubie, the mascot of the Auburn Tigers, has asked fans to look uniform and wear navy blue. … OOOOoooohhhh — check out this glorious game-worn Princeton jersey from 1905, which among the many wonderful items up for auction from Grey Flannel (from Eric Bangeman). … As football season comes to a close, this week’s Behind The Seams will take a look back at some memorable uniforms from this season, including Oregon’s Stomp Out Cancer uniform and Florida’s Swap inspired uniform. … The AD, Jim Sarra, from a D2 football-less school, the University of Illinois Springfield, recently tweeted a picture of two helmets with school stickers on them (in front of a white hand towel backdrop.) The school is “Possibly getting a football team in the future and while the helmets could use some work they are not awful,” says submitter Erik Fowler. … Is this a Badger tail attached to this Wisconsin cap? (from Tony Tengwall).

Hockey News: In a very cool move, last night the St. Louis Blues wore sparkling sweaters in their warm ups to support an 11 year old cancer victim. Here’s some video of them in action (from Erik Spoonmore). … Tweeter Penfield says, “No idea what the origin of this is or if it is indeed authentic from the 80s but pretty interesting spin on the Hartford Whalers logo regardless.” ,,, Here is the mask that St. Louis blues starter Carter Hutton wore against the LA Kings last evening. It includes the names of nearly 400 kids impacted by cancer. Hutton’s mask was created by Jesse Acciacca of Jesse’s Custom Designs. It will be donated to “Friends of Kids with Cancer,” who will eventually auction it off (from @mrmichael21). Jake Allen, the Blues backup, also had a special mask. … Finnish center Eemeli Suomi, who plays for Ilves in the Finnish SM-liiga, is going to wear No. 100 on Dec. 5 for the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence (which is Dec. 6). Why him? You may recognize that his last name means “Finland” in Finnish (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … If asked to pick the best NHL uniform, you might say “Blackhawks,” or “Canadiens,” or “Bruins,” or really, there are probably 10 great sweaters. The Vegas Golden Knights would like a word with you (from @CouvillierMax). … Not quite related (and following on the heels of the 100 Greatest NHL Uniforms voting), Adam Rickert came up with his own 100 Greatest Hockey Unis rankings. … Following a hat trick by the Rangers’ Michael Grabner, someone threw a very cool New York State shaped Rangers cap onto the ice (from Al N. Kreit).

NBA News: The LA Clippers’ City Edition alternate jerseys will differ from leaks (Conrad Burry has received new information about the Clippers’ fourth and final uniform set). … What’s up is down? Frank McGuigan notes the hat on the left is purposely designed this way. “I just can’t figure out why,” he adds.

College Hoops News: The Kansas Jayhawks have new Iced Out white uniforms which have some some odd gray pattern on the shoulders as well as what looks like red-white-blue camo letters (from @ForFriedom).

Soccer News: There’s a new team, the Utah Royals, in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) and they announced a new crest. Submitter Seán Gohman‏ adds, “Nice use of Delicate Arch.” It was pointed out that this is the sister club to Real Salt Lake, and “Real” means “Royal” in French (actually it’s Spanish). … Paul had a nice post yesterday, “Period Piece” about players having (or not having) periods following their “Sr/Sr.” or “Jr/Jr.” NOB suffixes. But here’s a slightly different NOB (MINOB? = Middle Initial NOB). From Mike D. … In the biggest game of the week in Italy: Napoli wear black (instead of traditional blue) and Juve in yellow (instead of traditional black&white) — from Ed Żelaski‏. … Very cool article in The New York Times on how Real Madrid has a “secret weapon” to combat injuries — inventor and amputee, Terry Nelson (fromTommy Turner).

Grab Bag: We all know golf (and tennis) have had logos on apparel for quite some time, but it seems like the “official” shirts are now subject to the creep. WK notes the announcers for the Golf Channel have adidas-branded shirts. One is somewhat subtle while the other is, well, not so much.

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27 comments to Nick Heller Returns – With College Concepts

  • AlMaFi | December 2, 2017 at 8:31 am |

    The Macon Whoopee were a minor league hockey team that existed from 1996-2001, so that name is taken…er…Tacon?

  • Rich | December 2, 2017 at 8:48 am |

    Interesting tid-bit in this WaPo article (which I hadn’t seen when it happened — anyone?), “On Thanksgiving, Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen recorded a sack, peeled away from the pile and yanked down a white T-shirt emblazoned with a message: “I just had a baby boy, what should we name him?”

    ESPN.com (which has trouble realizing that interesting/click-bait stories are not “Top Headlines”) had it under “Top Headlines” on its home page on Thanksgiving Day.

  • James Gilbert | December 2, 2017 at 9:09 am |

    1) Washington NFL club “…if they wore anything.” Yikes!

    2) Utah Royal. Perhaps Sean gave you a bad translation, but real is Spanish for royal. The French for royal is quarter-pounder. : )

    • James Gilbert | December 2, 2017 at 9:11 am |

      Re-reading post, I think whoever pointed out that translation (sorry Sean) got it wrong.

    • Phil Hecken | December 2, 2017 at 9:23 am |

      Thanks, James — edited the text to say “Spanish” — as a 7 year student of French, I thought this was wrong, but didn’t bother checking (my bad). Also, I should have thought of “Real Madrid” as the example of where SLC got “Real” from.

  • J.R. Clark | December 2, 2017 at 9:16 am |

    Nick Heller, you had the very, very, very good sense not to attempt a Georgia Bulldogs concept.

  • Paul Kennedy | December 2, 2017 at 9:27 am |

    Real is Spanish for Royal.

  • Art S | December 2, 2017 at 9:27 am |

    Love the Auburn Tigers Concept uniform. The orange jerseys pop and uniform still maintains its traditional look. Would be a great uniform for some home non-conference games or night games? Anyone agree?

    • John | December 2, 2017 at 9:57 am |

      Agreed, it is both new and classic at the same time. It also uses gray nicely, something rarely done on NCAA unis today. I like most of the concepts and hate none of them. Good job.

      • Jerry | December 2, 2017 at 2:12 pm |

        There should be only one rule for re-designing college uniforms : must use real school colors.

        I don’t know of any college whose school colors include anthracite (or bronze, etc)

        • David | December 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm |

          Completely agree. Wear your school colors with pride. No need to borrow anyone else’s or incorporate new ones.

  • Big Ham | December 2, 2017 at 9:58 am |

    I actually noticed a logo inconsistency 38th the Clemson concept. The Helmet logo has a notch in the bottom of the pad print, however the zoomed image of it does not.

    For those not in the know, all Clemson paw logo does indeed have a notch in the bottom of it because the Tiger they modeled the pad logo after had a scar on its Paw pad.

  • Big Ham | December 2, 2017 at 10:00 am |

    *with not 38th my auto correct is fucking retarded

  • Michael Romero | December 2, 2017 at 10:05 am |

    I can’t be the only one who would love to see the Giants go to the color rash alts as their full time road uni, right? Nice contrast to the home blues, especially since they’re wearing then with white pants as they should.

    • Phil Hecken | December 2, 2017 at 10:20 am |

      You would not be alone in this, except they should wear the “ny” helmet not “GIANTS” — otherwise, I’m totally on board with the permanent change.

      • Daniel Tarrant | December 2, 2017 at 11:09 am |

        Actually, I think the Giants should use the NY logo on one side of the helmet and “GIANTS” on the other. I don’t know if NFL rules allow this aside from the Steelers, though.

        But yeah, the white jerseys with blue numbers look much better than the white with all-red.

        Right now, the when the Giants wear white, it looks like they lost their real jerseys and had to borrow Wisconsin’s or something.

      • Bill H | December 2, 2017 at 11:18 am |

        All of the college concept unis are dogshit, I’m so sick of all these concept helmets and unis!!

        • J.R. Clark | December 2, 2017 at 11:39 am |

          Concept unis = Klown Kostumes

  • Drew | December 2, 2017 at 11:13 am |

    Quite the ballsy boast there by the Vegas Golden Knights. Completely incorrect, by any measure. But ballsy.

  • Pat | December 2, 2017 at 11:28 am |

    Now that the cowboys are going navy over white, does anyone with Photoshop skills want to mock up them going with their white color rush jersey over their silver away pants with navy socks? I couldn’t help but think during Thursday’s game that if they switched the jersey to being their primary white jersey and then used their silver w/navy pants we could finally get rid of their awful green-silver pants. I would personally rate their uniforms higher if they could just match up all the colors. As of right now with all the mismatched color schemes they bother me.

  • Cris | December 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm |

    “COLLINS ORTH: Now here’s a guy, with a uni malfunction!”

  • LarryB | December 2, 2017 at 2:22 pm |

    My 2 favorite college uniforms are Ohio State home uni especially with the older gray sleeves and USC home uni. I dont care for Nicks Ohio State concept. It is ok, not terrible but I am not a fan of dark gray. Scarlet and gray looks good when the gray is light gray.

    The USC one is better than the Ohio State one. Though I still like the brighter gold pants more than the muted one.

    No to the Badgers black. This anthracite color is overused and well not a good color. Auburn in orange is fine. Has Auburn wore any kind of alternate? LSU in purple is fine too.

  • Steve | December 2, 2017 at 2:33 pm |

    Man…I really wish these concepts were flat instead of realistic. I’m having a hard time imagining how they’d look since they are on someone.

  • RICKAZ | December 2, 2017 at 2:35 pm |

    Haha…As a SC alum I have to say it. There is no way USC will ever radically change their uniform, let alone color. Also Nick got it right by saying “cardinal and gold” early on, but then ends with “crimson” for the pant stripe. With all the alternate uniforms, there’s something refreshing to know SC will stay with their look and not start down that slippery slope.

  • Matthew GBR | December 2, 2017 at 4:33 pm |

    I’m a BYU alum and I approve of the uni concept, with my one caveat being I’m not a fan of incorporating black elements (esp BFBS). Also, thank you for not changing everything to royal blue or mixing navy and royal (that is my biggest pet peeve).

  • RMc | December 2, 2017 at 6:27 pm |

    “the Washington football club”

    Who?

  • JM in Provo | December 3, 2017 at 3:38 am |

    I actually think BYU is pushing more and more towards a return to the “modern” royal throwback they’ve been sporting the last several years under the Sitake regime. I think eliminating from BYU the black elements added, keeping hemet white, and going with the royal look would have been a bit more interesting. Maybe going royal with some florescent/night glow gray would have been a nice touch? But that’s just armchair quarterbacking.

    REALLY liked the SoCal look and Ohio State looks, not a fan of the LSU look at all honestly with that mono-purple, and the Auburn works nice as an alternate, same with the Clemson. Oklahoma I’m impartial on, although I like what you did with the helmet, and not feeling the Wisconsin look.