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, though I usually end up about 50% correct), I shall pick the winners of the bowl games (against the spread), based on who has the better uniform set worn throughout the 2017 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 that neither team deserves to be picked. I shall do so anyway.
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. So I’ll do my best to avoid that. OK? OK.
After a record 41 bowls last year, this year we’re blessed with less. I’ll be breaking them up into segments: today — the 11 bowls taking place today and through Friday. Next weekend I’ll have the 19 you’ll see the following week, and finally the last (GREAT) 9 bowls with teams you’ve actually watched all season long. You can click on any image to enlarge. (Apologies if they seem to run into one another — first listed school is on the left, second listed is on the right.)
So, without further ado, here goes nothing…
North Carolina A&T vs. Grambling State
Saturday, December 16; Noon; ABC
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Spread: North Carolina A&T is a 7.5 point favorite
This should be an interesting one — you have two schools who use gold fairly predominately, but one goes with black (Grambling) while the other uses navy (NCAT). All things being equal, this would be a coin flip, but Grambling seems to have an AFAS (anthracite for anthracite’s sake) uni, plus they like to go TNDL (Team Name Down Leg). That tips the scales towards NC A&T.
The Pick: NCAT -7.5
Troy vs. North Texas
Saturday, December 16; 1:00 pm; ESPN
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Spread: Troy is a 7 point favorite
Troy’s official colors are black, cardinal and silver. Despite that, I can’t but think they wear AFAS and BFBS. North Texas, on the other hand, uses black, green and white. And I feel they wear BFBS. Maybe both schools need to get off my lawn. Nonetheless, I must discount these apparent uni transgressions and it’s tough, because I like both kelly green and cardinal. Still, North Texas goes by “Mean Green” and dammit, that means you wear green, not black or light gray, which they do. Neither school has great unis, but Troy’s are less bothersome here.
The Pick: Troy -7
Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky
Saturday, December 16; 2:30 pm; CBS Sports
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Spread: Western Kentucky is a 6.5 point favorite
Georgia State mixes their blue and white well enough, but threw in a BFBS alt for one game. They remind me a bit of Kentucky with that. WKU adds a set of BFBS pants but keeps their jerseys red and white. But they also sport the dreaded TNDL. Based on unis alone, it’s a tough call. WKU has a slightly better set overall, but it’s close.
The Pick: WKU -6.5
Boise State vs. Oregon
Saturday, December 16; 3:30 pm; ABC
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
Spread: Oregon is a 7.5 point favorite
The one semi-marquee bowl of the day (and the week) features one-time powerhouses Boise State and Oregon. The two schools have in the past gone through an entire season without repeating a uni combo (and Oregon almost did it this year), but Boise ended up wearing a lot of mono-blue this year. Oregon stuck with school colors of yellow and green for all but two games (former Coach Willie Taggart had promised as much), and Boise got new jerseys, which were an improvement. We already know this game is supposed to be color-vs-color — so that will be interesting. Another tough call, but I’ll give the nod to Boise here as they avoided wearing anything but school colors all year long!
The Pick: Boise State +7.5
Colorado State vs. Marshall
Saturday, December 16; 4:30 pm; ESPN
Branch Field at Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Spread: Colorado State is a 5.5 point favorite
After a couple years of wearing only green and white, Marshall has been adding black into the mix, including a BFBS jersey this year. CSU, on the other hand, has stuck with green and gold, and wore two very cool alternates — a throwback in green and orange, and a new “State Flag” uni that I really happened to like. CSU will also wear a new helmet for this game. This one is an easy call.
The Pick: Colorado State -5.5
Middle Tennessee State vs. Arkansas State
Saturday, December 16; 8:00 pm; ESPN
Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
Spread: Arkansas State is a 4.0 point favorite
Both of these schools wore a lot of different combos throughout the season, but only Ark State has black as an official school color. MTSU managed to wear BFBS a couple times, and threw in some GFGS to boot. They also wear SNDL. That’s too many strikes against them. Ark State has surprisingly nice unis, despite the three stripe logo (did you know they’re outfitted by adidas?) on the sleeve of three of four jerseys. Their only strike against. They get the nod.
The Pick: Arkansas State -4
Florida Atlantic vs. Akron
Tuesday, December 19; 7:00 pm; ESPN
Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
Spread: Florida Atlantic is a 22.5 point favorite
Florida Atlantic went through almost the entire season wearing just two combos — an all red and an all white set. And then they broke out the Silver For Silver Sake (or, if you prefer, GFGS)…but wait, that actually is an official school color. The Zips (Jimmer Vilk’s alma mater) stuck with school colors the entire season, even though they were able to wear nine different combos…an impressive feat. FAU will be wearing white for this bowl, so they should look fine. Normally any team playing the Zips would get my nod, but it’s not so easy this season. In fact, I think they may have won me over!
The Pick: Akron +22.5
Louisiana Tech vs. Southern Methodist
Wednesday, December 20; 8:00 pm; ESPN
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Spread: SMU is a 5.0 point favorite
Ah, two schools with beautiful red, white and blue color schemes. La Tech with the red, white and blue tops and the beautiful UCLA stripes, and SMU with the equally nice red, white and blue tops with northwestern stripes and WAIT…what’s that BFBS and GFGS??? Dammit, Mustangs, there’s NO NEED to ruin great unis with … that. What would have been a coin-flip game suddenly swung full force over to Tech. Do better, SMU.
The Pick: La Tech +5
Florida International vs. Temple
Thursday, December 21; 8:00 pm; ESPN
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Spread: Temple is a 7.0 point favorite
Let me first state that I actually REALLY like Temple’s uni — when it’s cherry and white. The modern tiled stripes have really grown on me and even the shoulder cap design works. But that BFBS — it works its way into the helmet, the jersey and the pants, and sometimes all three. It’s irksome, but because the school only has cherry and white for official colors, it’s not a complete deal breaker. Now, FIU sticks to blue and gold, and the only annoyance is the panther paw scratch on the pants. I’ve never understood why teams who use mascots with claws actually have scratches on their uniforms. Did your mascot turn on you? Despite the BFBS, I’m leaning towards the scratchless Owls here.
The Pick: Temple -7
Alabama-Birmingham vs. Ohio
Friday, December 22; 12:30 pm; ESPN
Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
Spread: Ohio is a 7.5 point favorite
If Ohio just wore green and white, they would easily be one of my favorite uni-teams in all of football. The shade is gorgeous, they have great UCLA stripes — they actually look a bit like the NFL Jets, only better. But they, like so many, insist on BFBS, which ruins a great set. Yes, I liked it well enough (though would prefer it be gone) with Temple, but it doesn’t work for Ohio. UAB is a great story in and of themselves, and they rock the green and metallic gold quite well. I’m not a fan of the gray/lime one-off, and it might eliminate them against other schools, but not against Ohio (who have announced they will wear ALL white).
The Pick: UAB +7.5
Famous Idaho Potato:
Central Michigan vs. Wyoming
Friday, December 22; 4:00 pm; ESPN
Lyle Smith Field at Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Spread: Wyoming is a 1.0 point favorite
Despite having maroon and gold for their colors, CMU just never seems to look good, at least to me — kinda like a poor man’s Minnesota. At least they stick with those school colors, plus white, and can wear 12 different combos doing it. On the opposite side of the coin is Wyoming — a school that I have done a complete 180 on over the years. As Jimmer Vilk can attest, I used to detest WYO and their 30 different combos, but for some reason, after getting new unis last year, they’ve stuck to wearing ONLY two for the past two years. I don’t love the white hat/brown jersey/gold pants, but I respect it. Easy call here.
The pick: Wyoming -1
And there you have it — the first 11 bowls of the 2017 season. Let’s see if I can do better than my usual 50% in picking winners based on the better uni combos worn throughout the season.
…every state was represented by a helmet?
A few weeks ago, I led off SMUW with a with a writeup of the Colorado State University “flag” based/state pride uniforms. I noted a few other schools had attempted to base a uniform off the flag, and I liked how the helmet looked.
While I mentioned a few schools that kinda-sorta used flag elements on their (or as the basis for their) uniforms, and a few people remarked on this in the comments, I hadn’t really given much thought to this since that time.
That is, until I received the following e-mail from reader Marc Mayntz. The introduction read:
First off, love everything you do with Uni Watch.
A while back when you showed off Colorado State and their state pride jerseys, you asked what if other states were to do similar. While I am not the biggest football fan in the world, I am quite the avid amateur vexillologist (a word almost as fun to say as to be). So, using a pretty simple template, I mocked up 50 “state pride” helmets.
Only one small problem…most state flags are rather, well, predictable.
• Predominantly blue? 25 are
• State seal? 30 have them in some variety
• The state’s name prominently displayed? A little better, but still 10 of them
Now, some states are so unique and work so well for design, I just integrated them straight into the helmet. But the other, more repetitive ones, I paired up with something in the military unique to that state. For most states, I used the insignia of National Guard units-the perfect intersection of state pride and military appreciation.
The only remaining hurdle was my neophyte digital artistry, which is not the best. Still, it gets the point across, I think.
Marc then proceeded to send 50 “state flag” helmets, complete with descriptions. But they’re not just straight adaptations of the state flag — there was a tremendous amount of thought and effort that went into these, and you should definitely check them each out individually.
What I’ll first do is run them as a slide show (which is below), and if you can’t see that, you can click here to see the set or here to see the show. After that, I’ll show each helmet Marc created with a link specific to that state.
Here is the specific list with each helmet contained in the link.
Alabama – Silhouette of the USS Alabama. Battle ship gray for the helmet with the Alabama State Flag going up the center stripe.
Alaska – Weird thing: the Alaska National Guard uses just the Big Dipper stars in silver while the state flag uses the Dipper and the North Star in gold. The helmet is a blending of the two.
Arizona – That state flag had to go on a helmet. The Arizona National Guard logo is on the back.
Arkansas – Originally I was going to just put the flag on there, but the razorback tearing through that diamond just looked too cool to pass up.
California – Another state where the National Guard logo and state flag merged pretty well. The single star on the CA flag is on the front of the helmet.
Colorado – Colorado’s National Guard logo is the same “C” as the one found on the flag. Instead, since Colorado is also home of the Air Force Academy, I went to the Colorado Air National Guard logo and it’s version of the Colorado “C”.
Connecticut – Adapted from the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton. The five stripes represent Connecticut being the 5th state admitted to the Union and the tree on the back represents New England.
Delaware – The griffin of Lord De la Warre made a great helmet logo while the buff diamond from the state flag is incorporated as a center stripe.
Florida – The 50th Regional Support Group out of Homestead has a beautiful sun that works great for the Sunshine State.
Georgia – As a general rule, I said no to state seals, but Georgia’s is, in my mind, the best. Simple and elegant.
Hawaii – Had a choice here…put the Union Jack or the head of King Kamehameha I on the side of a helmet to represent Hawaiian pride and culture. The 8 red,white, and blue stripes are for the 8 islands.
Idaho – Blue flag, state seal, yawn. That 13 point buck sure looks a lot more distinct.
Illinois – Silhouette of Abraham Lincoln’s head? So perfect and much better than another state seal (at least this flag is white).
Indiana – The flag is awesome, but it’s been more or less done. The National Guard logo keeps the essential elements as well as the gold really looks sweet-much better than basic blue.
Iowa – The perfect combination of Iowa (a hawk) and Iowa State (red) and a pretty fine look too. The red, white, and blue center stripe mimics the flag.
Kansas – The 184th Intelligence Wing stationed in Wichita is called the Fighting Jayhawks. Could not pass up using it. The 5 stars on the back are in homage to General and President Eisenhower.
Kentucky – Adapted from the 1st Battalion 623rd Field Artillery of the Kentucky National Guard.
Louisiana – The pelican features on both the state flag and National Guard insignia.
Maine – I would be willing to bet that this is the first football helmet to feature 3 pine trees on it. The big trees are from the Maine National Guard while the little tree in the back is from the New England Flag.
Maryland – See, you can make a football helmet using the most distinctive state flag and not go INSANE doing it.
Massachusetts – The 54th Regiment featured in the movie “Glory” still exists and that logo…wow. The 6 stripes represent Massacusetts’ admission and the pine tree represents New England.
Michigan – I went with a lighter blue field to set the griffin on. The 5 stripes down the center represent the Great Lakes with the mnemonic HOMES for the lakes’ names. Notice the “O” is in a different color, since it is the only Great Lake that does not touch the state.
Minnesota – The ice blue of the National Guard logo pairs nicely with the white (snow) colored helmet with the crooked center striping representing the 10000 lakes. I thought this was the greatest disparity between National Guard logo and state flag quality, until…
Mississippi – There was no chance I was putting Mississippi’s state flag on a helmet. Then you look at the National Guard logo – Neptune’s trident superimposed over a magnolia blossom. I turned the trident into a classic Mariners style M for Mississippi on the front of the helmet.
Missouri – The flag has two grizzly bears on the state seal and the National Guard uses the grizzly bear as its logo, so a pretty good match there. I think the gold makes the bear seem more visible while the red,white, and blue stripes evoke the state flag.
Montana – That Guard logo is so beautiful, I had to use it. The silver and gold center stripe is from the state motto “Oro y Plata.”
Nebraska – An ear of corn-what did you expect? Had to be put on a red helmet.
Nevada – The Silver State needed a silver helmet and the logo is a beautiful pale blue that pairs with it. I made the tail end of the center stripe match the distinctive state shape.
New Hampshire – The center striping matches the spears in the logo. The spears are bound on the back of the helmet using the state’s awesome “Live Free or Die” motto. The New England tree makes its appearance on the back as well.
New Jersey – The unique blue color is found in the state seal and hosts the National Guard’s lion logo. The three gold stripes represent New Jersey’s admission order as well as the main color of the state flag.
New Mexico – The best state flag needed no improvement or modification.
New York – I love the allusion to the Statue of Liberty in this logo. The helmet color comes from the state flag.
North Carolina – The National Guard patch is a hornet protecting its nest. Adding the nest on the helmet made it really hard to see, so I just kept the hornet and the hole leading to the nest is replaced with the ear hole of the helmet. A stylized hex stripe goes up the center.
North Dakota – The bow and arrows come from the state seal and are the Guard logo for the state. The rays of sunlight are found on the flag, so I used them on the center stripe.
Ohio – I wanted this as close to Ohio’s flag as I could get. The stars on the flag muddied up the design, so I left them off but made sure on the back that the swallowtail design of the flag was carried through.
Oklahoma – Another beautiful flag with lots of symbolism that had to be used. While the flag does not conform to “good” flag making design, for a helmet it came out alright.
Oregon – The only 2 sided flag means the only helmet with two different designs on each side. The right side is direct copy from the state flag, the left and adaptation of the Oregon National Guard with Mt. Hood.
Pennsylvania – The keystone is the symbol of the state, so I made sure to use it. The gold and black represent Pittsburgh, the red and blue for Philadelphia. THe 2 white stripes represent the state’s admission order.
Rhode Island – I originally was going to just use the state flag since the anchor on a white field looks so good, but then the National Guard logo was even more impressive and gave rise to using a two-tone helmet. The anchor stayed on the front while the New England tree sits on the back.
South Carolina – That palmetto tree looks so good as a negative silhouette on the dark blue, another easy one to make.
South Dakota – A prowling coyote from the Guard with the unique color and a jagged sunburst center stripe from the state flag.
Tennessee – The three stars had to be there, and the Guard patch has a hickory tree representing President Jackson. The unbalanced center stripe is taken from the edge of the flag.
Texas – It could not just be a Lone Star, since there is another football team that kinda has the corner on that design. The added garlands of laurel and oak make it still Texas. The striping and star in the center, of course, are from the state flag.
Utah – The beehive is a central symbol to the state, so it needed to go on the helmet. The state motto is superimposed on the outline of the state on the back.
Vermont – The Green Mountain Boys with the New England Tree in the back. The center stripes combine to form a V.
Virginia – Adapted from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard logo with its gantry crane and naval craft, the water gradient is a nice unique feature.
Washington – I would have used President Washington’s face like it appears on the flag, but his personal seal actually looks better on the helmet. Another green helmet that just works.
West Virginia – The logo is from the National Guard while the center stripe has a W in the blue space and a V in in the gold.
Wisconsin – If anything replaces the flying W, this is it.
Wyoming – The bison from the state flag with the state seal removed from it. The two white stripes represent equality, as Wyoming was the first state to allow women’s suffrage.
And there you have it. Pretty impressive, right? Marc did a great job with those!
What say you readers? If you’re a flag fan (or dare I say, vexillologist), what do you think? And even if you’re not, how did he do with your state flag? Did he nail it, or do you think there would have been a better or different way to go? I love what he did with New York, and my only ‘complaint’ as it were is that our flag is a lot more blue than the helmet appears — but other than that I love it. I don’t know if the Excelsior logo would translate well on a helmet, so I like what Marc did.
And new a few words from Paul:
Hi there. In case you missed it on Friday, my latest ESPN column explores a simple question: Why can’t figure skaters wear uniforms instead of costumes? Check it out here.
Also from Friday, our annual year-end raffle is now underway. Full details here.
Finally, Santa’s elves say that if you want Christmas delivery for a Uni Watch mini-helmet, a Uni Watch membership card, a Naming Wrongs T-shirt, an ugly sweater T-shirt, or anything else from the Uni Watch march shop, it’s now or never. Thanks.
By Anthony Emerson
Baseball News: Here’s our best look yet at the Nationals’ All-Star Game patch (from Robert Hayes). … Also from Robert: a good look at the D-Backs’ 20th anniversary patch … We may have seen this before, but just in case: Fernando Rodney wears his hat crooked in honor of his father, who passed away less than a week before his MLB debut (thanks, Alex). … Ed Kendrick found this Nationals jersey for sale online. New alternate? … Bill Haelig found this three-foot Campbell’s Soup Kid ad piece. Note the MLB 100th anniversary patch and that the catcher’s left handed.
NFL News: Kevin Carr noticed that some Colts players had a different number font than others, and wonders if a change is in the works. … The Courier-Post, a newspaper serving the South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, featured a dreadful mockup of a Colin Kaepernick Eagles jersey — midnight green and Eagles logo patches, but Niners name and number fonts (from Michael Driscoll). … The Chiefs will go red-over-red this weekend (from Scott Ontiveroz). … The Browns will go all white at home against the Ravens (from Robert Hayes). … The Lions will go with their Color Rash grey uniforms today against the Bears (thanks, Phil).
College/High School Football News: Georgia Tech formally launched their new white jerseys (from David Abercrombie). … Clemson is switching the Nike logo on their white britches from orange to purple. Old look here (from @willchitty4). … Speaking of Clemson, they’ve added the Sugar Bowl patch to their jerseys (from Brad Darby). … James Lee Gilbert shares this excellent Andy Demetra tweet: “There are 3 teams in Division 1 hoops (out of 351) that use orange/green as their primary color scheme. Georgia Tech will have faced all three (UTRGV, Florida A&M, Miami). There you go folks. My most useless fact of 2017. Carry on.” … Duke will wear their script logo on their helmets during the Quick Lane Bowl against NIU (from @ACC_Tracker). … Troy will go all white against North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl (from Ben Whitehead). … Boise State is going all blue for the Las Vegas Bowl (thanks, Phil). … Speaking of the Las Vegas Bowl, Tyrell Crosby of Oregon was given a Vegas Golden Knights jersey with No. 58 and “Vegas Strong” on the back. Crosby wears No. 58, and there were 58 killed in October’s massacre (thanks, Phil).
NBA News: JR Smith wore a Supreme-branded compression sleeve on Thursday evening (from @Vovomeena). … I think we may have seen this before, but just in case: the logo for Pacers Gaming, the eSports team owned by the Pacers’ ownership group, incorporates a basketball (from D.J. Miller).
Soccer News: Senegal has signed a four-year kit deal with Puma, and Puma will provide the Senegalese kits for the 2018 World Cup (from Josh Hinton). … Umbro has become Jamaica’s kit supplier (from Ed Żelaski). Interstingly, Romai Sports previously provided both Senegal’s and Jamaica’s kits. … Also from Josh: Louisville City FC’s media team made a team version of Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s poster. Don’t think Chewbacca plays centerback for Louisville City, though. … Someone had a question about the “sports bras” male soccer players wear during practice; they’re GPS-like devices that track players’ speed, distance covered and other things (from Eric Vieira, Mark Campbell and everyone else who sent this in). … Footy Headlines has an entertaining list of 1990s kits that would no longer be allowed due to more strict kit regulations.
Grab Bag: This is so cool: Ben Traxel has shared with us his collection of team and event-branded beer and soda cans from the 1970s and 1980s. … The logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing have been released (from Daniel, who did not wish to give his last name). … In 2001, artist Richard Ankrom took it upon himself to fix a poorly-marked traffic sign in Los Angeles. This story about Ankrom’s act of “Guerrilla Public Service” is fantastic (thanks, Brinke). … The insignia of the Marines unit that maintains and pilots Marine One (the official presidential helicopter) features helicopter blades (from James Lee Gilbert). … Yesterday was apparently ugly sweater day, so here’s a list of officially licensed ugly rugby sweaters (from Josh Gardner). … Next year’s Boston Marathon jackets will be orange, a departure from the blue and yellow used for as long as I can remember (from Steven Sisco). … The Vatican has released the new logos of its media arm, each featuring a minimalist version of the Emblem of the Holy See (from Jim Vilk). … María Canales sends along this hype video for the Notre Dame cheerleaders’ new uniforms. “It’s good to see a hype video showcasing cheer uniforms.” María says. I agree, it show’s how expansive the uni-verse is getting.