Let's Go Bowling - Part II (2017 Edition)

By Phil Hecken

Hey guys — back with the annual look back (with an excuse to pick the Bowl game winners) at the 2017 uniforms and combinations of all the teams involved in the second set (today’s games through next Friday — December 29th) of College Football Bowl Games.

If you missed Part I, you can click here.

The concept of this exercise is pretty simple: pick the winners of the bowl games (against the spread), based on who has the better uniform set worn throughout the 2017 season. I usually get about 50% correct this way (which is to say, about the same odds as if I’d flipped a coin). After the first 11 games, I’m at 5 wins and 6 losses. Pretty much what you’d expect.

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.

After a record 41 bowls last year, this year we’re blessed with less. I’ll be breaking them up into segments: last weekend (see link above) — the 11 bowls that took place last week. Today you’ll see matchups for the 19 games this week, and finally (next Saturday) the final 9 bowls (excluding the final-final National Championship Game to be played on Monday, January 8th) 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 is part II…

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Birmingham:
Texas Tech vs. South Florida
Saturday, December 23; Noon; ESPN
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Spread: USF is a 2.5 point favorite

After donning many possible uni combos over the years, USF has actually settled on two main ones — the mono-green and mono-white, with the pseudo-tequila sunrise thrown in for good measure for a game. Tech loves its multiple combos, but with the exception of the throwback, none of them are particularly attractive. In a battle of UA schools, South Florida gets the nod here.

The Pick: USF -2.5

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Armed Forces:
San Diego vs. Army
Saturday, December 23; 3:30 pm; ESPN
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
Spread: SDSU is a 7 point favorite

There is no question this will be a good looking game. Army’s generally utilitarian unis have actually improved over the years, and the incredible all-white uni they sported for the Army-Navy game was amazing, but I have really fallen in love with SDSU’s two (with one helmet and one pair of pants!) combos they’ve now sported for a couple years. The Aztecs’ uniforms have really grown on me since first released.

The Pick: SDSU -7

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Dollar General:
Appalachian State vs. Toledo
Saturday, December 23; 7:00 pm; ESPN
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
Spread: Toledo is a 7.5 point favorite

App State mixes and matches their black and gold very well, and I have liked this set for a while now. Toledo has for several years had shitty unis, but they’ve improved a bit of late. Unfortunately, their switch from Russell to Under Armour and now to Nike hasn’t been that great an improvement. Not enough to pick them today, anyway.

The Pick: App State +7.5

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Hawai’i:
Houston vs. Fresno State
Sunday, December 24; 8:30 pm; ESPN
Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union Field at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Spread: Houston is a 2.5 point favorite

Let me first say I love Houston when they go red/white. I am NOT a fan of the AFAS (Anthracite For…) getups they insist on sporting for a couple of games. That being said, I’m not particularly a fan of FSU’s red/blue combos. I have always liked the Fresno State “V” on the helmet, which has a very cool backstory. It’s a tough call here — in a game I probably won’t be watching due to a holiday tradition or two I’ve observed for decades — but I gotta make a call.

The Pick: Houston -2.5

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Heart of Dallas:
West Virginia vs. Utah
Tuesday, December 26; 1:30 pm; ESPN
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
Spread: Utah is a 7 point favorite

Ugh. While West Virginia has an outstanding color combination of navy and gold, their unis belie the beauty of their duds. Add to the fact that they did not ONCE go blue/blue/gold and it’s a travesty. Throw in the pick-axe font and…well, you get the idea. Utah also has beautiful red and black colors, but they’ve regressed — going from a kinda cool mountain motif sleeve cap to a more generic seven-stripe pattern. The pants stripe also makes a weird new “turn” at the knee, which is also a downgrade. Nevertheless, it’s still better than the ‘eers costumes.

The Pick: Utah -7

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Quick Lane:
Duke vs. Northern Illinois
Tuesday, December 26; 5:15 pm; ESPN
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Spread: Duke is a 5.5 point favorite

Duke, who already go BFBS, threw in some AFAS this year. Which is a shame, because when they go blue/white in any combo, they look terrific. Better than the Colts even! NIU, who used to go with a shit-ton of combos, basically kept to two this year: black/red/black and mono white. You might call them plain-Jane, but I like them. Like, a lot. Easy call here.

The Pick: NIU +5.5

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Cactus:
Kansas State vs. California Los Angeles
Tuesday, December 26; 9:00 pm; ESPN
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
Spread: K-State is a 2 point favorite

This one is going to be a beautiful looking game. K-State, who normally wear only two combos, actually wore a special helmet (look closely — it’s got a slight camo pattern) for one game (THE HORROR!). UCLA switched from adidas to UA this year, and the change was great. I’d like the UCLA blue to be a bit more powdery, and I’m not 100% sold on the UCLA script on the hat being light blue instead of dark, but otherwise they nailed it! The UCLA stripes are back and even the one-off all-white uni was a treat. This is a tough call, but I think the Broons are gonna get the nod here.

The Pick: UCLA +2

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Independence:
Southern Miss vs. Florida State
Wednesday, December 27; 1:30 pm; ESPN
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
Spread: FSU is a 14.5 point favorite

Despite the great combo of black and gold, one of the last schools to be outfitted with Russell, Southern Miss, doesn’t have the greatest unis — I’m particularly not font of the ghosted tv numbers on the sleeve caps. Southern did have a nice throwback this season, but picked the wrong uni to throwback to. And while I’m not high on FSU’s unis, former coach Jimbo Fisher kept them in garnet and gold exclusively. New HC Willie Taggart has already said FSU will wear alts next season, and already, new combos are being promised for next season. But we don’t need to worry about that now. It’s FSU this year.

The Pick: FSU -14.5

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Pinstripe:
Iowa vs. Boston College
Wednesday, December 27; 5:15 pm; ESPN
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Spread: Iowa is a 3 point favorite

Iowa always looks like the Steelers — except for one great game vs. Ohio State when they wore black alternates and took them behind the woodshed. BC also basically wears only two combos — the maroon and gold homes, and the mono-white roads, except for the one Welles Crowther red bandana game. Both teams have nice unis, but the BC quadriceps stripes kinda annoy me (though they’re not nearly as bad as some UA uni gimmicks). But Iowa is Iowa and they always look great.

The Pick: Iowa -3

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Foster Farms:
Purdue vs. Arizona
Wednesday, December 27; 8:30 pm; FOX
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Spread: Arizona is a 3.5 point favorite

I’ll say this for this game: Jimmer Vilk would probably love it (if he watched football any more) for this one simple fact: both teams have HUGE uni numbers. Like, you can read those from space, if not the cheap seats. Ahhh, but the unis. I’ve never really liked Purdue’s, and the weird “wing?” pattern on the shoulders doesn’t help much. Then there’s the GFGS. On the other hand, ‘zona’s unis have actually improved (yes, it’s hard to believe, I know) this year. And while they wore 12 different combos, they did so by sticking to school colors — a fairly impressive feat. If this all sounds like damning with faint praise it is, but they need all the help they can get.

The Pick: Arizona -3.5

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Texas:
Texas vs. Missouri
Wednesday, December 27; 9:00 pm; ESPN
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Spread: Mizzou is a 3 point favorite

I’ve never really been a fan of Mizzou’s unis, from the “claw” stripes to the font. They just haven’t gotten it right in a decade or so. I mean, except for the belly shirt, these were pretty perfect. They haven’t gotten better since. Texas, OTOH, is just about perfect with the white hats, the burnt orange. Beautiful. And they’ve kept it that way forever. No contest here.

The Pick: Texas +3

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Military:
Virginia vs. Navy
Thursday, December 28; 1:30 pm; ESPN
Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
Spread: Virginia is a 2.5 point favorite

After years of multiple combos and helmets, Virginia very nicely (and surprisingly) stuck with TWO combos for the entire season, and the navy/orange is a plain, but very pleasing look. Yes, you might mistake them for say, Auburn, at first glance, but that’s not a bad thing. Navy has looked really tight under UA for the past several seasons, and this year they got even better, ditching the six striped jersey for a new six-striped stripe on the shoulders and pants. They also had a really sweet A/N uni. This is a VERY tough call, but I gotta take the Middies here. Plus, it’s basically a home game for them.

The Pick: Navy +2.5

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Camping World:
Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech
Thursday, December 28; 5:15 pm; ESPN
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Spread: Okie State is a 4.5 point favorite

Despite having enough potential combos at their disposal to go thirty seasons without a repeat, the Cowboys generally come off looking “predictably gorgeous” to borrow a phrase from Jason Bernard. They still like to throw some gray britches in there, which is disappointing, since orange and black are just fine on their own. Nevertheless, they usually look pretty sharp. Va Tech also usually look pretty good, and they’ve improved their unis over the years, with gorgeous UCLA stripes. But that fat toilet seat contrasting collar is annoying, and the Hokie Stone is overplayed. Close call here, but Okie State looks better.

The Pick: Oklahoma State -4.5

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Holiday:
Michigan State vs. Washington State
Thursday, December 28; 9:00 pm; FOX
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Spread: Washington State is a 3.5 point favorite

Sparty has (to its credit) dumped the bronze and shiny hats this year, and stuck to wearing their beautiful green and white elements exclusively. On the other side of the coin, Wazzu doesn’t wear enough crimson and wears too much gray — yes it’s a school color — but not TWO shades (it’s almost AFAS for the dark gray). Their unis got a bit better recently, but not enough.

The Pick: Sparty +3.5

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Alamo:
Stanford vs. Texas Christian
Thursday, December 28; 9:00 pm; ESPN
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Spread: TCU is a 2.5 point favorite

Except for their one BFBS game a year (and their PAC 12 Champ game, when they changed up their helmet stripes), Stanford is classic in their cardinal and white. And it’s a great, classic look. TCU has actually toned it down this season, sticking with mono-white shirts and pants on the road, but they still love that frog-skin pattern which does not look good (especially when rendered in purple). No contest here.

The Pick: Stanford +2.5

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Belk:
Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest
Friday, December 29; 1:00 pm; ESPN
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Spread: Wake Forest is a 3 point favorite

Except for one game where they wore a god awful maroon and black alternate, aTm looked great all season. They’ve settled nicely into the current setup, and it suits them well. Wake Forest, on the other hand, is still a mess. Their home whites have collar horns and an indiscernible pattern on the sleeve caps. Their black top has both of those things, but since they’re both black, we don’t see them. Maybe when they grow up and Nike gives them the unis most other teams are wearing (the riduculously named Vapor Untouchable or whatever it’s called), the unis will improve. Till then, these suck.

The Pick: aTm +3

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Sun:
Arizona State vs. North Carolina State
Friday, December 29; 3:00 pm; CBS
Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Spread: NC State is a 6.5 point favorite

IF (and this is a big IF) ASU stuck to maroon and gold, they’d have one of the better unis in football. They came to their senses a bit this year by ditching the copper/gray unis (though I admit I’d love to see a team actually wear copper as an official color), but kept the BFBS. And they don’t nearly put Sparky on their hats enough. NC State looks great when they go red/white (which is often), but that BFBS and GFGS set both appeared this year. I didn’t mind ASU’s Pat Tillman combat uni, so in a matchup of two oh-so-close-but-not-there schools, my nod goes (barely) to Sparky.

The Pick: ASU +6.5

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Music City:
Kentucky vs. Northwestern
Friday, December 29; 4:30 pm; ESPN
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Spread: Northwestern is a 7 point favorite

First thing: I LOVE Kentucky’s checkerboard pattern — love it — but too bad it only appears on the shoulder caps. If they repeated it on the helmet and pants stripe…I might need an extra set of tissues. But instead, they have that stupid truncated stripe and wear BFBS way too often. Despite their use of black often over decades, NU’s official colors are still just purple and white. Yet they use a lot of black and even throw in gray. I actually don’t hate the northwestern stripe on the jersey, though I’d prefer it on the sleeve caps — and I don’t like it across the knees. This won’t be a pretty game. It’s a coin flip pick too.

The Pick: Kentucky +7

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Arizona:
Utah State vs. New Mexico State
Friday, December 29; 5:30 pm; CBSSN
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
Spread: Utah State is a 4 point favorite

If Utah State didn’t have TNDL (Team Name Down Leg), I’d like their navy/gray/white combos a lot better. It’s not a bad uni set, but it’s just kinda…there. NM State also seems to get a pretty generic uni template from UA, and I’m not especially fond of it. In the lesser of two evils it’s…

The Pick: Utah State -4

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Rose Cotton:
Southern California vs. Ohio State
Friday, December 29; 8:30 pm; ESPN
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Spread: OSU is a 7.5 point favorite

OK, this game is being played in a stadium (Jerryworld) that’s NOT the Cotton Bowl, but they call it the Cotton Bowl. And the two teams playing in it would normally be playing on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, except the Rose Bowl is hosting Oklahoma and Georgia in their playoff game on January 1. So, for all intents and purposes, this IS the Rose (Pac 12 Champ vs. B1G Champ). And it should be a beauty. USC has one of my all-time favorite uni sets, so they’d get the nod over most teams, but OSU, when they stick to scarlet and gray, is most certainly up there. But they wore not one but TWO alts this year — an all gray and an all white (against Michigan in THE GAME no less!), so any chance THE might have had at getting the pick evaporated. Still, it’ll be a good looking Ros…er, Cotton Bowl.

The Pick: USC +7.5

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*Deep Breath* PHEW. OK, there you have it. All the games you’ll see (or that are available to watch) this coming week. The games are getting good now — and of course the final nine bowls are the real big ‘uns. Nice to end with a bang in USC/OSU.

Hope you enjoyed my picks-by-better-uni. YMMV.

“Looks like poo & pee in a pool…”

OK — that heder quote is actually made up, but it could have been real. Actually, I didn’t google it, maybe someone did actually say that.

But yesterday’s Potato Bowl, featuring Wyoming and Central Michigan, was one for the ages. White/brown/gold vs. gold/gold/gold on smurf turf. To most people, this was both a surprise and an eyesore.

Now — if everyone on Twitter (which exploded yesterday) had read my Let’s Go Bowling uni preview from last Saturday, they’d have known the colors of the two combatants. Wyoming, the designate home team, ONLY wears white/brown/gold, so that one was a given. CMU is maroon and gold, so as the designated road team, they could have worn a bunch of combos (with white or gold jerseys) and looked fine. In fact, if they only wore the gold jersey, we might have said this was a nice color-vs-color game. Instead, Twitter went nuts. Here’s just a sampling…

Yeah, people weren’t liking it. But you knew the game would be played on the blue turf of Boise and well…

Even those who didn’t feel the need to tweet a photo had an opinion…

Fortunately, a few people who follow me and/or Paul recognized the game for what it was:

Look — not many games are going to look good on the blue turf — hell, Boise uses it as camouflage, but maybe it would have been a good idea for CMU to figure out that the Cowboys were going to be in w/b/g and maybe not wear gold too?

Honestly, the game didn’t bother me in the least, but then I watch a LOT of college football and know the unis of both these teams — so it didn’t strike me as odd or off-putting in the least.

And the man with whom I have many a uni-disagreement actually tweeted what I was thinking:

Every once in a while a blind squirrel finds his nut.

And just for that, I’ll have good ol’ Jimmer Vilk back tomorrow with his (now annual) “Merry Vilkmas” giveaway. So if you missed out on Paul’s raffle (or even if you didn’t and just want more free stuff), be sure to check back on Vilkmas Eve for that!

An Update On the Ointment For the Rash

Last weekend (in case you missed it), I had graphic artist Matthew Blinco mock up several uni combos using parts of the NFL’s color rash monochrome sets, to see if some of these individual elements might be combined with a team’s normal uni to create something not quite so…garish.

If you didn’t see it, please check it out here. Matthew did great work.

In the comments, there was a request for the Seahawks blue jersey to be combined with the CR lime/neon pants (in my original article, I’d had Matthew pair the neon/lime jersey with navy, white and gray pants). He took it upon himself to mock up the blue top with green bottoms. Here’s the result:

Some of you may like that look, but I’m not a big fan. But it was interesting to see, to say the least.

Any other combos out there (you can look at the entire album here) that weren’t done you’d like to see? Perhaps we can convince Matthew to mock another couple up.

Let us know in the comments below — and give Matthew a nice virtual clap for his efforts on this one!

The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: If you’ve been reading the ticker all week, you know Phil has been running a Top 10 list of Greatest Negro League uniforms (they’ve been running two a day). Yesterday, the Top Two were revealed. … No Phillies player will wear No. 34 in 2018 in honor of Roy Halladay (from Mike Chamernik). Also buried in there is the news that Pat Neshek will become the first player to wear No. 93 in MLB history. … Also from Mike: The party game Cards Against Humanity, known for previous publicity stunts such as buying land on the Mexican border to prevent President Trump from constructing a border wall and digging a giant hole in the ground for Black Friday, has bought the naming rights to a minor league stadium in Joliet, Il. It will now be known, in typical CAH fashion, as “The Cards Against Humanity Baseball Place.” … Chris Geis visited the Catfish Hunter museum in Hertford, North Carolina, and sent along this pic. “There was a trove of uni-related stuff and I did not have time to stay but a few minutes, but here are a couple of pics and I will get more the next time I am there,” he says.

Pro Football News: Some Washington players dressed in Santa suits and Grinch masks under their practice unis for practice (thanks, Kris). … The Saints are going all black on Sunday (from Russell Goutierez). … If you put all nine of the Browns’ gameday posters in order, it creates the team’s helmet stripe (from Robert Hayes). … Carson Wentz got his offensive line cowboy boots personalized with their uni numbers for Christmas (from Sam McKinley). … The uniforms of the Fujitsu Frontiers of the Japanese X-League seem to have been completely stolen from the Cincinnati Bearcats (from @realnrb). … Von Miller will wear cleats with a cartoon of himself in a Santa hat on Sunday (from Josh Albertine). … For some reason, it appears the Cowboys were practicing with high school or college-sized footballs, as NFL balls don’t have stripes (excellent find by Sterling Roth). … Hold everything, it appears to be a Wilson Slick Training ball for wet weather (from Carter Dunn). … Back in the 60s, the 40-yard-line marker also included a kick-off marker (from Bill Kellick).

College/High School Football News: Ohio’s typical shoulder strips were relegated to the sleeves, presumably to make room for their Bahamas Bowl patch (from Noah Wolf). … Speaking of the Bahamas Bowl, players wore American and Bahamian flag decals on their helmets, but Ohio’s Nathan Rourke added a Canadian flag decal. Naturally, Rourke is Canadian (thanks, Alex). … One more Ohio/Bahamas Bowl item: Connor Brown had a captain’s C instead of the bowl patch (from Dave Fryer). … Central Michigan wore “Oh my!” decals during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in honor of their alum Dick Enberg (from Dan Murphy).

Hockey News: Sabres goalie Robin Lehner wore Gerry Desjardin’s mask from the 1970s during practice yesterday (from @brobosa). … Sweden’s sweaters at the World Juniors featured copious amounts of advertising (John Oncea).

NBA News: The Grizzlies’ City Edition unis were formally launched yesterday. The wordmark is inspired by protesters’ signage from the 1968 Memphis sanitation worker strike, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final protest actions before his assassination in Memphis that same year (from Robert Hayes). … Some (most?) Blazers fans believe that the team’s red “Statement” uniform is bad luck (from David Christopher West). …  The Erie BayHawks of the NBA G-League are wearing 1980s Hawks-styled fauxbacks on Feb. 3. (from Billy Hartman). … Speaking of the G-League, get your nostalgia juices flowing with these Nickelodeon Rugrats-inspired unis for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

College/High School Hoops News: Villanova and Hofstra played a neutral-site game at the Nassau Coliseum, with Villanova the designated home team mere feet from the Hofstra campus. Arena officials apparently used the Long Island Nets’ court and only added a giant Villanova logo to center court (from John Muir). … Check out the stripes on these 1972 Kingman (Ks.) High School unis!  (from Keith Means). …

Soccer News: A whole bunch of kits have been leaked: Paris Saint-GermainChelsea, England, Brazil and France. … Peru’s 2018 kits have been released.

Grab Bag: Wicked cool article about the “ghost signs” around Omaha. Some of them are absolutely gorgeous (from @GKG_77). … Cook Out, a southern fast food chain, is giving away this Cook Out-branded basketball jersey on Christmas Day (from James Lee Gilbert).

An Interesting NFL Chinstrap Habit

Click to enlarge

Reader Jon Solomonson recently brought something interesting to my attention: Former NFL linebacker Mike Curtis, who was best known for his time with the Colts but also played for the Seahawks, used to wear his chinstrap on top of his helmet during practices or while standing on the sidelines. In addition to the photo shown above, you can see him doing it in several of these shots and in this video footage.

I was intrigued. Did Curtis arrange to have a snap installed on his helmet crown (sort of like Sterling Sharpe used to have)? If so, was it put there by the equipment staff or by the helmet manufacturer?

Curtis is now 74 years old and lives in Florida, where I recently tracked him down for a phone interview. Here’s the very quick transcript:

Uni Watch: How did you start wearing your chinstrap on top of your helmet?

Mike Curtis: I started doing that so I wouldn’t have to deal with the strap while we were practicing. There’s a hole up there on the top of the helmet for air circulation, and I could stick the end of that thing [he apparently means the snap or buckle — PL] in there, in the roof of my hat. I only did it in practice, not in games.

UW: So you didn’t have a snap or other piece of hardware installed up there? You just used the ventilation hole that was already there?

MC: Yes.

UW: Was this your idea, or did you see other players doing it and get the idea from them?



MC: Just something I did myself.

UW: I’ve only seen photos of you wearing the strap this way when you were with the Seahawks. Did you also do it with the Colts, or even in college?

MC: Yep, always did it.

And there you go.

Also: If you go back and look at the full-size version of the photo at the top of the page, you can see that Curtis had his uniform number written on his chinstrap. I’ve only known of two other teams with uni-numbered chinstraps: the Chargers and Chiefs.

(Special thanks to Michael Princip for his assistance in tracking down and contacting Mike Curtis.)

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Kris Gross

Baseball News: The Toledo Mud Hens, Triple-A affiliate of the Tigers, are giving away Kirby Puckett bobbleheads this upcoming season. The only issue? They can’t determine which uni number Puckett wore during his 21 games in Toledo in 1984, so they’re asking fans for help (from @Dascenzo). … Here are Phil’s Nos. 3 and 4 picks in his Negro League uniform rankings. … Nice photo of Dodgers legends Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, and Gil Hodges building a snowman at Ebbets Field (thanks BSmile). … Also from BSmile, these 1946 Cleveland Buckeyes unis featured a patch for winning the 1945 Negro League World Series. … Alabama C Sam Praytor has “Exodus 20:15” embroidered onto his catcher’s mitt. That’s the Bible verse that says, among other things, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Pro Football News: Looks like the Eagles will wear black on Christmas Day. It’s an odd color choice, because they’ll be playing the Raiders (from Blake Fox). … The Cardinals will go mono-red on Sunday against the Giants (from Josh Pearlman). … In preparation for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, the Dolphins posted footage of a 1971 playoff game between the two teams. Check out the Miami jerseys, with no sleeve stripes! (From Russell Goutierez.) … These Steelers had some seriously dirty uniforms after a very muddy loss to the Browns 35 years ago (from @PGH_Sports_Date). … The Charlotte Checkers of the AHL wore jerseys last night designed by Panthers QB Cam Newton, featuring Newton himself (from Scott Leighty). … Following an incident in the Cowboys/Raiders game Sunday, the NFL told officials not to use index cards to measure first downs. … Interested in a Cowboys-branded gym? Cowboys Fit is the place for you (thanks Brinke). … Looks like pro wrestling mogul Vince McMahon, who founded the ill-fated XFL back in the early aughts, may be looking to get back into the world of pro football.

College Football News: Auburn helmets will have raised “War Eagle” lettering on the back bumper for their Peach Bowl game. … The Eastern Michigan football equipment staff celebrates the holidays with a tree made of helmets and footballs. … It appears helmets for Rockdale High School in Texas have two different shades of gold (from Glen Brockenbush).

Hockey News: The Kalamazoo Wings, EHCL affiliate of the Canucks, will celebrate 25 years of The Mighty Ducks with these jerseys tonight. … The Orlando Solar Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are getting in the holiday spirit with their jerseys (from Mike Slavonic). … Cross-listed from the football section: The Charlotte Checkers of the AHL wore jerseys last night designed by Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, featuring Cam Newton (from Scott Leighty). … TheGoalNet.com did a review of goalie gear trends in 2017. … A new museum exhibit on the history of ice skating in New York (NYT link) includes some archival NHL gear.

NBA News: Knicks G Jarrett Jack was missing the Nike logo on his jersey last night (from Ryan Spies). … A Reddit user created NBA jersey concepts based on ugly Christmas sweaters (from Jeremy Hartman). … The Sixers went with the bell logo design at center court last night. That court design was supposedly going to be used with the team’s second alternate jersey, which hasn’t yet been released. The team wore its standard blue uniforms last night (from @CtownManly). … The Warriors released their jersey schedule for the rest of the season (from @seanwc92). … Apparently Nike’s replica NBA jerseys have issues too, as the numbers apparently peel off very easily. Check out the reviews here (from Michael Curry). … The Timberwolves’ website now allows fans to purchase their tickets based on which uniform the team is wearing (from F.K. Yaaj).

Soccer News: New home and away kits for Atlantic City FC of the NPSL (from Ed Zelaski). … Scottish Championship team Greenock Morton FC has new home kits for the 2018-19 season. The shirt was designed by a fan and won a fan vote (thanks Jamie).

Grab Bag: This local uniform shop in Miami Township, Ohio makes band uniforms for schools across the country (from Liberty Bowman).

• • • • •

Phil will be here tomorrow and Sunday with his usual weekend extravaganza. I’ll be back on Monday, which is Christmas Day, with the winners of annual year-end raffle.

If you’re traveling this weekend, travel safe. If you’re working, thanks for keeping the world spinning while the rest of us are holiday-ing. And if the Christmas is a bummer for you for whatever reason, as it is for many people, please accept a hug from me. Peace. — Paul

IOC Rows the Boat With New OAR Logo and Guidelines

As you’re probably aware, Russia was banned from the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics due to a doping scandal, but individual Russian athletes may be permitted to compete as independent “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” or OARs, if they can demonstrate that they’re clean. Yesterday we got the first indication of what those athletes will be permitted to wear.


First, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released the logo shown at right. That logo, along with the words “Olympic Athlete from Russia” and/or the letters “OAR,” may appear on the uniforms worn by the approved Russian athletes. If the logo looks really plain, well, that’s the idea — they don’t want to glorify Russia.

Still, I’ve heard from many people — people who know more about the international sporting scene than I do — that the inclusion of the word “Russia” is going to be a major sore point for many nations and their athletes, because it somewhat defeats the purpose of banning Russia from the Games. Independent athletes at previous Olympics have worn uniforms without any country identifier. The rumor supposedly floating around is that the IOC didn’t want to omit the word “Russia” for fear that Russian athletes would boycott the Games altogether.

The IOC also announced a list of uniform OAR uniform guidelines. Among the highlights:

• When using the “Olympic Athlete from Russia” wording, the type size must be consistent throughout. Although not explicitly stated, the clear intent here is to prevent the word “Russia” from being larger than the other words.

• Wording should be in English and should be — I love this — “as generic as possible.”

• Uniforms must be rendered in one or two colors. This seems specifically intended to prevent a design using the three colors of the Russian flag.

• Similarly, any use of blue or red “may not be in exactly the same pantone” as the official Russian flag colors. The IOC is suggesting darker shades of those colors.

• Any spot that would normally have a coat of arms or a national team logo must instead have the new OAR logo.

That still leaves lots of questions. First and foremost, who will design the OAR uniforms? According to this item, “Kit designs are currently being drawn up by individual Russian national [sport] federations before being sent to the IOC for approval.” And once the designs are approved, who will manufacture them? Will there be a single manufacturer, or will it vary by sport? According to this story (NYT link), Nike is unlikely to be involved except for hockey, where Nike is the official outfitter.

Speaking of hockey, the OAR hockey jerseys that supposedly leaked earlier this week (we linked to that item in yesterday’s Ticker) are probably not legit, because they don’t have the OAR logo, although they could presumably replace the skater’s silhouette with the logo.

The whole thing sounds like a clusterfuck. But hey, what would the Olympics be without a clusterfuck? At least the Russian figure skaters won’t be affected, because they just wear costumes, although they’re presumably have to stick to the two-color limit. It’s unclear whether they’ll be banned from using music by Russian composers, like Stravinsky or Balakirev.

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LAST CALL for the year-end raffle: Today is the final day to enter the annual year-end raffle. I will stop accepting entries at 7pm Eastern tonight. Full details here. The winners will be announced on Christmas Day.

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Just in time for Christmas: Lots of people, myself included, have been getting something special in the mail over the past few days — the Uni Watch Athletic Club shirt designed by Bryan Molloy. Here’s the full package, including the custom-designed mailer in the top-left corner (for all of these photos, you can click to enlarge):

In case you’ve forgotten or need a refresher, this design is based on the design for this year’s Purp Walk shirt, which in turn was based on the New York Athletic Club logo.

The front of the shirt has the winged stirrup foot on the upper chest, plus this photo also shows the custom hangtag (attached with color-appropriate bakery twine, don’tcha know):

The back has the full-size UWAC logo in all its glory:

And then I also got the bonus sticker (left) and magnet:

Tremendous job by Bryan with this project. Also, he and I have been thinking that the winged stirrup logo would look good in some other applications — including on a baseball cap. More on that soon.

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One-two-three-four!: Everyone’s favorite (okay, only) hockey-rock band, the Zambonis, have a new song, called “Joey Saves (Dee Dee Scores).” It’s a tribute to the Ramones, and I’m proud to have the song’s video making its world premiere here on Uni Watch. If you’ve ever wanted to see an animation of Johnny Ramone shooting a hockey puck with his guitar — well, you probably didn’t realize you wanted to see that, but it’s still pretty cool. Dig:

A vinyl 7″ will be released in a few months, but for now you can support the Zambonis by downloading the tune here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: Walter Goldbach, who drew Chief Wahoo when he was a teen-ager, died last week (from Jason Hillyer). … The Springfield Thunderbirds — the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers — will wear Springfield Indians throwbacks, complete with an Indian head jersey crest, on Jan. 6 (from Steve Forni).

Baseball News: Here’s a old article indicating that the first “Hit/Error” scoreboard indicator was installed at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis in 1938. The article also states that yellow baseballs and batting helmets were proposed for that year but not pursued (great stuff from Jerry Wolper). … Here are Nos. 5 and 6 in Phil’s Negro League uni ranking countdown. … With the upcoming NHL Winter Classic being played at the Mets’ ballpark, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s leg pads and catching glove for the game features the Mets’ skyline logo background (from Mike Engle). … Here’s a pretty easy MLB uni number quiz (from Derek Linn). … Check it out: Reggie Jackson, then with the A’s, on the Cincinnati Bengals sideline during a Bengals/Raiders playoff game (from Douglas Ford). … Back in the day, MLB teams sometimes played midseason exhibition games against their minor league affiliates. Russ Havens has ticket stubs from several of those games, including the Orioles vs. the Rochester Red Wings, the Angels vs. the Salt Lake Gulls, the Red Sox vs. the Trenton Thunder, and the Reds vs. the Denver Zephyrs. … Looks like something went seriously awry with this Australian Baseball League coach’s jersey (from Tom Pope).

NFL News: Good article on the Cowboys’ chief brand officer (NYT link), who happens to be owner Jerry Jones’s daughter. … papaceelo notes that Bucs QB Jameis Winston didn’t have his usual captaincy patch for Monday night’s game against the Falcons. … Cross-listed from the baseball section: Reggie Jackson, then with the Oakland A’s, on the Bengals sideline during a Bengals/Raiders playoff game (from Douglas Ford).

College Football News: Here’s a look back at Auburn’s Peach Bowl uniform history. … All of Pitt’s graphics for National Signing Day use a throwback motif. Hmmmmm.

Hockey News: Cross-listed from the baseball section: With the Winter Classic set to be played at the Mets’ ballpark, Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist’s leg pads and catching glove for the game features the New York Mets’ skyline logo background (from Mike Engle). … Ron Liebhart notes that former NHLer and current Asian Leaguer Matt Dalton is another goalie who routinely uses a backwards stick blade. … Check out this 1979 Oilers/Canucks preseason game footage. “Oilers have mismatched pants, some players in white helmets, and all Oilers players are NNOB,” says Stephen Schapansky.

Basketball News: I didn’t realize this until Michael Raskin pointed it out the other day, but every single NBA arena has a corporate-advertised name, except for Madison Square Garden. Gross. … Good analysis of how the Celtics (and the NBA in general) became a lifestyle brand (NYT link). … Now that Kobe Bryant has had two numbers retired, here’s a piece speculating on who might be the next NBA player with two retired numbers. … Spalding made a pair of black basketballs to give to Kobe Bryant. … LaVar Ball, father of Lakers G Lonzo Ball, wants to launch a new pro basketball league, with a silhouette of a dunking Lonzo serving as the logo. Key quote from LaVar: “We don’t need a logo of a guy dribbling. Nobody does that anymore.” … Looks like the Rockets and Warriors went color vs. color back in the day. Judging by the uniforms, that game had to be from somewhere between 1969 and ’71. … Throwbacks tomorrow for Old Dominion (from Ted Chastain).

Soccer News: The latest MLS expansion team will be in Nashville. No word yet on the team name, colors, or even when its first season will be (from Wade Heidt). … “Sandro Wagner, a forward from TSG Hoffenheim, will be joining Bayern München in the winter transfer window,” says Anthony Zydzik. “He chose jersey No. 2, which is unusual for a non-center back to wear. He says he chose it because there weren’t many numbers available to choose from, and he liked the symbolism of it being his second stint at Bayern.”

Grab Bag: Senators in Malaysia think that AirAsia’s new uniforms are too revealing. … New uniforms in the works for the Mozambican police. … New uniforms for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. … New uniform outfitter for Major League Rugby (from Andrew M.). … Love this 1920s maps showing sheep and wheat production in Australia. How often do you see a map with “Some Sheep” and “No Sheep” labels? (Big thanks to @OlegKvasha). … Here’s a review of 2018 world tour cycling kits (from Mitch Teich). … The founders of chess.com tried to see if it’s possible to play a game of chess while sitting like the figures shown in the new 2018 World Chess Championship logo.

All That Glitters

Here’s something from a few weeks ago that I missed during the Thanksgiving weekend: Lakers fans apparently think the team’s current shade of gold is too yellow.

 Key passage from that article:

“We started hearing early on that the gold looked too yellow,” said Tim Harris, the Lakers’ president of business operations and chief operating officer.

It was considered serious enough that the Lakers took the question to Nike, which determined the shade was identical to what the franchise wore in the early 2000s. Lakers gear had gradually taken on a more golden hue under Adidas, Harris said.

When he looked closely at the new Nike duds, Harris decided the problem wasn’t with the uniforms, but the accessories.

“To me, the tights looked yellow,” Harris said, “and I thought maybe if we can apply a contrast to this it will show more gold.”

The Lakers ditched the monochromatic look championed by Nike, and starting on Nov. 17 against Phoenix switched back to white leggings with their gold uniforms.

“It’s less like a highlighter,” Harris said.

Two nights later, they replaced the gold socks with white ones, leaving [equipment manager Carlos] Maples with racks of gold — or, rather, yellow — leggings and socks and sleeves for which he has no use.

Interesting. I like how Nike basically blames the whole thing on Adidas. As for Nike’s claim that the current color matches the early-2000s shade, Uni Watch reader Derek Lady isn’t buying it. “No way is it the same gold. I have the uniform. I’m an artist and graphic designer and I can see the color difference. One is warm, the other cold yellow.”

Several other Lakers fans have said the same thing to me, and some fans have tried comparing old and new photos to show the color difference. I’m generally skeptical of this approach, because lighting conditions and photo equipment can vary so much.

I asked hue guru Donovan Moore, who runs the excellent ColorWerx site, what he thought of all this. Here’s an edited version of his response:

Any color changes are undoubtedly due to the move from Reebok/Adidas, which used the DyStar textile system, to Nike, which has its own set of proprietary fabric colors. That said, you’d think Nike would have taken greater care in making sure a color as iconic as the Lakers’ gold (which is shared by just about every other NBA team that uses yellow/gold) would appear unchanged. For what it’s worth, the Lakers’ official Pantone specs have not changed, but things can still appear different.

I’m always dubious of using photographic evidence to assess color differences, however. All of the lighting and/or environmental conditions have to be just right to get an accurate comparison.

For what it’s worth, I agree that the Lakers’ current uniforms look a bit too banana-y, although I’m not sure I would have noticed it if other people hadn’t pointed it out.

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Century mark: Yesterday was 100 years to the day since the Maple Leafs franchise, and the NHL itself, made their debuts. The Leafs were called the Toronto Arenas back then, and yesterday the team wore a very nice-looking set of 1917 Arenas throwbacks to mark the centennial anniversary. Here are some additional photos and videos.

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More mini: I received an early Christmas present in the mail yesterday from longtime Uni Watch reader/pal Michael Princip: a mini-helmet incorporating the Hale America-style shield logo that fellow reader/pal Rob Ullman recently designed. Check it out (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):

Michael has done some industrial design work for Schutt (as you may recall, he was the lead designer on the Schutt F7), so he used a Schutt XP mini-shell. As you can see, he also gave the facemask a Sean Taylor-esque tape job.

There are several other custom elements. Michael used a 3-D printer to create a miniature version of Schutt’s twist-clip nose bumper (an element that isn’t normally available for mini-makers), and I was surprised to see my own signature on the bumper plate:

How did Michael get my signature on there? Turns out he traced it from this photo, which I had previously run here on the site.

More customization: The top of the shell has hand-drilled ventilation holes. “If you look at all other Schutt mini-helmets, they don’t have the circular vent holes,” said Michael. “The holes are one of my favorite features on that helmet, so made sure your mini-helmet had them.”

And as a finishing touch, Michael included merit decals on the back of the shell:

Very cool. Thanks so much, Michael.

Just think, two months ago I didn’t know jack shit about mini-helmets. Now I have two of them. Look at that — it’s a collection:

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Money, mouth, etc.: Yesterday I donated $469 to the American Indian College Fund. That was our profit this year on “I Miss RFK” shirts in ’Skins colors. (Any RFK profits that we generate in the remainder of this month will be paid out in 2018.) ESPN routinely matches its employees’ charitable contributions, so the total will be well over $900 — not bad.

I’m proud to support this organization, and I thank everyone who purchased these shirts.

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Raffle reminder: In case you missed it last Friday, our annual year-end raffle is currently underway. The deadline for entering is tomorrow evening, 7pm. Full details here.

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Holiday tradition: ’Tis the week before Christmas / And at Uni Watch HQ / We’ve hung our stirrups by the chimney / How about you?

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball NewsThe Charleston RiverDogs are celebrating their 25th anniversary next season. Since they’re dogs, they’ve come up with an anniversary logo that marks the occasion in dog years. …  Reader Tom Tagliabue was touring the USS Lexington Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas, and spotted this old baseball jersey, glove, and bat used by the ship’s baseball team in 1936. … Phil is continuing his countdown of his top 10 favorite Negro League uniforms. Here are Nos. 7 and 8. … Tigers fans want the team to retire Lou Whitaker’s No. 1, but the team isn’t inclined to do that because Whitaker isn’t in the Hall of Fame (from Brinke).

NFL NewsA Detroit Ford dealer is running an ad that features Lions QB Matthew Stafford and his “teammates” — i.e., a bunch of guys wearing oversized No. 00 jerseys (from Jeffrey Sak). … Brinke came across this photo of Paul Brown and a Bengals player, likely in the late ’60s or early ’70s. The black trim around the orange jersey stripe is much thicker than a traditional jersey of that era, and the black pants stripe is much thinner. “Maybe a variance in production or a new supplier?” Brinke asks. … Barstool Sports is threatening to sue the NFL for stealing its trademarked slogan and putting it on merch. … The Steelers’ longstanding protocol of omitting front helmet numbers during the preseason led to an oddity in their Pro Bowl promo graphic.

College Football News: Heavy rain in the Dallas area meant the grounds crew got a late start on painting the end zones for the Frisco Bowl last night (from Mark Johnson). … San Diego State will wear helmet decals honoring the five branches of the military on Saturday in the Armed Forced Bowl (from Nathan Clark).

Hockey NewsAccording to Mike Reilly, it appears that the NHL has made a change to its game pucks. The NHL 100 logo has been removed from the back, and the white inner ring is a bit smaller than in years past. … The Sharks will be giving away a nutcracker in the likeness of D Brett Burns on Thursday — though the figurine has him wearing the wrong color pants (from @GKG_77). … Olympic hockey uniforms for Russia — er, Olympic Athletes from Russia — may have leaked. …  South Korea’s goalie was using a backwards stick in a recent game (from The Goal Net).

NBA NewsThe Undefeated has a new piece on NBA players and their shooting sleeves (from K.C. Kless). … The Jazz will officially unveil their fourth uniforms on Dec. 27 (from Mike Chamernik). … Here’s some good shots of Kobe Bryant in high school. Who knew that Lower Merion wore numbers on their shorts at the time? (From Leif Nomeland‏.) … Wizards G John Wall saluted Kobe Bryant by wearing Bryant’s signature sneakers last night (from @Hall21rip).

College Hoops NewsWisconsin will retire No. 44 in honor of former PF Frank Kaminsky in February. … Florida Gulf Coast went GFGS last night (from Joe Balsamo‏). … Concordia University in Texas, a D-III school, calls its teams the Tornados. Their basketball jerseys shorten that moniker to simply “Nados” (from Keith Leventhal‏). … D-II Wheeling Jesuit went big with their jersey numbers (from Andrew Kurzawski‏).

Soccer NewsLeicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho has been wearing interesting diacritical marks on his NOB — note the dots beneath the first and last letters (from Richard). … Reader Josh Hinton sends along a pair of jersey leaks: Peru’s World Cup “home” kit and Atlanta United’s 2018 road kit. … This blog digs into the eclectic Chelsea kits of the early ’80s (from Denis Hurley). … Real Madrid is letting FIFA 18 players go BFBS in the video game (from Luke Plunkett‏).

Grab Bag: Over on The Driver Suit Blog, David Firestone handed out awards for his favorite racing paint schemes of 2017. … The logo for the 2018 World Chess Championships is arguably NSFW. … Slovenia has unveiled its opening ceremonies uniforms for the upcoming Olympics (from Phil). … A Chinese clothing company is suing Apple, claiming the tech company stole its logo and used it as the App Store’s logo.