Yesterday I had a sub-lede about how LeBron James wore mismatched sneakers on Sunday. That led me to write a new ESPN piece about pro and college basketball players with mismatched footwear (including Tracy McGrady in the 2004 NBA All-Star Game, shown above). Check it out here.
One item not mentioned in that piece: According to this Darryl Dawkins obituary (WaPo link), “During the 1980 NBA Finals, Sixers Coach Billy Cunningham took a call from an angry sneaker executive who said Dawkins was wearing a Nike shoe on one foot and a Pony shoe on the other. He had signed a contract with both.” I’ve so far been unable to find a photo showing that.
(Big thanks to John Fitzgerald for the Dawkins tidbit.)
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Raffle reminder: In case you missed it on Friday, our annual year-end raffle is currently underway. The deadline for entering is this Thursday evening. Full details here.
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Made to measure: The ongoing chatter about the “index card measurement” in Sunday night’s Cowboys/Raiders game has led lots of people to say, “There’s got to be a better way to measure for first downs.”
The most obvious (or at least obvious-seeming) solution would be a chip implanted in the ball or some similar tech-driven fix. But it turns out that that’s a lot trickier than it sounds (NYT link).
As it happens, there have been lots of alternative measuring systems proposed over the years, and I even wrote about a bunch of them back in 2010. Start here and then go here. It’s fun stuff — I’d actually forgotten about most of it until I looked up those entries yesterday.
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Collector’s Corner By Brinke Guthrie
IHOP TV Football! The exciting game where you’re the TV quarterback — calling the plays along with the pros! It’s some type of “punch-out game,” and I’m not quite sure how it works, but it sure has nice graphics!
Now for the rest of this week’s picks:
• Lotsa great vintage NBA team logos to be found on this 1970s sleeping bag!
• The “National Star” sponsored this promo item called the “Superstars of Hockey.” Dial your favorite player and learn about Hockey’s Top Stars! (Like the fact that Rangers goalie Ed Giacomin is 5’11”, 180 pounds, and was born on June 6, 1939, in Sudbury, Ontario.) The more you turn, the more you learn!
• Here’s a nice set of AFL/NFL gumball helmets. The seller says they’re from Sears in 1968. The Broncos and Steelers helmet stickers have seen better days, but otherwise the rest of the batch looks pretty good from here!
• Cue up your turntable for this 45-RPM record from the late 1970s featuring the Toronto Blue Jays theme song, called, of all things, “The Blue Jays.” Sung by “Paul’s People.” PL, we didn’t know about this part of your career!
• Here’s a late-1970s Brewers wall plaque featuring their terrific ball-in-glove logo. Only one problem here: the logo is, er, backwards. This wasn’t a DIY, either — these guys were official licensees! Although after this, probably not for long.
• And I have to admit that I got myself an early Christmas present: a 1969 NFL radio! Still in the box and in perfect condition.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read Collector’s Corner in 2017. We’re taking next week off but will return for year nine (!) on Wednesday, Jan. 3rd. Got something you’d like to submit? Tweet/follow me on Twitter. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
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The Ticker By Alex Hider
Baseball News: Our own Phil Hecken ranked his top 10 favorite Negro League uniforms. … Staying in the Negro Leagues, check out this photo of the Harlem Stars’ Satchel Paige and Goose Tatum — with Tatum in shorts! (From BSmile.) … Here’s an interestingredesign concept for the Indians (from @aboutamoo). … Paul Ricciardi‘s son has a friend who plays baseball for McDaniel College in Maryland, and he was able to snag this old jersey before it was thrown out.Nice stitching detail. … A friend of Jim Brunetti recently posted this photo on Facebook. His friend is related to Lester Lanning, who is pictured alongside none other than Babe Ruth. Great old unis to boot! … Researcher Craig Brown, who specializes in 19th-century uniforms, has discovered that the 1856 Gotham team wore little “G” initials on their coat lapels.
Football News: Former Falcons LB Tommy Nobis died last Wednesday, so the Falcons wore a “60” memorial decal in his honor last night. … Speaking of the Falcons, before Brett Favre joined the Packers and the two-point chinstrap club, he found a way to get his four-point chinstrap out of the way during warmups (from @70sLogos). … Could these be Georgia Tech’s new unis? They’ll be switching to Adidas next season (from Richard Musterer).
Grab Bag: Virginia Tech will be building a student-athlete performance center on campus.Photos here (from Andrew Cosentino). … France’s national handball team has an awesome logo that has a silhouette of a player incorporated into a rooster’s head (from Jeremy Brahm). … We all know how much Paul loves plastic bag closures. Well, a New York court just ruled in an intellectual property case concerning two of that industry’s largest companies (from Seth Horowitz).
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In case you’re wondering, I don’t know any more than you do about John Skipper, who resigned as ESPN’s President yesterday. I’ve been in the same room with him for several meetings (including one that was held just last week), but I never had any direct contact or communication with him. He cited an ongoing substance abuse problem in his resignation letter, so I hope he’s okay. — Paul
Yesterday’s Ravens/Browns game featured the resurgence of a little-noted uniform detail that you rarely see nowadays: the sewn-in jersey pocket. Once fairly common, the sewn-in pocket has largely been supplanted in recent years by the strap-on hand-warmer pouch, but you’d never know that from watching yesterday’s game in Cleveland. Ravens players with the sewn-in pockets included running backs Danny Woodhead (shown above) and Alex Collins, tight end Benjamin Watson, linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon, safety Tony Jefferson, and cornerback Anthony Levine. And on the Browns’ side of the ball, wide receiver Josh Gordon was pocketed as well.
The funny thing is that it wasn’t all that cold in Cleveland, with temperatures in the high 30s.
In most other respects, it was a quiet day around the league. A few notes:
Meanwhile, in case you missed it, both of Saturday’s NFL games were uni-notable:
• First, the Lions wore their brutal mono-grey Thursday-night uniforms while the Bears wore their standard navy-over-white combo, resulting in a very rare sight: a non-Thursday game with neither team wearing white (additional photos here).
(My thanks to @clevelove1, Andrew Cosentino, and Pro Football Journal for their contributions to this section.)
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Ebony and ivory: Interesting move by LeBron James, who began last night’s Cavs/Wizards game by wearing mismatched sneakers — one white and one black. Both sneakers were emblazoned with the word “Equality”:
James changed sneakers at halftime, switching to a pair of matching red sneakers. It’s not clear, at least to me, if he was told to stop wearing the mismatched pair or if he did so on his own. (Update: Reader/commenter Mike Engle came up with this article, which features the following postgame quote from James: “I didn’t play well in the first half, and I’m very superstitious, so I took ’em off.”
By coincidence, Arizona State forward Mickey Mitchell also wore mismatched footwear for yesterday’s game against Vanderbilt, although there’s no indication that he was trying to communicate any sort of sociocultural message:
Update: Reader/commenter William informs me that Kyrie Irving of the Celtics wore mismatched shoes on Friday night.
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NBA Uni Tracking By Collin Wright
A season-high 14 color-vs.-color games were played this past week. That accounted for 28% of all games played, also a season-high. You can see those numbers reflected in this week’s chart (click to enlarge):
Of the 70 color-vs.-color games that have been played so far this season, the Rockets have played the most (11) followed by the Celtics and Bulls (10 each).
The Pistons, Timberwolves, and 76ers all debuted their third uniforms on court in the past week, so we’ve now seen all 90 uniforms for the first three “editions,” as well as seven of the eight throwbacks. Only Atlanta’s throwback set has yet to be worn in a game. Several teams have teased the on-court debut of their fourth uniform for games on or around Christmas, so we can expect to start seeing those within a week or so.
Meanwhile, now that each team has played at least 30% of its schedule, I thought it would be fun to see which uniforms have the best record. Considering only uniforms that have been worn at least two times, we have four undefeated designs: Cavs black (4-0), Warriors throwback (5-0), Rockets black (9-0), and Spurs silver (4-0).
Honorable mention goes to the Knicks and Pistons regular white uniforms, which have been worn in 13 victories each, the most of any set.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Hornets throwback, Lakers purple, Trail Blazers red, and Wizards navy sets are all winless to date.
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Curling update: I haven’t had much to say about curling this year because our team, frankly, hasn’t played well. But last night we finally notched our first win of the year (no thanks to me — I played like shit). As you can see, Phil wore a seasonally appropriate sweater for the occasion — nice.
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Culinary Corner: I don’t usually repeat recipes from previous Culinary Corner installments. But I make an exception each December for my favorite holiday preparation, homemade Irish cream. In other words, homemade Bailey’s. In other words, melted ice cream that gets you drunk. It’s super-easy to make, it’ll make you the hero of whatever holiday party you bring it to, and lots of you have told me how much you like it. Here’s how to do it:
Start with some decent Irish whiskey — Bushmills, Jameson, Tullamore Dew, something like that (but not super-high-end stuff, because the nuances will be lost in this preparation). Pour a pint of the whiskey into a large-ish container and mix it with a can of sweetened condensed milk; a pint of heavy whipping cream; a tablespoon of chocolate syrup; a teaspoon of vanilla extract; a teaspoon of instant espresso dissolved in two tablespoons of hot water; and a quarter-teaspoon of almond extract.
Mix well (if the container has a tight lid, you can just shake vigorously), refrigerate, serve over ice, and get ready to become the most popular person in the room. No need to thank me afterward, but you’ll want to do so anyway — trust me.
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Click to enlarge
Three of my favorite things: The Tugboat Captain (who took the photo while also modeling for it), Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin (who spends an inordinate amount of time rolling over on her back), and striped socks. A win-win-win!
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Raffle reminder: In case you missed it on Friday, our annual year-end raffle is currently underway. Full details here.
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The Ticker By Jamie Rathjen
NFL News: Someone put a Packers splash guard in a urinal in Chicago’s Public Safety Headquarters. A reporter actually asked about it a police superintendent’s press conference (from Mike Chamernik).
Hockey News: Several items from Saturday’s NHL 100 Classic in Ottawa, all sent in by Wade Heidt: First, in this picture you can see that the Canadiens wore blue helmets, which are normally worn with their red jerseys, and Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson had new pads for the occasion. … The pre-game ceremonies featured the uniforms worn when the Canadiens and original Senators faced off on the first night of the opening NHL season. … The Senators alumni game on Friday night featured separate ’90s throwbacks, at least for the jerseys (note the current logo visible on the shorts). The alumni game was played on a special rink on Parliament Hill with a view of the main Parliament building, the Centre Block. … I’d like to add to this that the ice markings were at times barely visible, even compared to other outdoor games. … One of the linesmen in yesterday’s Golden Knights/Panthers game was wearing a numberless sweater (from Roy Bellamy). … Check out the great “Three Blind Mice” sign on the door of the officials’ dressing room at the Dover (N.H.) Ice Arena (from Tris Wykes).
Basketball News: The Nuggets have officially unveiled their second alternate uniform. Here’s some additional info and a photo gallery (from Robert Hayes). … The Lakers will retire both of Kobe Bryant’s numbers — 8 and 24 — tonight. … New white alternates for Nevada.
Soccer News: Two different shoes, part three: shortly after coming in as a sub on Saturday, Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus changed his boots in an attempt to improve his footing on the pitch. But out of haste or for whatever reason, he only changed one boot, wearing two different ones for the rest of the game. … In Scotland, the entire Hibernian away support were outfitted with green Santa hats for the trip to Aberdeen, thanks to the team’s advertiser. Unfortunately, Hibs changed to black, denying us a festive red-vs.-green matchup. … Dutch team Ajax have put together some great matchday posters this season. … The fans of French team Stade Rennais did a Star Wars-themed display prior to playing Paris Saint-Germain. It says “Star Roaz,” which is half of “Roazhon,” the city of Rennes’s name in Breton.
Grab Bag: The NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush have new helmets with more lime green, says Wade Heidt. They were previously plain black. … Adam Herbst saw a poster for the Fistball Under-18 World Championships, to be held in Roxbury, N.J., next summer. What is fistball, you ask? It’s apparently similar to volleyball, with teams of five players who can only use arms or closed fists to hit the ball. The ball can be hit up to three times before crossing the net, and it’s allowed to bounce each time. It’s played both outdoors (on fields) and indoors (usually on handball courts) on a much larger surface than volleyball.
A couple of months ago, we had our first instance of a team wearing its color rash (hereafter known as CR) uniforms on a non-Thursday, when news broke the Patriots would wear their all-blue CR unis on a Sunday. What we did not know at the time, or at least Paul didn’t (nor did I) was that the NFL had relaxed its rules on CR wearing. Since then, several teams have gone against what had been Thursday-only protocol for the garish duds.
We later found out (Paul covered it here and I expounded upon here (scroll down)) was that teams no longer were prohibited from wearing their CR unis on any day but Thursday (or rather, allowed to wear them any day, as long as they didn’t wear them for a TNF game), AND the Washington Club flexed its muscles and refused to wear their gold CR unis for a Thursday night game, instead wearing mono-burgundy.
Protocol was further broken last Sunday, when the Dallas Cowboys wore their white CR pants (previously worn only with the white CR tops), with their “unlucky” blue jerseys. Perhaps coincidentally, their opponents, the NY Giants, wore their own throwback CR unis.
Now, I’m not sure if this was a one-time exception (because the Giants wore their CR unis) or if the league has further relaxed its rules. But the Cowboys combo of blue over white still marked the first mixing-and-matching of CR unis.
Now, we all know that the CR unis for the most part suck (there a scant few exceptions, like the New Orleans Saints, whose CR unis are arguably better than their regular unis). Head-to-toe monochrome anything (except, maybe white) looks like shitty high school football. So, the CR unis themselves, and by themselves, are a travesty. But…
what if certain elements from the CR unis could be taken and worn with a team’s regular jersey or pants? And what about ditching the mono-socks and shoes. Could we have an ointment for the rash?
. . . . . .
Last weekend I put out a call for help from a graphic designer/photoshopper, and a bunch of you responded (I thank you all for your interest, and perhaps we can use your services down the road). But the first gentleman to positively reply was Matthew Blinco who agreed to help me with a little project you’re about to see below. I asked Matthew if he’d be able to take some of the CR unis (either pants or jerseys) and see how they’d look if they were mix/matched with regular parts of the uniform, and paired with contrasting socks. The results were interesting. I’m not ready to say I think the NFL should let teams go hog-wild and use different elements of the CR program with the regular unis (as the Cowboys did), but some of them don’t look so bad. And if teams could replace the God awful TNF CR unis with a mix/match, it might actually make some of the games a little more…viewable.
I put together a list of several teams for Matthew whose CR unis I thought could be adapted to the mix/match template, and he was able to photoshop them all together for me. Let’s take a look…and see what you think! (Click any images below to enlarge.)
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My first thought was to see how the Bills would look wearing their red CR tops with their regular white pants. I think this one works:
I probably should have left well enough alone with that, as I also asked Matthew to mock up the blue jerseys over the red pants. It’s an interesting combo, but it looks waaaay off with the white hats:
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As you’ll immediately see, this one was a mistake. I thought the lime/neon green jerseys might look ok with a pair of pants that weren’t also…lime/neon green. I was wrong. Nevertheless, Matthew did up a set with the blue, white and gray pants the Seahawks currently have in the rotation. Nothing saved that horrid top.
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The Falcons didn’t just get all red unis for CR, they actually got entirely new unis — and both the jersey and pants look better than anything (but the fauxback) that the Falcons currently wear. I asked Matthew for a mock of the red jersey with black, gray (which they don’t currently have) and white pants — (the gray itself would be a nod to the 1979-89 Falcons). I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good these look:
I asked Matthew to do the white pants both with red and black socks:
Granted, the Falcons don’t have white pants that match those shown (those were simply the red CR pants swapped out), but how good do those unis look with white pants and red socks?
. . .
Since the Falcons also wear a really nice fauxback alternate (and they could use those white pants with the CR jersey if they want), I also asked Matthew to see how that fauxback jersey would look with red or gray pants. Those results weren’t as nice:
The gray pants kinda give a Dirty Birds feel, but I’m just not feeling it:
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To much acclaim, both last season and this, the Chargers went with a royal blue CR uni (and swapped in a gold facemask), and those unis clearly evoked memories of the mid-70s/early 80s Chargers (those had gold pants). I asked Matthew if he could mock up that jersey (and helmet) with their current white pants, and also to create a set of gold pants. I think these might be a nice replacement for the current navy tops:
It’s not quite as great as their early 1960s unis, but it’s a nice reminder of those days.
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The Broncos unis (in which they’ve won three Super Bowls) look dated now (and IMHO they never looked as good as the iterations they wore pre-1997). So when the NFL gave the Broncos non-97-17 templates and allowed them to put the old decal on their hats, I was pumped. Of course, the monochrome orange is brutal, but the jersey and helmet are awesome. So, how about we just throw a pair of white pants with those, shall we?
BOOM! Now we’re cooking with gas. Whatever it takes, the Broncos need to immediately petition the league for a pair of normally striped white pants and wear this combo for the rest of ever.
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From the 1940s through the advent of the TV era, the Rams wore gold jerseys, although those were always worn with white pants. For their CR outfits, the Rams were given an all gold look. I like that jersey, and since I like (usually) the pants to match the hats, I asked Matthew to mock up an inversethrowback. I probably should have specified royal for the pants, rather than just “blue,” but Matthew mocked up a CR modification with darker blue pants. It’s interesting, but I’m not loving it:
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I feel bad for the Jags — they have arguably the worst uniform (and certainly the worst helmet) in pro football, and for their CR uni, the NFL gave them the worst CR outfit (unless Seattle does that for ya) in the game. But, those mustard pants — they might not look so bad if combined with the black or teal tops, right? Surprisingly — they don’t look terrible:
OK, we should probably spend our energy trying to convince the team to completely scrap the current unis, rather than putting other combos together, but it would be interesting to see maybe ONE CR game where they went away from the mono-mustard.
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OK, clearly everyone agrees the Dolphins should just wear these (and add a white top) all the time. But the NFL decided to give the team garish all-orange CR unis, which actually look even worse than Denver’s all orange set. So how might they look if they were to swap aqua elements for their next CR game?
OK, maybe not. Although I kinda like the aqua over orange — it’s very Miami. But with the white hat, the aqua/orange doesn’t really work. Maybe we just fight for them to make the throwbacks their full time unis, yes?
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Just for shits and giggles, I wanted to see how the white CR top (which is gorgeous) would look with OLD GOLD pants (not the current metallic gold they wear). If they could just fix the helmet, this isn’t bad:
Now, if they wear their black tops (in the same style as the white CR top) and change the metallic gold to old gold, we’d have a winner for sure. Because this mono-black isn’t cutting it anymore.
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OK — that’s it for now. I thank you for indulging me — know first and foremost I’m not advocating more than one or two of these mockups to be made semi-permanent (the Broncos would be the one I’d really advocate for, and I like the look of the Falcons CR tops with white pants, as well as Buffalo’s red jersey/white pants combo), but as long as the NFL seems to be relaxing the CR rules, maybe teams can ditch the full mono shit and start wearing some of the elements separately on CR/TNF days. Of course, ideally the NFL should be looking into THROWBACK Thursdays, and not CR if they want to get fans watching. Or maybe not. I’m sure I’m a bit too old to be their target demo these days.
If you guys have any additional suggestions for possible CR mix/matches (and to all those who offered their services as photoshoppers — feel free to mock a few up), let’s hear them.
I want to thank Matthew for all his help this week. Even if you guys don’t like the results, it wasn’t for him lacking the skills and effort. He did my bidding — direct all hatred towards me. LOL.
Here’s more on Matthew:
Matthew Blinco is a graphic designer in Nashville, TN and co-founder of local apparel brand Project 615, you can find your new favorite tee at project615.org. He also buys and sell vintage clothing as a hobby an you can follow him at @relikvtg on Instagram. Matt has been a UW reader for 8-10 years and had 2 designs chosen to win in the Lewis & Clark league design contests a couple of years ago. You can see his portfolio at cannonballcreative.com and is open to freelance opportunities. You can follow him on twitter @mpblinco.
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.
College Hoops News: Yesterday, Louisville wore the cringe-inducing Red Iced Out uniforms that are “reflective,” so certain areas illuminate when hit with a flash. … Louisville basketball has replaced the “CARDS” wordmark on the back of the neck with the Cardinal head logo. Here’s a better look at the new back of the neck logo (from @steagles1). … Stephen F. Austin University has some rather large NOBs (from Andrew Lopez). … One of the players on Western Kentucky was missing a NOB yesterday (from Andrew Jacobs). … Oklahoma State unveiled some new black uniforms for yesterday’s game against FSU. … The Nevada Women’s Basketball team broke out their “Battle Born uniforms yesterday (from John C. Fremont). … Yesterday Oakland University debuted new all-yellow unis for their matchup with Michigan State at Little Caesars Arena. Submitter Timothy Pontzer says, “The jerseys has an Oregon-ish feel complete with a subtle digital camo print.” … Weber State was wearing new alternate grays for the first time this season last night. Submitter Sean L. included a tweet that noted “Script-ish Wildcats across front. Pine Bluff in black.” … In football, Utah vs. BYU is often color vs. color (and they call it the holy war). So, in hoops, the teams went color vs. color (from Zac Ipson).
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…
Celebration: 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
New Orleans: 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
Cure: 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
Las Vegas: 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
New Mexico: 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
Camellia: 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
Boca Raton: 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
Frisco: 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
Gasparilla: 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
Bahamas: 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.