College football uniforms: The winners & the losers

How do you dress a Duck? That problem has vexed officials at the University of Oregon for years. Their team, with its less-than-combative name, has experimented with all sorts of colors and accoutrements. This year,...


You would think that college football uniforms would be a great opportunity for each school to show off its character, roots and aspirations. Alas, most are designed by an anonymous workshop, as often as not owned by Nike. Only certain local traditions survive, and usually only on helmets: lighting bolts enliven the heads of the Air Force cadets, yellow wings those of the Michigan Wolverines (who knew those semi-mythical creatures could fly?). Best of all, Notre Dame includes real gold in its head ware, making the Fighting Irish sparkle like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

From the head down, though, you usually get a mishmash of colors, partly because there are different outfits for home and on the road, and for special occasions. On the road, you are supposed to wear white, though the NCAA bent the rules this year by letting UCLA and USC play each other in full Technicolor—I especially like the Trojans’ yellow pants with red stripes and red jerseys with yellow accents. Clemson keeps it all orange, while Syracuse’s black shirts and orange pants are pretty striking. Old favorites like Ohio State continue to be a sartorial embarrassment (this, on top of their disappointing record this year) in white, red and black combinations.

As a Cincinnatian I particularly like the new accent on the University of Cincinnati Bearcats’ uniform. Their black pants now sprout a swerving stripe that extends up to the white jersey and all the way to the shoulder. It unifies the uniform and exudes speed and strength. And clearly, it’s invigorated both the 10-0 team and its more design-conscious fans.

Critic, curator and museum director Aaron Betsky curated the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2008, ran Rotterdam’s Netherlands Architecture Institute from 2001-2006 and these days, helms the Cincinnati Art Museum. See his previous blogs HERE and check back on Thursday for his next post.

Photos: Oregon: courtesy