Brian Kelly wasn’t stark raving mad about Notre Dame’s terrible home performance against South Florida, no, he was just reacting to a preview of Maryland’s new “pride” uniforms. When the Terrapins took the field on Monday night, their new look became the talk of the sports world and fashion conossieurs everywhere. Were they the worst clothing choice since the fig leaf, a bold and brave idea gone awry, or (gasp) the future of football unis. Maryland’s dual threat unis were so atrocious and outlandish, it got us thinking about their ranking amongst the worst uniforms in college football history. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of recent submissions on the list. So where do the Maryland splatterpaint specials fit in the list of the worst college football unis ever? Let’s find out with our Top 10 countdown…
10) Clemson’s Grape Popsicle
-If I took over the NCAA (no, when I take over the NCAA) my first edict will be this – same colored jersey/pants combos should be outlawed unless they are black or white. Look no further than Texas’ all white road kit or the famous New Zealand All Blacks to see the success of this strategy. Any other colored uniform that goes the one color route is an abomination. Just ask fans of Syracuse, Florida State, West Virginia, and countless others. Clemson’s grape popsicle is perhaps the worst offender, especially with the orange helmet and trim. Seriously, who sat around and thought to themselves, “ya know, if we went out dressed in all purple, we’d really kick some ass.”
9) Toledo’s Yellow Armpits
-The MAC conference brings several worthy candidates from Bowling Green‘s Cleveland Browns ripoff to Akron’s Zips and Eastern Michigan’s green on green disaster (see No. 10). However, these Toledo uniforms rocket to the top of small conference uni shame. First off, the midnight blue/yellow combo is so overdone in college football (see No. 8) that by the time we get to Toledo, the color scheme is decidedly uninspiring. Secondly, the logo is a bit cartoonish. And finally, why are there yellow patches coming out of the armpits? They look like giant pitstains! All the ridiculous trimming and random patches of color feel so fake. You think Joe Paterno would be caught dead sending his team out in something like this?
8) Michigan’s Throwbacks
-These unis will be the Wolverines’ throwbacks as they host Notre Dame this coming weekend in Ann Arbor. Usually, I’m a big fan of throwback uniforms. Through throwback unis, we can celebrate stylish classics from long ago… other times, they are better left to the annals of history so as to not completely scar another generation. Meechigan’s throwbacks fall into the latter category. Aren’t Michigan’s current unis enough of a throwback? The classic helmet of the Maize and Blue is totally overshadowed by the shoulder striping, and the giant “M” on the chest may have gone over well in Jim Thorpe’s day, but not now. You might as well wrap the whole thing in caution tape.
7) Mizzou’s Metallic Pro Combat
-Nike’s Pro Combat unis are usually always a talking point. Either you love ‘em, or you hate ‘em. There’s no middle ground with what Nike does with the Pro Combat unis. I admire them for continuing to push boundaries and explore the future of football unis, but disasters like what Mizzou had to wear for its rivalry game against Kansas a couple years ago should never leave the drawing board. Metallic gray/silver/whatever should never be a primary uniform color under any circumstance. To put a black “M” on that metallic helmet only exacerbates the problems. I’m a Missouri football fan, and I found these to be absolutely hideous. I spent all my time that day trying to find the stupid “M” on the helmet rather than watching the actual game. Thankfully, these eyesores were one and done.
6) Florida’s Mysterious Orange Shoulder
-But before there was pro combat, there was Nike’s awful one shoulder two-toned uniform campaign. I love Florida’s orange and blue scheme, but this makes any color combo look bad no matter how visually appealing. Nike’s sleeve/shoulder obsession was all the rage a few years ago as modeled by Chris Leak above. Just contrast the classic look of his right arm and the sleeve stripes to that gross orange-out. Thankfully, the “trend” came and went quickly before it caused too much permanent damage.
5) Virginia Tech & Boise State’s Pro Combat Acid Trip
-One more trip down Pro Combat memory lane to perhaps the ugliest game of football ever played. And no, I’m not talking about the Snow Bowl and its 45 punts or even that epic Browns/Bills clash from a couple years ago. Nike started the 2010 season with a bang, trotting out Boise State and Virginia Tech in their all new Pro Combat unis. Deciphering everything wrong with these unis would take hours, but the overall result was somewhere between a Jackson Pollock special and Tron.
4) Oklahoma State’s Silver Bullets
-I hope T. Boone Pickens asks for his money back after seeing what Oklahoma State debuted this week. The Pokes are following the trend of Oregon and going the route of 2839 possible uniform combinations to reach out to the younger generations and be “hip” and “cool.” I get it. If you don’t have an identifiable, traditional look, why not go the Oregon route and have some fun with your uniform combos? Some of them actually look pretty sweet. However, grey jerseys should never be one of those options. When seeing the jersey mismatched with Ok St’s orange and black, the choice makes even less sense.
3) Oregon’s Banana Kit
-The kings of uniform combos have so many options to choose from, that it’s tough to pick just one to place on our list. Oregon is always on the cutting edge of football unis and some times it works better than others. Credit Nike and Oregon for being trailblazers in exploring what something as simple as uniforms can do to add buzz for a school. Did anyone over the age of 14 ever expect to see neon in a national title game? While I enjoy most of Oregon’s stuff, this bright yellow banana kit with the shoulder dashes stands out as the worst of the lot from the past decade.
2) Maryland’s Monstrosity
-Maryland’s legendary unis barely miss out on our top spot, but it isn’t because of a lack of effort. Perhaps the Terps and fans of common sense everywhere should just blame the state flag, which is where Maryland draws their inspiration from with these shock and awe unis. Just because the flag has its own identity crisis and combines two coats of arms does not mean it should be transitioned to the football field. And yet, I feel some empathy for these unis because of how unmercilessly they’ve been destroyed. They are so preposterous, so exorbitant, so unthinkable, and so bizarre… they grow on you. In fact, I think I may actually like them now.
1) Wyoming’s Everything
-But our top spot goes to the Wyoming Cowboys because they look terrible without even trying. Sorry Wyoming, you’re a beautiful state, but these unis are pug fugly. Maryland’s unis are so bad they’re actually kinda awesome… like a terribly bad movie that is worth rewatching for its true entertainment value. Wyoming’s uniforms are the DVDs you just wish to burn and never see or hear from again. Brown, gold, and white is just a frighteningly bad color combination, so there’s little Wyoming can do from the outset. However, with these latest efforts, they already broke Rule No. 10 and Rule No. 9 with the same jersey/pants color combos and the random patches on their white road unis. Finally, plastering “WYO” on the front (like we don’t know who it is already from its general unseemliness) cements its place in the pantheon of bad uniformia.
Naturally, we left off tons of great candidates so tell us who we missed, who we ranked too high, and too low and comment it out!