The college football uniform space can be competitive and emotional. We know that. I have come to impart some wisdom into the conversation because my opinions are--thankfully--always correct and final. Let's put an end to this.
Note: The uniform I am ranking is the one in the photo. I have no idea if it is the most recent jersey for each team. My comments and ranking relate to the uniform pictured.
Note 2: In the effort of objectivity I have chosen to abstain my Bearcats from this list. I am too biased to properly place them in a ranking and therefore will not attempt to do so. If you tweet me trying to bash me for not ranking the Bearcats, everyone will know you haven't read the parameters and you will have accomplished nothing aside from successfully outing yourself as a moron.
Let's get into it:
The contrasting colors here are fantastic. I'm a big fan of unique colors in athletics. Plenty of teams use red and blue, but maroon and gold really make each other look nice.
The compromise of a starkly minimal template and modern type works well. Like the next team on the list, it finds a way to blend classic and modern seamlessly.
I think they ruined them in 2017 by trying to do too much. The uniforms pictured above are stunningly clean. When you've got great colors and a simple logo, you don't need bells and whistles. Nobody told PJ Fleck that.
This is probably my hottest take on the list. If you've survived this opinion, you should be fine the rest of the way. UConn's appeal to me comes down to their colors. Red, white, and blue are always spiffy. The blue is perfect, the helmet stripe feels right, and the type is unmistakably UConn without being tacky--an accomplishment for a school-specific font.
The new logo isn't as classic as the old husky, but I think it's fine. It works well in the context of a modern football uniform.
It's impressive to me that the Huskies have seamlessly blended a classic template with sleek, modern branding. UConn's athletic brand is very 21st century, but the football uniform uses a decidedly 20th century template and it works flawlessly.
Lastly, somehow UConn is the team that's come closest to successfully pulling off gray uniforms. I don't know how this became a trend, but it did. I've yet to see any team in any sport pull it off, but the Huskies nearly did it.
It's all working here. Rich, head-to-toe green, a classic logo, and a perfect secondary color.
The Angry Wave is a great logo and seems to work in just about every application: White helmet, gray helmet, green helmet, matte, chrome, glossy, etc. Combine it with the stellar sky blue and you've got magic on your hands.
In the latest edition, they seem to have added a bizarre gradient effect. I don't hate it, but I don't understand it. It feels superfluous, which is not how Tulane's best uniforms feel.
The idea of mashing up elements from several historical jerseys into one singular "throwback" sounds terrible. Somehow Utah pulled it off.
Don't get me wrong; I like the uniforms. However, these are mostly on this list because of concept and execution. I would loooooove for Cincinnati football to put together one of these. I know how UC approaches throwbacks from a branding standpoint.
"What is the occasion for the throwbacks? Is it an anniversary? Is this even an era we want to recall? Can we use these for more than a year and make the investment worth it? Will this distract from our current uniforms/branding and the sales of those items?"
These are all questions UC asks and I think the Utah throwbacks are a solid case study for an intelligent retro uniform.
There are some great uniforms in the state of Ohio.
Cincinnati, Ohio State, and Ohio are all high on my list and even teams like Toledo and Bowling Green have rolled out great uniforms recently.
There's something about the OU uniforms that get me. They're super clean without a single superfluous design element. Even the logo is efficient and that traditional, arcing "OHIO" looks stellar in green on white--both on the helmet and on the hip.
Clean template; script font; high contrast; sleeve stripes.
One could argue that Florida has successfully mastered the three-color uniform better than anyone else. Sure, plenty of uniforms use three colors, but the Gators use each of them prominently. The jerseys are blue. The helmet is orange. The font, sleeve stripe, helmet stripe, face masks, and accent pieces are all white. Pouring those three into one template without everything going south (pun intended) is harder than you think it is.
06. Ohio State
Someone tell the Buckeyes to stop fussing around with silly alternates. For better or worse, the standard uniforms are classic to the point of being untouchable. They will literally never be able to change them.
Say what you want, but scarlet and gray pop. The standard block font. The instantly-recognizable black-white-scarlet stripe on the pants, sleeves, and (logo-less) helmet. The buckeye leaf stickers.
I look at these and can practically smell the autumn breeze.
Yes, the bad guys always have the best uniforms when it comes to college sports. Crimson is a great color, and it makes the white pop. Toss in the simple and iconic Script A and you have something working. The icing on the cake are the numbers on the helmets, which are just perfect.
Unmolested by time and the encroachment of big money and merchandising in college athletics, the Michigan Wolverines have something untouchable. There aren't many schools where you can sell the simple idea of being able to wear the helmet, but I'd say Michigan is one.
This fall marks the 80th anniversary of Michigan's winged helmet. As a history guy, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Like Ohio State, Michigan's uniforms have vaulted to a historical distinction and are now beyond alteration. So, what do you do when there aren't any changes you can make? Slap a Jumpman logo on it. Yes, it does make them look cooler for no reason. Sorry.
I think a weird quality of great uniforms is their ability to actually elicit a fan base. For years in the late aughts and into the early part of this decade, the Oregon Ducks had an entire bandwagon based on flashy uniforms and a fast-paced style of play.
Some of those uniforms were great, but my favorites came in the form of the throwbacks. The gorgeous interlocking UO logo and the fighting duck on the sleeve are Oregonian perfection. Who knew green and yellow looked so good?
02. Notre Dame
They're the most pretentious uniforms in college football, but they have a right to be. That hurts to say.
"Boy, those gold helmets are shiny!" Yeah buddy, that's probably the gold. Seriously, these guys are using paint that contains 23.9 karat gold flake. That's equal parts stupid and fantastic.
The tradition here is significant, and much like programs like Ohio State and Michigan, there is huge allure for recruits in the simple fact that they'd get to wear that uniform in the fall like a century of teams before them have.
That being said, Rudy is annoying.
01. Penn State
These are my favorite. Maybe I'm boring. Penn State has something simple and elegant and they know it, defending that minimalism relentlessly. There are no nameplates on the back and the Big Ten logo wasn't even added until 2013, when they also went crazy and stuck the Nittany Lion logo at the base of the collar.
Simplicity is beautiful, especially when it comes with tradition. Penn State's duds are one stop short of the best uniforms in the country, the Permian Panthers of Friday Night Lights fame.