In the immortal words of Deion Primetime Sanders, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”
Uniforms have evolved so much in college football. Even ten years ago schools had a home and away jersey, and sometimes had the same color pants with the two jerseys. But Oregon started a trend and now most teams across the country will have at least two or three different helmets alone, and a different jersey/pant combo for every game. There are the traditional holdouts like LSU, USC, Penn State, and Alabama, but even the most traditional schools across the country like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Michigan are at least getting a third uniform combo. At the center of it all, like EVERYTHING in college football, is recruiting.
So lets take a look at who’s doing the best in the ACC as far as uniforms go. Just for clarification this is a final, unbiased and definite ranking, but feel free to comment with what teams you think have the best uniforms.
1A: North Carolina
Right off the bat I couldn’t decide between Florida State and UNC, but I think those schools have the best uniforms in all of football. The argyle collar and line down the pants are what puts Carolina over the top. They mix in the perfect amount of navy blue with the Carolina blue and white in the jerseys, and the flexibility to have white or blue helmets, with alternating face masks give Carolina options every Saturday.
1B: Florida State
Again, really a tie for first with Carolina. Florida State is one of the traditional schools that has opted for a third uniform — theirs is the all-black combo they had against Virginia Tech. But the classic garnet and gold is one of the most unique in the country. After winning the national championship, Nike got them a new shoulder/collar design that I initially didn’t like, but over time it’s grown on me and FSU has the perfect mix of traditional uniforms with enough modern design for recruits.
3: Clemson Tigers
Clemson gets the last podium spot with their “less is more” approach. The tiger paw on their helmets, jerseys, and pants can only be described as clean. Bonus points are awarded for using as little purple as possible, while still blending it into the uniform, (they use even less purple than UNC uses Carolina Blue.) The only aspect holding them back from a perfect score is the numbers and paw on the shoulder. If they removed the number and moved the paw from the top to the side they might be ranked at 1C instead of 3rd.
4: Virginia Cavaliers
We’ve mostly likely arrived at the point where the controversy is going to start. We’re into the second tier of unis, and UVA gets the tiebreaker for 4th due to their grey face masks. They give the white helmets and old-school, hard-nosed look. I don’t love the shoulder stripes, (they’re a little plain) but they took a risk with not having an outline on their numbers and I think it paid off. Similar to FSU, they pulled off a traditional look with modern design that you need in recruiting.
5. Louisville Cardinals
There are a lot of minor details that I don’t like about the Cardinal’s uniforms, but despite those “flaws” I come away from every Louisville game thinking how cool the uniforms are. Louisville doesn’t have the traditional unis like some programs, allowing them to take a lot of creative risks, which leads to a lot going on. I like their shoulder design better than last year’s wing-looking design. The L on the pants is about eighteen font sizes too big. But the Cardinal’s probably put the most creativity into their uniforms in the conference, and for the most part it pays off.
6: Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies came out against Florida State with a matte finish to their classic Chicago Maroon helmets and my heart skipped a beat. Virginia Tech had experimented with different color uniforms, including all black and all white combinations last season, but had never varied from the actual uniform structure much. They introduced the word TECH on their right hip in Burnt Orange, which matches really well with the Chicago maroon Nike logo. I still don’t love the shoulder design, which is the only thing keeping them out of the top 5.
7: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech was the only Power 5 team wearing Russell Athletic jerseys, so the Yellow Jackets get points simply for bumping up to a major apparel sponsorship (they signed with Adidas.) One thing original that Georgia Tech did this season was come out with two different white uniforms; one with gold numbers/blue outline, and one with blue numbers/gold outline. They rolled out a couple different helmet options as well. I don’t love the shoulder/pant stripe, but it’s designed to resemble a hornet stinger, so points for incorporating their mascot into their uni concept.
8: Duke Blue Devils
Duke lands right in the middle because there isn’t anything blatantly wrong with their uniforms, (we’re getting close to the bad ones), but there’s nothing that stands out about them either. I’m a fan of the simple two stripe look on the shoulders and down the pant line, reminds me almost exactly of Ole Miss’s uniform combo. The shoulder stripes are a little too long for my taste. I prefer the “D” logo to the cursive Duke on the helmet.
9: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake would be in the top five if it weren’t for the weird shoulder design they have going on (seriously what is that supposed to be?) Other than that though I love the uniforms in Winston-Salem. The matte black with the gold letters looks crisp, especially with the black face masks. Their all black unis are their best look. Again, if it wasn’t for who knows what on the shoulder Wake would be in the top 5.
10A: Boston College Eagles
We have another tie on our hands, BC gets the 10A slot because I like their colors better than their 10B counterpart. Best part of their uniform is the logo less helmet with the single maroon stripe. Their pants are plain gold, following Clemson’s “less is more” approach. But they get away from it on the jerseys, adding a couple unnecessary shoulder stripes, and you’ve probably noticed a theme that different colored shoulders from the rest of the jersey are a no-no. If you haven’t noticed that trend you’re about to.
10B: Pitt Panthers
Pitt barely made the 10B slot, and that’s just because their royal blue throwback jerseys are really cool. But their regular uniforms seem like they were thrown together at the last minute. Their gold helmets don’t even match their gold pants. The font they use for their numbers looks funky. They’re trying to hard on the shoulder sleeves. But other than that, not to shabby.
12: Syracuse Orange
Syracuse is a bad shoulder pattern and another weird number font away from being really high. They’re another school with a few different helmets, which allows for a completely different uni combo almost every game. The gradient blue to orange design that they have on the numbers and the pant stripe looks fantastic, it just doesn’t need to be on the shoulders.
13: NC State Wolfpack
Last years uniforms would have landed NC State somewhere in the middle of the pack... (get it?) There’s just so much going on with this season’s uni’s that no me gusta. Adidas was trying a little to hard with this uniform concept (you’re gonna think I just copy and pasted that on #14 by the way.) The “Wolfpack” down the pant doesn’t look good, and either a simple three stripe pattern or nothing at all would have looked a lot cleaner. They have some good ideas, and their helmet concepts I really like. But there’s too much that’s too all over the place to be considered higher on the list.
14: Miami Hurricanes
The U is not back folks. Last year they had a really unique uniform concept, but they decided to go away from that for some reason with a plainer look that, again, is trying to do to much, and not doing anything well at all. The color used on the numbers and pant stripe is like a Miami Dolphins turquoise that is close enough to give the appearance of matching, but off enough to look like somebody just wasn’t paying attention. Miami has one of the most recognizable helmets in the country, but the rest of the uniform seems to be in a rebuilding year.