Monday, August 18, 2014

Delaware Blue Hens (2013, 1967-71)

And we delve into the first of our “other places,” with a longtime CAA/Atlantic 10/Yankee Conference member that played some league teams (Maine, UNH, UMass) semi-regularly prior to its 1985 entry into the good ol’ YC. 
Delaware has one of the more enviable histories of anyone in this project: The Blue Hens are (usually) in contention for an FCS title, and claim six national titles. They play in front of 18,000-plus fans week in and week out, which places them ahead of some FBS teams (*COUGH*UMass*COUGH*). And Delaware's the alma mater of a pair of Super Bowl QBs, Rich Gannon and Joe Flacco. Recent seasons have not been as kind, but you figure Delaware will bounce back sooner rather than later.
Some notes about Delaware’s unis:
  • Delaware is easily the most tradition-minded team in the project, which is saying something, considering it’s in the company of Yale and Harvard. It’s not surprising for a team that ran the wing-T - and ran it well - years after it went out of style. Michigan-style helmets, blue jerseys and gold/yellow pants have been part of the package since 1951, when coach Dave Nelson brought the design over from Maine, his previous outpost. 
  • The uniforms have been more experimental (curved numbers, funky stripes) over the last decade, but the basic look remains.
  • Oddity (I): The helmets used a small old-English “D” in 1965, only to go with the winged look.
  • Oddity (II): Delaware opted not to use a college football centennial decal on the helmets in 1969, as other teams did. Instead, the Hens placed a patch on the jersey shoulders.  
The Blue Hens' yearbook, called (of course) the Blue Hen, can be found here.
Delaware’s recent uniforms (shown above) have been made by Under Armour. The colors are noticeably lighter than in the past. The six small stars on the back of the shirts are for each of Delaware’s national championships (1946, ’63, ’71,’72, ’79, 2003). The first four were via wire polls; ’79 was a D-II title and 2003 was a I-AA (FCS) crown.

For the “classic” look, we go way back to the late 60s-early 70s, including the aforementioned “100” shoulder patch. The uniform changes from the 1950s-80s were very incremental: A stripe here, a sock there. It takes an eagle eye to notice the changes.
Also, check out the stenciled “Ds” on the socks. The were a staple from the late 1950s until about 1972. Maine wore an “M” on the socks in the 1950s and UConn had something similar in the early ’60s.

Up next, we take a look at the FBS big boys, starting with the BC Eagles!

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