Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Hampshire Wildcats (2010-13, 1998)

There are two guarantees to UNH football year in and year out: An NCAA tournament appearance and a win over arch-rival Maine for the Brice-Cowell Musket. The Wildcats have reached 10 consecutive NCAA FCS tournaments, and have defeated Maine 11 times in their last 12 outings, including a pair of wins last season. The loss of revolutionary offensive coordinator (and UNH grad) Chip Kelly to Oregon after the 2006 season didn’t slow UNH down a bit. As long as coach Sean McDonnell is around, one figures the Wildcats will always be in the NCAA title hunt.
The current stadium, Cowell Stadium - a place so hideous that the school pretty much acknowledges it openly, marketing it as “the dungeon” - is in the process of being replaced by a $25-million facility. If you’re a UNH fan, these are the good ol’ days. 
Some notes about UNH’s uniform history:
  • UNH is a fairly tradition-based team. The basic look (silver helmets, blue/silver uniforms) has been around since 2003. The uniform was virtually unchanged from 1976-99, when red trim was used.
  • Silver was originally used in 1950s and ’60s.
  • Nike has made the home jerseys since 2001, when UNH overhauled its football uniforms following a rebranding the year before. In 2000, UNH’s helmets sported the new logo, but the older jerseys with red trim hung around for another year.
  • Oddity: For several years, UNH had two different jersey manufacturers. In the late ’90s, Wilson made the home shirts and Russell handled the roads. From 2001-06, Nike made the homes and Wilson did the roads. This may go back even further, as the “classic” 80s jerseys had those Champion-style numbers (slanted 2s, curved 7s) at home, but the roads used smaller, blockier numbers.
Slooooowly but surely, UNH is adding yearbooks to its digital archives: Check out "The Granite" here. It's amazing how little Cowell Stadium has changed over the decades.


The 2013 uniform (see above) had a nice, clean look. Note: Some, but not all, jerseys had the “straight” 2s; others had the “slanted” 2s (see illustration). Some, but not all, jerseys had the “Packer”-style 5’s; other had “straight-across” 5s. I chose the “Packer” 5s because, well, I think they rock. UNH used this look from 2009-13 (home) and 2010-13 (road). The Wildcats have unveiled new uniforms for 2014. I’ll try to get them on here once they hit the field for an actual game.


The “classic” UNH uniform takes us to 1998, when Jerry Azumah ran his way to the Walter Payton Award as the best player in Division I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision) and went on to a Pro Bowl career with the Chicago Bears.
As noted above, UNH had this basic look from 1976-99, with only a few tweaks along the way — a run of longevity matched by only Yale and Delaware in this project. The ’90s are a bit of a minefield, in regards to the location of manufacturers’ logos and the name and number fonts. UNH appears to have mostly worn a serif font for the names in ’98; it wouldn’t shock me if the Wildcats wore sans-serif names that year, too. We’ll look at other variations of this classic design as we go along.
Up next: The Rhode Island Rams.

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