The limited-scholarship Northeast Conference (NEC) doesn’t receive much respect in FCS football; its teams didn’t receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament until a few years ago, when the tourney expanded beyond 16 teams. Heck, I’m not giving it much respect; I’m lumping the three NEC teams in my uniform project into a single entry! Perhaps that should change, since Bryant - excuse me, nationally-ranked Bryant - is 2-0 against CAA teams this year, including a win over my Black Bears, and Central Connecticut State defeated Albany of the CAA this season.
When I was growing up, Smithfield, R.I.-based Bryant was best known as the home of the New England Patriots’ training camp. The Pats no longer train there, but they must have left an impression; the Bulldogs fielded their first football team in 1999 and joined Division I in 2008. The program’s all-time record is 88-61 going into this season.
Bryant’s 2013 uniforms bear a striking resemblance to Army; I dunno, but gold helmets and slate-gray pants just clash to these eyes. The all-white look is not bad, though.
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE
The pride of New Britain, Conn., Central Connecticut State first fielded a team in 1935. The Blue Devils have captured four NEC titles in the last decade, but alas, that was before the conference scored an automatic NCAA bid. Judging by the opponents in the team media guide, it looks like CCSU has played in Division I since the early 1990s (although the Devils faced Maine several times in the 1970s and even beat the Bears in 1973).
The school's most notable football alumnus might by Steve Addazio, the Boston College head coach who’s turned the Eagles around after a few dark years.
As for the uniforms … Well, at least the helmets are nice, right?
Fairfield, Conn.-based Sacred Heart University is a relative pup to college football, having first played the game in 1991. The Pioneers have had a fair amount of success that's included an undefeated season in 2001. Sacred Heart and CCSU face off every year in the “Constitution State Rivalry,” with CCSU holding a 9-7 edge in the all-time series.
This is a sharp uniform, easily the best of the three NEC teams here. It’s a typical Adidas template, but it’s a good template. That’s a pretty unique shade of red, though.
Up next … We’ll let’s reach into the grab bag and see what comes out. Ooh, I think I see an eagle feather or three ...