Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Hampshire Wildcats (1976-77)

When I was in college, I acquired a Maine sports yearbook from 1978 that featured pictures from a football game against New Hampshire the previous season. I was pretty shocked to discover that the '77 Wildcats dressed almost exactly like the '97 Wildcats.

The uniform actually goes back a little bit further. In 1976, when UNH reached the NCAA D-II tournament for the second straight season, the Wildcats unveiled a classic uniform that went virtually unchanged for a quarter-century. 

The 1976 UNH Wildcats take in the action.
Most of these pictures are from the 1977 Granite yearbook.

UNH used the rather bland look of 1974-75 as a template and built upon it with red trim and names on the home jerseys, which seemed to take their cue from the 1970s Buffalo Bills. Helmet numbers were out; a classy "NH" logo was in. It was a fresh look for a team that was experiencing its first blush of success as a national powerhouse. 

Names on the back! Now you know you're in the big time.
The Wildcats tackle a BU runner.

A diamond-shaped "NH" logo went back decades (and still appears on throwback merch)  but it was a longer, almost football-shaped version that debuted on the helmets. 

In '78, a trim change was made on the home sleeves ... and that was the last significant change for a long time. There were some small alterations in name and number fonts, logo size and sock color, but that was about it. Really, only Yale and Delaware can surpass UNH for consistency. (Harvard, which has had pretty much the same look since 1994, just announced a reboot complete with black shirts and crimson pants, so the Crimson may soon fall out of the running.)

Number 36 belonged to running back Bill Burnham, who left as the school's all-time leading rusher and still ranks second today, no small feat. 

Bill Burnham rumbles past Maine in 1977.

UNH reached the NCAA D-II tournament for the second straight year, only to lose at Montana State. You can read more about that game here.

I love the backdrop to the picture of the left.
I believe that's from the NCAA D-II playoff game at Montana State.
Plenty more Wildcat uniforms: 20142010-13, 2000199819751966-67, 196519501947-48, 1938. Rivalry Week: Maine-UNH.

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