Sure, this looks like just another plain-Jane uniform from the 1950s, but Penn's mid-50s design has some intrigue to it:
1) It marked the only time the Quakers ever wore white helmets;
2) The classic red-and-blue striped sleeves, a Penn trademark since the nineteenth century, were ditched for more pedestrian trim;
3) As had been the case for several years, no dark jersey was worn;
4) Penn's record in this short-lived design was 0-18.
It's the last point I want to discuss more. For reasons that could fill an entire book (this one is a good starting point), Penn played the likes of Army, Navy, Penn State, Notre Dame, Duke and California even as it was undergoing "de-emphasis" with the rest of the Ivy League. The '55 team went 0-9, scored 34 points all season and was shut out five times.
|Penn takes on Cornell in 1954 (top) and '55.|
Penn lost both Turkey Day tilts by a combined score of 59-13.
This is an oversimplification, of course, but I can't help but associate some short-lived uniforms with losing football:
* 1948-49 Harvard: 5-12.
* 2003-04 Dartmouth: 6-14.
* 2013-14 Columbia: 0-20.
As for Penn, the blue helmets and striped sleeves -- along with a more sane schedule -- returned in '56, and the Quakers went 4-5.
|Penn and Princeton square off in 1955.|
I love those shots of Franklin Field in the background.
The school's incredible Digital Image Collection has some awesome photos of the 1954-55 Quakers, and tons more goodies where those came from. Check them out here and here.
More Penn uniforms, old and new, red, white and blue (and gray): 2014, 2013, 1992-94, 1983-84, 1981-82, 1971-78, 1965-66, 1956-64, 1948. Rivalry Week: Cornell-Penn.