Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Maine (2017), Penn (2017), Princeton (2017)

The look back at 2017 in uniforms continues with my Black Bears and a pair of Ivy League rivals!

Maine (4-6 overall, 3-5 CAA) gets a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) award for using just two uniforms -- the same ones the Black Bears wore last year, although I prefer the earlier helmets (The 2000-15 "Maine" script and the 2015 half-season "M" logo) to the busy current version.

OK, this has nothing to do with uniforms, but indulge me for a moment: Maine running back Josh Mack was voted a first-team FCS All-American, but after his decision to transfer to an FBS school, Maine opted not to publicize his accomplishment. Hey, I don't like his decision to transfer, either (and let's face it, any athlete at Maine these days who has a half-decent season seems to want to get out of Orono), but the decision to pretend Mack doesn't exist is beyond petty and has a whiff of Orwell's "1984" to it. Ah, the thrills of being a Maine fan ...

Can't bear to be without Black Bear uniforms? Here you go: 2016201520142011-13, 20011997-9919851976-84197519741965more 19651963-641957-591949-501939-461928-29. Rivalry week: Maine-New Hampshire. Inside the jersey: 2010-13.

Penn (6-4 overall, 4-3 Ivy League) changed its navy home jersey, with "PENN" replacing "PENNSYLVANIA" and maroon numbers replacing the white versions. Also note the "sleeves," which use the same striping pattern as Cornell's new home jerseys. These aren't bad or anything, but I prefer last year's home shirt. The road and gray alternates remain the same. 

More Penn unis: 2015-16201420131995-99, 1992-941983-841981-821979-801971-78, 19701965-661956-641954-5519481935-38. Rivalry Week: Cornell-Penn.

Princeton (5-5 overall, 2-5 Ivy League), made one small, but needed, change, as the white pants now match the orange and black versions. I give the Tigers plenty of credit for not mixing and matching the uniforms so much; I like how the orange jerseys and pants are kept together.

More unis from Old Nassau: 201620152014201319961993-95, 1994, 1987-901984-861975-771979-831970-72, 1956-571955, 1949-541947-481945-46. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Delaware (2017), Harvard (2017), Holy Cross (2017)

Time for some more of 2017 in Uniforms ...

Delaware (7-4 overall, 5-3 CAA) gets a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Award for wearing only two uniforms -- home and road -- all season. Bonus points for using the same design three straight years, a rarity in today's world. 

As an aside, I think Delaware might be the only Gridiron Garb team in the 21st century other than Yale to eschew alternate jerseys, helmets or pants. With that kick-arse helmet, why mess with a good thing?  

There's more from the Delaware hen house: 201620152011-142004-061997-20031989-921980-881975-791973-74197219651967-711950.

Harvard (5-5 overall, 3-4 Ivy League, worst record in 17 years) didn't change a thing from last year, other than the tan pants were worn with the white jerseys this year instead of the crimson shirts. I know tan's not an "official" team color, but Harvard's just not Harvard without the tan pants. And any team called the Crimson shouldn't be wearing black jerseys.

Other Harvard unis you may have missed: 201620152012-142008-111980-831975-79; 1972-7319721967-701962-631950-521948-49, 1937-46. Rivalry Week: Harvard-Yale.

Holy Cross (4-7 overall, 3-3 Patriot League) added a couple end-arounds to its uniforms this year. First, the Crusaders added a gray alternate that shouldn't have gone past the concept stage. Gray makes for an ugly jersey, and the curved, heavy-serif numbers are hard to read. A shame, because the basic home and road uniforms are virtually flawless. 

Second, Holy Cross added an "academic excellence" patch, with a little cap and tassel (see below), worn by players with a GPA of 3.0 or greater. I've never seen a sports team do something like this before. Perhaps the 'Saders should take it to another level and add a dunce-cap patch for those under academic probation (joking!)

Want more from Holy Cross? Look here: 20162015201420132004-0819921986-911981-85, 1976-801973-74197219711967-701963-651956-591951-55. Rivalry Week: Boston College-Holy Cross.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Columbia (2017), Cornell (2017), Dartmouth (2017)

Continuing our look back at the uniforms of 2017 with three Ivy League schools ...

Columbia (8-2 overall, 5-2 Ivy League, best record in 21 years). In addition to showing that coach Al Bagnoli can raise the dead, Columbia continued to phase out the black uniforms, ditching the pants entirely and wearing the jerseys but once. Now it's time to complete the process, guys and return to the classic light blue shirts!

One other note: the Bill Campbell No. 67 memorial patch from 2016 remained. 

Other Lions unis that'll make you roar: 2015-16201420132003-051996198419831978-82, 1974-761971-7319701965-67, 19611955-561952-541941-45.

Cornell (3-7 overall, 3-4 Ivy League) wore a Frankenstein uniform this year. The Big Red tweaked their helmets (again), changed their red pants and added a new red jersey that's reminiscent of the 1980s jersey. I don't care for the white "sleeves," however; they should have stuck with the red versions with the two white stripes. As we'll see later on, Penn used ht e exact same pattern on its new home jerseys. The white jerseys and pants from 2016 remained. 

Can't get enough from the Big Red? Check out these uniforms: 201620152013-141999-200119941985-8919871983-84, 1977-821967-75,  196619651961-6419521950-51, 1931-35. Rivalry week: Cornell-Penn. Inside the Jersey: 1977-79

Dartmouth (8-3 overall, 5-2 Ivy League) wore "only" six combinations after wearing nine each of the last two seasons. Best of all, the traditional white helmet-green jersey-white pants combo was worn three times after it was used only once each of the last two seasons. Also note the Big Green's sense of continuity -- the helmet and pants were same color for every game, giving each combo a clean, streamlined look. Nice touch. My suggestion for 2018: Ditch the black combo and add green helmets and pants if Dartmouth feels the need to play mix 'n match.

Some other unis from the Green Machine: 20162015201420132005-062003-041978-8619701957-611955-561951-54, 1946-4719441936-381929. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton. Inside the jersey: 1999-2002.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Brown (2017), Bryant (2017), CCSU (2017)

It's that time of the year again -- hop on the sleigh, stuff the stockings and review the uniforms for the 18 active teams in our little project. We'll go alphabetically, more or less. (Since my files list Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire as UConn, UMass and UNH, they'll have to wait a bit.) We'll also skip Boston College for now, since the Eagles still have a bowl game in a couple weeks. So without further ado ...

Brown (2-8 overall, 0-7 Ivy League) didn't change a thing from last year's uniforms, which means the ugly black alternates are still around. Repeat after me: If black is not one of your primary colors, you shouldn't use it for an alternate jersey. Which is too bad, because Brown's regular home and road unis are among the best in the Ivy League, and the helmet logo, with the ivy weaving through the "B," is among the classiest around.

The Bears also added a black "JM" patch to the jerseys this year; I'm embarrassed to admit that despite tons of searches, I have no idea of the patch's significance. Readers?

More unis from the sons of Bruno: 201620152014, 2012-132004-082001-03, 1997-20001984-891981-8319781975-771973-7419721967-711959-651957-581951-56, 1914.

Bryant (6-5, 4-2 NEC) kept its uniform from last year, but brought back the white pants last worn in 2015. With the exception of one game, the Bulldogs wore the all-white uni on the road.

I like how the basic elements of Bryant's uniform have gone mostly unchanged since the program's founding in 1999, with the exception of those gray pants the Bulldogs wore for a couple years (see links below). The plain gold helmet is just that -- plain -- but it's also the only design Bryant has ever worn in an age of nonstop change and alternate helmets, and that's reassuring.

A few more barkin' Bryant unis:  20162015201420132004-06, 1999-2000.

Central Connecticut (8-4, 6-0 NEC, NEC champs, first FCS playoff appearance in team history) switched to a white helmet from a blue helmet, which the Blue Devils had worn forever, although I kept waiting for the blues to make at lest one appearance this year. The helmets still have the logo on one side and the uniform number on the other, a disease that seems to permeate many teams that wear Nike uniforms. The white pants, which were last worn in 2015, returned and were worn exclusively with the roads. 

With only two uniform designs used all season, CCSU is the first of four teams this season to receive a "KISS" Award -- Keep It Simple, Stupid. Well done.

Some more garb from CCSU: 2016, 2015201420131968.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Maine Black Bears (2001)

It's not always easy being a Maine fan. Small budget, middle of nowhere, so-so sports teams while your chief rival (New Hampshire) sits on the sunny Seacoast, makes the football playoffs every year and kicks arse in almost every other sport it plays in (I mean, hoops and soccer now? Really?). It makes you wonder if you should be playing the other UNH (University of New Haven) instead.

I oversimplify, of course. Maine in the past has churned out nationally-renowned, history-making teams in hockey, women's hoops and baseball. Maine football is always very competitive, and occasionally, very good. And in 2001, the Black Bears were flat-out outstanding. 

Ninth-year coach Jack Cosgrove had slowly dug Maine out from revolting (a long string of 3-8 years) to respectability to reaching the top. The '01 Bears went 8-2 in the regular season (cut short to 10 games because of 9-11) and 7-2 in Atlantic 10 play to share the league title with Villanova, William & Mary and Hofstra (Hofstra?), and qualify for the NCAA I-AA (now FCS) playoffs for just  the third time in their history. Maine even beat UNH that year (57-24)!

Maine opened the playoffs at McNeese State in Lake Charles, La., where the Bears pulled off the 14-10 upset for the first postseason win in program history. A pair of third-quarter touchdowns -- a 27-yard strike from Jake Eaton to Chad Hayes and a 4-yard run by the late Royston English -- made the difference. 

The Bangor Daily News pages tell the story:
Maine wins its first playoff game in team history.
Note the honor stickers on the helmets, something
the Black Bears haven't done in years.
A week later, it was on to Northern Iowa, the school Kurt Warner made famous, and the UNI Dome. Although the teams were tied at 28 in third quarter, UNI scored four straight TDs to take a 56-28 win. Eaton, a member of the school's Hall of Fame, threw for 330 yards and three TDs in a losing cause. English, the workhorse running back who ran for 1,301 yards in the regular season and scored nine touchdowns, was out with an injured right foot.

All told, however, it was an amazing season, as Maine tied a school record for wins (9, broken just one year later), and finished 10th in The Sports Network I-AA poll, Three players -- tight end Hayes, linebacker and future San Diego Charger Stephen Cooper and safety Lennard Byrd -- were named All-Americans by various groups. Cooper was the A-10's defensive player of the year and Cosgrove was coach of the year. The achievements go on.

It may not be easy, but 2001 proved that Maine football can turn some heads, win a playoff game ... and yes, even defeat UNH. 

UMaine Hall of Fame quarterback Jake Eaton
and the 2001 home uniform, with drop-shadow numbers. 
Another shot of the home uniform, with receiver Stefan Gomes.
Note the  HY-OOGE Atlantic 10 patch; the football version of the league was a successor to
the old Yankee Conference and a predecessor to the current CAA.
Oh, you wanted to read about the uniforms? Yeah, I guess that's this blog is about. Maine was in its second year of a monochrome look with a script "Maine" on the helmet. What was new was the home jersey, with the oh-so-trendy drop-shadow numbers that aged about as well as Nickelback. The road shirts, in their final year, were first worn in 1997. The all-blue look at home has continued to this day -- a nice bit of consistency in a college football world where uniforms are dominated by anything but.

Can't bear to be without Black Bear uniforms? Here are some more: 2016201520142011-131997-9919851976-84197519741965more 19651963-641957-591949-50, 1939-461928-29. Rivalry week: Maine-New Hampshire. Inside the jersey: 2010-13.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

With the Detroit Lions reviving their Turkey Day throwbacks this season, it had me thinking what teams in our little sphere would wear if they jumped onto the throwback bandwagon. A couple caveats:

1) The selections aren't so much how I want them to look as how as I think they would want themselves to look. So thingies like number fonts and collars aren't going to look exactly the way they did in days of yore. Which means ...
2) Stuff like manufacturers' logos, league logos and other random bits (see Dartmouth) stays around. 
3) A few of these styles haven't been covered here yet, which means I have some work to do.
4) Rhody gets two concepts because, well, what the Rams lack in wins they make up for with plenty of uniforms to choose from.

Anyway, this is just a harmless trip to fantasy-land. Happy Thanksgiving!

Boston College (1940 undefeated season)

Brown (1960s)

Cornell (1939 undefeated season)

Dartmouth (1925 national championship season)

Rhode Island 1 (1984 NCAA semifinalist)

Rhode Island II (1930s)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Columbia Lions (1961)

I was saving this one in case the unthinkable had a chance to happen.

Forget the Cubs. You want to talk about lovable, long-time losers, look no further than the Columbia Lions, they of SIX winning seasons (including this year) since formal Ivy League play began in 1956. A school with such a woebegone football history, a team that finished second in the Ivy League (1996) was inducted into the school's hall of fame. A school whose own band used to play the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme when the Lions took the field.

Well, all that history is that, just history. 

As I type this, Columbia is tied with Dartmouth for second in the Ivy League standings with a 4-2 record, one game behind Yale (5-1). If the Lions defeat last-place Brown on Saturday (a gimme; Brown is uncharacteristically awful his year) and Yale loses to Harvard (another gimme; despite last year's result, Tim Murphy munches on Yale like I munch on donuts), the Columbia -- yes, Co-freakin-lumbia -- will own a share of its first Ivy crown since 1961, when Americans first soared into space and Roger Maris hit 61 outta the park. And coach Al Bagnoli, who won a zillion Ivy titles at Penn, may be up for sainthood.

Which takes us to today's post.

Under the tutelage of Aldo "Buff" Donelli (whose 30 wins is third-most in program history; he also coached some outstanding teams at Boston University), Columbia went 6-3 overall, 6-1 in the Ivies to share the title with Harvard, which the Lions defeated, 26-14, in the regular season. The one Ivy loss was to Princeton; the other two were to Lehigh and Rutgers. (I may have mentioned this before, but as a program, Rutgers then was far closer to the Yankee Conference than the Bee-One-Gee, where it plays now.) The Lions scored a league-high 30.6 points per game in Ivy games.

Columbia's own website has a fine summary of the amazing season.

When Columbia clinched the Ivy League title, the Daily Spectator
put the team picture -- and a dig at Penn -- on page one.

According to the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia (2005), the '61 team hosts a party for all returning players during homecoming weekend. Hopefully, that's still the case. The ESPN tome also declares the '61 bunch the best in school history, even better than the fabled team that won the '34 Rose Bowl (which I hope we'll get to in a couple months).

The Spec's photos that year relied more on posed than action shots.
Here's a closeup of Bill Campbell's jersey, with big, curved numbers.
He later was a member of the school's board of trustees, and after his death last year,
the Columbia jerseys added a "67" patch in his honor.

As for the uniforms ... They bear more than a passing resemblance to the first-year Houston Oilers unis: Plain Columbia blue jersey with curved numbers, only outlined in navy and with no sleeve numbers (and no white road jersey, either; the Lions wore these baby blues home and road). Columbia's numbers are noticeable fatter than Houston's. White helmets with a dark number (in the same font as the jersey numbers, a nice touch) and a light blue stripe on the pants complete the outfit. It's simple, but it works. 

And if everything falls in to place, the 2017 Lions will be holding a yearly reunion at homecoming for the next several decades.

A photo from Columbia's lone Ivy League loss, to Princeton.

Other Lions unis that'll make you roar: 2015-16201420132003-051996198419831978-82, 1974-761971-7319701965-671955-561952-54, 1941-45.

QB Thomas Vassal passed Columbia to the Ivy title, while tackle Robert Asack was named all-Ivy.
They were featured in the obscure 1961 Nu-Card football set, which focused on college stars.