As the college football postseason rolls on, we count down the five best alternate uniforms worn from the 2016 regular season.
We’re going to call this the inaugural CI Fashie Awards, as I give you this season’s top five alternate uniforms in college football. Aside from the goal of winning games, college football has slowly turned into an arms race for uniforms: Who can design the newest, best, most creative alternate threads in the land. I credit Oregon and their partnership with Nike for this, as they were the first ones to really grab the bull by the horns and care as much about their looks as they do checkmarks in the “W” column.
We saw A LOT of really good unis this year, as well as some that crashed and burned like a guy trying to talk to a girl at a bar and asking where she lives right off the bat. There’s a fine line that, when crossed, results in a poor showing. I’m not here to talk about the bad uniforms though, so let’s get to the top five best looks of the season.
Top Five Alternate Uniforms Of 2016
5) Ohio State
This throwback was created in tribute to Chic Harley and the 1916 Buckeyes. While you may not like the looks of this one right away, when given time to steep it’ll grow on you. It shouts classic from top to bottom without letting modernization get too much in its way.
The helmet is one of the better lids we saw this year. Its grainy texture is meant to resemble cannonball dust, going all the way back to the Civil War. Someone put a lot of thought into that, and it paid off.
I’m sure Ohio State will continue its trend of unveiling a new alternate each season, but this one may be tough to beat.
4) Air Force
All you have to do is take one look at those helmets and you know why Air Force made this top five. The “Airpower”/sharktooth helmets will go down as one of the best of this decade when all is said and done. The inspiration for the helmets came from the now-popular shark design that has appeared on the nose of many military planes since World War II.
If we were doing a countdown of the top five helmets of 2016, you’d have your winner right here. But, we are looking at the uniform as a whole, and while not bad at all, I’m just not digging the jerseys so much. Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s that I’m just not crazy about the design. Whatever the reason, a better jersey could have vaulted the Falcons higher in these rankings.
Also, this is my last formal request to Air Force to get my hands on one of those sharktooth helmets so that we can prominently display it here in the Campus Insiders office.
Utah’s all-black look is the best of that variety in college football. They have their annual blackout game once a year, so we see this uni combo each season, but that doesn’t disqualify it from making these rankings.
The black helmet with the Utah “U” and Native American feathers is absolutely phenomenal. That, coupled with the red mountains on the sleeves, is an awesome tribute to the local culture, history and landscape.
When teams can come up with a uniform concept that touches on history or meaning relative to the local area, good things tend to happen. Some programs, both collegiate and professional, try too hard on this and end up hurting their uniform design. Utah got it right.
Prior to the Army-Navy game, Army unveiled these special alternates in honor of the 82nd Airborne Division from World War II. As soon as I saw them and read up on the significance of different elements of the uniform, I was hooked and knew they’d be in my final top five for the season.
Players wore different tactical symbols on their helmets that were created within the 82nd during WWII to help differentiate between units. Also on the helmets was a mesh/netting pattern meant to simulate the look of most helmets worn by soldiers during combat. This was, by far, the best detail to any uniform this season. The jerseys all featured one of four different emblems on the right chest that represented the four different regiments within the 82nd Airborne, while on the right shoulder laid a 48-star American flag.
(You can read and watch more about these here)
Much like with Army, it was love at first sight between me and these Pitt throwbacks. The helmets are simple, yet still flashy, and I love the script lettering on the sides. There are only a few schools who use the script font on their helmets, and Pitt might be the best of the bunch (though Florida may have something to say about that).
The jerseys are about as plain and simple as they come, but they are still a perfect throwback look. I’ve said it a hundred times throughout the season: teams often attempt a throwback look, but tend to modernize it way too much. Like with Ohio State’s throwback at No. 5, these use a more modern font but still hold a classic appearance. Pitt went back to their old blue and yellow/gold colors for these unis, and I wouldn’t mind if they returned to those colors permanently.
So there you have it. The top five alternate uniforms of the 2016 college football season. Good thing for the rest of college football that there are only a few military football teams or else they may dominate these rankings each and every year.