The best college football uniforms are, for the most part, the classics that haven't really changed in decades; Penn State, Michigan, Alabama and USC come to mind. But as technology advances, manufacturers are able to create better-performing jerseys that breathe better, stretch better and just plain-ol' look better.
That's why while complete design overhauls are few and far between, college football uniforms are constantly being tweaked and modernized, particularly when a school switches its equipment provider. Adidas has a different design style than Under Armour, and both are different from Nike, etc. This season will be UCLA's and California's first as Under Armour schools, and North Carolina is making the switch from Nike to Jordan Brand, so all three schools have new digs that are slightly different. Other schools have adopted new designs just to freshen things up, and as you'll see below, the trend has been to simplify things.
Here's a roundup of all the new uniforms that have been announced for the 2017 season.
Under Armour paid a record $280 million to become the official outfitter of UCLA athletics, so there was certainly some pressure to produce a premier football jersey. Under Armour paid homage to UCLA's classic easy-on-the-eyes blue and gold combo, which Adidas had tampered with. The new uniforms are brighter, the stripes on the shoulder pads are further from the collar and there's no crisscross pattern in the blue. It looks more like UCLA's old uniforms, and that's a good thing.
Cal is also making the switch to Under Armour, having been with Nike previously. The new uniforms are more of a classic look; the yellow collar is out while stripes are in. The four-lined stripe is apparently an ode to the famous Sather Tower—also known as The Campanile—on Cal's campus, though I don't exactly see the connection.
Continuing with the theme of simplicity (and stripes) over borderline-gimmicky designs, Utah and Under Armour did away with mountains on the shoulder in favor of the "Utah Stripe." All three uniforms—white, red and black—feature the Stripe, which is a distinct upgrade from the cartoonish mountain range.
After three-consecutive seasons with at least eight wins and a 10-win campaign in 2014, Arizona has struggled in the past two season. Last year, the Wildcats went 3-9 and just 1-8 in Pac-12 play, so now seems like a perfect time to try to inject some life into the program. Arizona and Nike teamed up to devise nine new jersey combinations, highlighted by some sweet new helmets.
After 11 consecutive years without a winning season, Mike Leach has led the Cougars back to relevance with 17 wins in the past two years. Nike gave the resurgent program's jerseys a facelift with these new uniforms, which are as clean as can be. WSU's old uniforms featured stripes on the shoulders of both the home and away jerseys, but the new guys are solid and stripe-free.
It didn't feel right that Michigan's jerseys had the Jumpman logo while UNC's did not. Now Jordan's alma mater is indeed making the in-house switch from Nike to Jordan Brand (UNC basketball has been wearing Jordan since 1998), and there isn't much change in the home and away digs besides the new logo. Jordan is producing a special navy alternate uniform, and the UNC colorway of the Nike Flyknit cleats are hot.
The Broncos' are one of college football's best non-power conference programs, and the "blue collar" motto has helped them get there. Boise State's new jerseys, their first since 2011, have "BLUE COLLAR" written on the inside collar. The other changes are minor—there's a new stripe on the shoulder and "Boise State" is written in blue instead of orange on the away uniform.
After making a significant upgrade from Russell Athletic, Western Kentucky will wear Nike starting this season. Nike has opted to keep the back-to-back Conference USA champions' metallic helmets but did away with the shoulder accents from the previous uniforms.
The Blue Raiders' uniform changes best exemplify the minimalist trend. Once a program that had dozens of uniform combinations, Middle Tennessee is opting for a simple home and away jersey repetoire. And the jerseys themselves are much simpler, as the different-color shoulders are gone and the helmets now have one stripe instead of two.
Nevada's previous uniforms were remarkably uninspiring. The Wolf Pack have a new coach this year in Jay Norvell, and they'll pair new leadership with an all-new Nike Uniform. The home jerseys are solid blue with "WOLF PACK" written in a bold white front across the front paired. The away joints are white with "NEVADA" displayed in blue on the chest. Both uniforms can be paired with either white or silver pants, and the silver ones feature the "Battle Born" motto from Nevada's state flag.