The College Football Fashion Show

By Michael Citro on July 1, 2013 at 11:30a
The least offensive OSU alternate uniforms in recent years - 2012.

In the last decade, college football uniforms have blown up.

The Oregon Ducks have turned eyesore uniforms into an art form, of course — somehow striking a chord with many high school football players. Maryland and Oklahoma State have followed suit with many different color combinations and styles.

While Oregon and Oklahoma State have seen their on-field fortunes improve over the past several seasons, the Terrapins have yet to see positive results. I’m not suggesting the Ducks and Cowboys have had increased success because of their uniforms, but for some reason the kids aren’t repulsed by some of these aesthetically offensive designs the way they should be.

Boise State is among the wave of schools that have created alternate uniforms that they break out periodically.

Many other schools have used one-off uniforms that change out every year. You have no doubt noticed this with the Pro Combat designs the Buckeyes have worn once a year. Michigan adopted a bumblebee look. Even Indiana has gotten into the act. It's crazy.

One thing most of these new uniforms have in common is that they are hideous. You may recall the Nebraska-Wisconsin abominations.

All of this uniform madness flies in the face of one of the best aspects of college football — tradition.

I’ve always loved the tradition and pageantry of college football. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely stuck in the past. For example, I’m in favor of teams like Penn State and Notre Dame putting player names on the backs of the jerseys. Call me crazy, but I like to watch televised games without team rosters in hand.

I’m interested in knowing whether the alternate uniform trend is a passing fad or if this is a permanent part of our beloved game.

Scarlet helmets eliminate the use of the term "silver bullets."The 2010 Pro Combat unis. No thanks.

Ohio State’s uniforms have been transformed slowly over the years, but the majority of the changes are subtle — a black shoulder number here, a tweak to the shoulder stripes there, etc. The Buckeyes’ look is, in my opinion, a part of their identity. I love their uniforms and don’t believe any major change benefits the team in any way. But I also recognize that might just be the old fart inside me talking and maybe modern day recruits want new and “interesting” uniforms to wear week in and week out.

Is that what our sport has become? Excessive accessorizing?

How do you feel about an Ohio State team with tens of color and style combinations that change weekly like Oregon or Maryland?

I find the idea highly unpalatable. I love the scarlet jerseys and the metallic gray helmets just as they are. Last year’s Michigan game Pro Combat unis were the least offensive ones in recent years, mainly because they didn’t deviate much from the regular weekly uniform. But some of those in recent years have just looked weird. It’s like I’m watching a different team.

If I had to rank the recent Pro Combat looks, I’d go with 2012 first, followed by 2011 and 2010. That either means they’re getting better or I’m getting more used to them, I’m not sure which. I couldn't get used to those scarlet helmets in 2010 at all.

How do you rank them? Should Ohio State keep tinkering with their traditional uniforms? Do these new looks excite you? What about recruits — do they care about tradition or are they looking for fresh new duds every week?

If any of the old styles are brought back, I'd favor the giant numbers (torso and shoulder) of the Eddie George era. Those must have been a broadcaster's dream.I know many of you have strong feelings about shoulder stripes and what colors they should be. The gray ones from the linked photo of Orlando Pace are pretty cool, I must admit.

Like most everything in life, money seems to be the driving force behind these ever-changing uniforms. You can keep your fancy clothes. I'll stick with the modern uniforms that have changed very little since 1968.


Comments Show All Comments

jthiel09's picture

I'm more of a fan of the traditional uniforms when it comes to OSU football, however I do understand the importance of maybe doing the combat jerseys once a season.
I doubt we ever get to the "Oregon" level of uniforms and hope it stays with the way it has been recently.
I would be up for the Combat uni's for a different, maybe night game during the season. I'd rather The Game be traditional.  


toad1204's picture

By chance is Johnny ranking best uniforms this week?

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

cbusbuckeye's picture

This is the new jersey on the book store website, looks to adopt the flywire type collar and looks like a deeper scarlet to me. Kept the changes suble, Not bad IMO

BED's picture

I actually liked the jersey in the '09 version.  That's all I liked of it though.  No Buckeye Leaves, no deal, Nike.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Michael Citro's picture

Yeah, no buckeye leaves is a non-starter for me. I'm not opposed to the giant buckeye leaves from back in the early 70s. I only went back three seasons but in retrospect the 2009 ones weren't as bad as 2010 or 11.

Spriggz's picture

I loved the 09 version as well. It's been my favorite Pro Combat to date.

BED's picture

Had they had a somewhat normal helmet, I'd agree.  This year was the first where I actually liked the whole uni.  Although, the black names on back was stupid and illegible.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

This is the ONLY Pro-Combat jersey I cannot find or get my hands on.  I have all the other ones that Nike sold.  I still look around on E-Bay for it...Any ideas where to purchase one?

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

SilverState's picture

Wouldn't want to go full Oregon. Oregon lite would be fine...though traditional, maybe Pro Combat for The Game.
Can tell recruits like it.  1:54 mark if didn't catch it from the Buckshot the other day.

OSUStu's picture

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

rekrul's picture

Leave the Fashion to the professionals...  I agree with the larger numbers, maybe its the vintage looks I like.

Out Work, Out Think, Out Play!!!

mh277907's picture

Call me crazy but I thought the 2009 pro combats were the best followed by 2010, 2012, and 2011 (I hated those and really was not fond of the ones this year once I saw them live). I love their uniforms now and I don't ever see a permanent major change ever happening. I like the idea of a different style once a year but I think Nike is moving in the wrong direction in Ohio State's case. Maybe they should do pro combats once every 3 years or so that way it doesn't look like they are running out of design ideas.


whobdis's picture

I'm not one of those who are up in arms everytime there is a change made..sometimes a minor stripe change can drive the fan forums for weeks. But when I'm flipping through the games on Saturdays I like to know who I'm watching the minute I see it. If it's USC/ND I'll know it right away. If I see some weird looking uniforms (orange on red for example) I keep going until I hit something else. I realize of course this is not what drives such's what the kids are going to like.

chromedomebuck's picture

2012, 2009, and 2010 and 2011 are tied for worst IMO...
Urban I'd wager is on board with a uniform change if it helps recruiting. Unfortunately seems to be the name of the game these days.
I actually think there are some combinations we could make with the past pro combats. Mainly putting some of those helmets with our current jerseys. For instance, I the all red helmet from 2010 may look good with our road white's. 
Overall, I'm in the "don't change the uniform" camp but I think it's inevitable. I'm not eager to see it but I will accept it.

Champions Bleed Scarlet & Gray

buckeyepastor's picture

I am way more a purist about the helmet than the jerseys, but I don't like seeing them tinkered with much.  Last year's for the skunkbears game was my favorite tweak, as it left things so close to the norm.  It will continue to happen as long as the apparel companies continue to make money off of them.    

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 


The Buckeye leaves can never go. I don't want scarlet helmets, either. I kinda wish we could wear our home threads every week. That's just my favorite uniform, period. I dont want to see shiny silver helmets, either.


"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

d1145fresh's picture

I love different uniforms and would like it if we were Oregon-lite with the jerseys. However, I agree with what a lot of others are posting regarding certain traditions should remain the same. Buckeye leaves on the helmets; Scarlet/Grey/White and Black as the colors; but there can be variation within those boundaries.
If you really look at Oregon's uniforms there is a base uniform then small changes that can be made (both in color and style). Obviously the colors are easy to see but the detail changes (O on their hip/change in trim color) make it a different uniform but the base style is always the same. I think OSU could do the exact same thing without killing off any traditions.

Edincostarica's picture

I do like the 2012 pro-combat uniforms with the large numbers as well as the traditional uniforms when Eddie George played.


lljjgg's picture

In NCAA 2013 my favorite combo are the 2010 solid gray pants (shown in the picture Michael featured with the article as a fashion no-no haha) with the standard OSU home jerseys. Something really appealing to me about the dark gray, one-color (with the exception of the red block O) pants.

BED's picture


The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

PryorToPosey's picture

There is just something about opening day at the Shoe on a sunny late August, early September sunny day.  Watching a team storm out of the tunnel, clad in the home scarlet jerseys and unadulterated glistening silver helmets primed and ready for the stickers and all of the accomplishments they represent.   You don't mess with perfection.  If Oregon had jersey's as awesome as ours, they wouldn't change their clothes so much.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I liked the '09, and '10 uniforms. My least favorite has to be the ones Ohio State wore against Wisconsin in 2011.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Baroclinicity's picture

Those were my favorite.  Weird.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Gametime's picture

We definitely don't need to be Oregon-esq, but a uniform refreshing is due. Something a little bit more dynamic and OSU standard-centric. I think the 2012 uniforms came the closest to capturing the best of the current and did embolden it. 
I would use those as a base, add tweaks like Walt's golden Buckeye leaves for beating Michigan. Retain the chrome helmet from the 2012 uni but keep the facemask also silver/gray OR try a scarlet mask and the traditional Buckeye helmet stickers versus the newer ones. Definitely have white/scarlet numbers and maybe gray names on the home jerseys.
I'm personally all for having gray sleeves, but I don't like the design of the old gray sleeves, the two white lines with black outline do nothing for the design nor our overall color scheme. I personally prefer the "Block O" striped sleeve we had in the 2012 uniforms, but I wouldn't mind mash up of the two, where the sleeve is gray and the stripe in the middle is the Block O (like our pants). 
Then for an alternate, we definitely should've had a Gray uniform a long time ago, but it's the era to definitely pull that out in our next trip to TSUN.
The bottom line though, is the marketing schemes and these top end kids go to camps and get the best gear that Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour have to offer. It's kind of a big deal and we need to obviously respect and keep our traditions, having clean, dynamic, fresh threads is part of what the JUICE is all about.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

VBBuckeye's picture

Thanks for posting that link to Walt's uni design. As I was reading this, I was thinking of searching for that but couldn't remember who did that "Better Dress a Buckeye" piece. I would also start with those and tweak a few things.

painterlad's picture

You know what most young football players like? Winning. Winning conference championships, bowl games and national titles. I'm not certain, but I think they also like playing in the NFL, and if they the aren't quite good enough for that, they also like knowing their diploma means something. Let the Oregons and Oklahoma States of this world try to draw kids with video game rooms and uniforms that change as easily as Facebook avatars. Ohio State will draw kids that like winning, and in the end, let's see who comes out on top.
And leave our damn uniforms alone.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

yrro's picture

So, funny thing... I didn't really care one way or the other about the "tradition" aspect of the college football pageantry...
Until I went to the 2010 Rose Bowl. And watching our band in their archaic military uniforms with every high step, bend, and bow cheered by the crowd... while theirs wandered the field in track suits... suddenly it all clicked for me. I'd been so immersed in tradition for so long that I hadn't realized what it is like to not have it. And it was a strange, empty place.
I don't mind minor improvements to the uniforms, but I am hugely against all pro-combat uniforms. I want to see helmets completely *plastered* with buckeye leaves in the Michigan game. Anything less just isn't Buckeye Football.

painterlad's picture

^^^^This X a million.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

Geraffi's picture

My favorites are 2012, 2009, 2010, and 2011 last. But, I prefer the traditional unis with only a home and away variation.  I appreciate, at least, that all of the pro combats have paid tribute to teams of the past. I think it's a nice way to incorporate tradition while still bringing in some newer designs. 
I'm thankful that TOSU wears Nike. Adidas' and Under Armor's attempts have been awful. 

BED's picture

So much this.  The whole thing.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Bugsyk's picture

I'm against something different for the sake of having something different.  If it's for better, and can be adopted, sure.  If it's a one-time gimmick to make money, no thanks. 
Ohio State has a tradition of excellence, and setting the bar.  BuckeyeNation is about unity, and too much Oregen-esque individualization fragments the pride of being a Buckeye.  The marketing 'scheme' should be to make it cool to be a Buckeye; not "I'm cool because I'm wearing a flashy Buckeye jersey."

kmp10's picture

The Buckeyes’ look is, in my opinion, a part of their identity. I love their uniforms and don’t believe any major change benefits the team in any way. But I also recognize that might just be the old fart inside me talking and maybe modern day recruits want new and “interesting” uniforms to wear week in and week out.
I could not possibly agree more with what you've said here. Ohio State's uniform is a classic... and a great looking classic to boot. OSU's uni, in my opinion, is one of college football's five best. 
As for the second part of your paragraph above... you know what recruits want, IMO? Championships. Wins. Rings. A path to the NFL. Oregon NEEDED something different to recruit good (not great, generally speaking) players to their school. The uniforms were something they could use to help get kids on campus. The Ohio State's, Alabama's, ND's, USC's and Oklahoma's of the world don't need gimmicks to attract the best players available. Small tweeks to the uniforms at these elite college football schools are all you're going to get, i.e. ND's "new" gold helmets (which I love), Oklahoma's slightly brighter/shinier crimson when Stopps arrived, Ohio State's new(ish) jersey stripe of a few years ago (almost exactly like the Earle Bruce era jersey stripe. Just the gray added to the sleeve of the away jersey is all that's truly new). I don't believe Alabama has changed their uniform much at all, if any, since I was a kid (and probably well before that) and I'm 49... and the 'Bama uni doesn't even remotely compare to the great look the Buckeyes have. Ohio State's helmets, when filled with Buckeye leaves, are the best the NCAA has to offer IMO. I would be very disappointed if Ohio State ever made whole sale changes to their football uniforms. I know many of the younger 11W'ers are pushing for a change to the one off uni OSU wore for the TTUN game last season... oh how I would hate that. Taste is personal and I'm certainly not knocking anyone's opinion on this topic, but Ohio State's uniform is ALWAYS included in random "top 20" college football uniform lists and there is a reason for that... it belongs there. 

nickma71's picture

One thing most of these new uniforms have in common is that they are hideous.

Quoted for truth.

Matta World Peace's picture

I may be in the minority about last year's pro combat jerseys, but I thought the concept art was much better than the on-field look. The black lettering, green helmet stickers, and different "finishes" of grey (pants, numbers, helmet) didn't quite flow the way I thought they would. Too bad, bc when I first saw pics I thought they were easily Nike's best effort yet...

Hovenaut's picture

Haven't minded the Pro Combat looks, last year's being the best so far imo.

I miss the numbers on the shoulders, and would like to see gray back in the shoulder stripes. I don't understand the red, white and black....looks too much like Indiana or Wisconsin.

tussey's picture

I completely agree about the shoulder stripes.

Gametime's picture

And with all due respect to the "leave the uniforms alone" crowd, The Ohio State University's football uniforms have changed 14 times since they began taking the field. To say recruits like winning is obvious as most of these kids grow up never losing, but KIDS also like LOOKING COOL.
Young men like GEAR. The best Nike gloves, cleats, visors, bicep bands, wrist bands, elite socks, arm sleeves, etc. You can almost tell some of our fans don't know what it's like to be in a MODERN locker room. Like when Under Armour came out, if you were one of the first kids to have it, it gives you an additional air of confidence on top of all you worked hard to accomplish in practice and the weight room.
There's a reason why kids want to wear Revo-Speed helmets versus the plain old Riddells or Shutts, or they want to rock the facemasks that LaDanian Tomlinson, Justin Tuck, or Ray Lewis wear. Why QBs wear two wrist bands like Peyton, or forearm bands like Romo or Big Ben. 
It's like the difference between going out in a nice suit or a button up and slacks with a fresh shave and haircut versus going out in your favorite shirt since high school and some sweatpants.
Look up the reactions of the guys on the teams when UNC, Indiana, etc. unveiled their new unis or even when OSU unveiled the 2012 Rivalry unis - players eat this stuff up and so do recruits.
Nobody is saying "ruin the uniforms" just a modest update and on a side note, nobody is saying there's anything "wrong" with the current uniforms either - but I'd wager a bunch of these guys objecting were the same ones who disliked the current change with the Block O stripe on the sleeves instead of the gray with white stripes - saying we looked too much like Wisconsin, lol.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

chromedomebuck's picture

I'm in the "leave them alone" crowd but I can't agree more with this post - I'm open to a change. And everything you said about what kids want is correct - to be good and look good doing it. 
Most of the guys wearing visors, arm sleeves, etc. have no need to - they do it because it looks cool. So "cool" jersey combos just enhances the feeling.
As for the people saying we shouldn't be Oregon-esque, I agree, but a few combos wouldn't be bad - again, this is all for RECRUITING! In all honesty, there's a couple of Oregon combos I actually like. (I know, just shoot me) 


Champions Bleed Scarlet & Gray

petebuc52's picture

Can't help but like those orgeon combos, and I'm a big fan of the buckeyes 2012 pro combats (black facemask)..

Mike Honcho's picture

I would be open to a same helmet design with stickers but in alternative colors like white or red. Same goes for the pants. Same design just alt colors. All black would be sweet but it would be align with tradition 

German Buckeye's picture

In whatever fashion, design or look, only one thing matters - the unis need to clearly indicate The Ohio State University just took the field.  If in any guise that is lost in translation, don't do it.  Period. 

collisionbend's picture


"There's a fine line between perception and reality." -- Luke Fickell


Some of the Oregon combos look like something John Deere designed. No thanks.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

pjtobin's picture

Please don't mix Jd with those crazy outfits. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

collisionbend's picture

I come from the last two years of Woody's tenure, when they had the large, gray stripes like the linked Orlando Pace uni. The numbers were huge. My first replica was a #45 (of course!), which I wore until one, sad day when it came out of the wash in pieces...
But, I digress.
They changed for the Tressel era, going to smaller numbers, a more scarlet scarlet (if that's possible - it's definitely shinier), and those damned narrow sleeve stripes - which, at the time, I thought were awful. Now, I love them and don't want them to change.

"There's a fine line between perception and reality." -- Luke Fickell

Michibuck's picture

Always liked the big numbers of the 90's, with big numbers on the shoulder pads, and the big sleeves hanging down. Ahhh yesss!

Denny's picture

Gray woolen flannel jerseys with a red windowpane pattern. You're welcome.


741's picture

I hate the giant jersey numbers of the Eddie era! Am I the only one?

WhySoSerious's picture



Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

MassiveAttack's picture

No matter what you think about the uniform changes, young people (our recruits) want fresh designs. Have you tried to buy sneakers in the last five years? It takes me the whole mall to find shoes that aren't super exciting (aka way too busy for a guy in his 40s).
The Oregon uniforms definitely stretch the idea of what's considered good taste, and unless a major apparel or shoe company sponsors your university (you know what I mean), let Oregon do their own thing.
That doesn't mean we can't update our designs every 10 years. While some Pro Combats are better than others, I'm glad we can change things up one game a year. I remember the basketball team breaking out the gray unis every now and then, but I could never find one for sale. Nice change of pace. 

The Ohio State University - "Haters love us!"

harleymanjax's picture

Bring back the big numbers! It truly set us apart, you knew INSTANTLY that was a Buckeye jersey!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

unholy bucknut's picture

Tinker with the jersey and pants isn't too bad. It gives the kids something to get up for. But i really dont want to see them mess with the helmets. Thats the most distinguishing thing of our uniform. Last years rendition of our helmet wasn't bad i just dont want to see the helmet stickers left out of the equation.

razrback16's picture

I really liked the 2012 version.