Published September 2, 2011 - 7:09am
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Based on a variety of factors including tradition, overall look and originality, here’s my breakdown of the SEC’s best uniforms. Of course this list is totally subjective, but I’m a uniform connoisseur and a true believer in the adage: If you look good, you’ll play good.
1. Georgia — The “silver britches” introduced by head coach Wally Butts in 1939 added flair to the Bulldogs’ red jerseys. Vince Dooley altered the uniform 25 years later to white pants but incorporated the silver pants back into the mix before UGA’s national championship season in 1980. Since joining the SEC in 1932, the Bulldogs have 12 conference championships in their traditional digs. Black tops in the Mark Richt era have been a nice touch but the black helmet and red facemask combo worn last season against Florida has to go. This classic look is also a lot better than their uniforms for tomorrow’s game against Boise.
BEST LOOK: White top with black numbers, silver pants (road)
2. Tennessee — To me, UT’s all-orange set screams Rocky Top and Neyland Stadium. From the white helmet defined by the strip and T to the funky shade of orange top and pants, you can tell when the Vols are on the field from rooms away (if you have a big enough TV). Tennessee is tied with Texas for second in all-time bowl appearances and is sixth in all-time bowl victories. The Vols have won six national titles in orange.
BEST LOOK: White helmet, orange top and pants (home alternate)
3. Florida — A darling Nike school that gets just about everything from its athletic supplier, the Gators have one of the most recognizable looks in the SEC. Sporting orange helmets with the script “Gators” logo since 1979, Florida has three national championships and eight conference titles during that span. Recently, the Gators have donned multiple pro combat styles, but none compare to tradition. Leave the orange tops in the locker room this season. And my guess is we won’t see the all-white uniforms with the white helmet again anytime soon (See loss to Alabama, 2009 SECCG)
BEST LOOK: Blue tops, white pants (home)
4. LSU — Eye of the Tiger. Painted lines at each 5-yard increment. A purple, speedy defense coming at you at 500 MPH. LSU’s home jerseys at night, the rare purple/gold combo, is one of the nation’s best. LSU’s tradition of wearing white tops at home began in 1958 when head coach Paul Dietzel decided it was necessary to do so. A national championship later that season kept the tradition alive. Under Nick Saban, the Tigers wore purple tops several times, but still prefer the white at home. I don’t. I like the purples.
BEST LOOK: Purple top, gold pants (home alternate)
5. Auburn — Navy blue and orange mesh well together and never did it look as good as it did last season during the Tigers’ 14-0 march to the BCS National Championship. The orange stripe down the pants on the road with navy splashed on the numbers and neckline gives Auburn one of the SEC’s best, yet most simple looks. The Tiger Walk combined with the War Eagle’s flight toward midfield is probably the best entrance in the SEC and with nice-looking uniforms to boot, gives Jordan-Hare Stadium a certain aura non-existent in most venues. Orange pants? A navy helmet? I’m begging Under Armour to make it happen.
BEST LOOK: Navy top, white pants (home)
6. Vanderbilt — For a Nike-sponsored school with just four wins on the gridiron the last two seasons, the Commodores have a nice array of uniform combinations. Whether it’s the all-black getup with gold helmets or the alternate gold tops with black pants, Vanderbilt looks good even if they’re not.
BEST LOOK: Gold helmet and top, white pants with stripe (home alternate)
7. Alabama — With the shoulders blank and the only markings on the jersey being stitched numbers, a Nike swoosh and SEC patch, the Crimson Tide’s uniforms are downright boring. This may be blasphemy to some, but I never have been in favor of the plain, stickered numbers on the helmets. Maybe a white “A” would look better or even a white helmet with a crimson “A”. Nonetheless, the tradition-rich Tide are doing fine in their crimson and white scheme and that won’t change anytime soon.
BEST LOOK: Crimson helmet, white jersey, white pants (road)
8. Ole Miss — Sometimes plain is good, as is the case with the Rebels. The red alternate tops aren’t a bad look and neither are the road whites with navy and red stripes on the shoulders. The all-grey look with blue helmets in hopes of upsetting top-ranked Auburn last season wasn’t a bad idea. If Houston Nutt has done one thing right thus far in Oxford, it’s keeping the uniforms the way they are. OK, he’s done a little more than that. Ole Miss did win consecutive Cotton Bowls in 2008 and 2009.
BEST LOOK: Navy tops, grey pants (home)
9. Arkansas — The Razorbacks switch to a more subtle look with various piping last season really made Arkansas shine. The current uniforms would’ve looked great on Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but looked just as good on the Razorbacks during last season’s run to a BCS game. Second to none, Arkansas has the best pants in the West, complete with “Razorbacks” in all caps down the leg and a stitched logo at the hip. The road uniforms aren’t as appealing as the homes, dominated by cardinal shoulders on white tops.
BEST LOOK: Cardinal tops, white pants (home)
10. Mississippi State — The Bulldogs have all sorts of unique combinations including multiple helmets (maroon, white) and a rare black set of uniforms they reveal every now and then. Unfortunately, maroon helmets with black tops and pants don’t mix. Maybe black should be scrapped altogether now that Dan Mullen is in charge and the Bulldogs could be an actual force, not in need of gimmicks, in the SEC West.
BEST LOOK: White helmet, maroon top and pants (home)
11. South Carolina — With its latest 2011 combinations, Under Armour has ruined the look of the Gamecocks on Saturdays. Not saying I prefer Riddell over the interlocking UA, but South Carolina’s newest athletic supplier hasn’t improved USC’s uniforms in the least. Black-outs don’t seem to work (see two crucial losses to Florida over the last decade) and garnet helmets would look a little weird with the garnet top, garnet pants look. I’m a fan of the all-white roads, but those things should have been banned after losses to Iowa (2009, Outback Bowl) and Arkansas (2009).
BEST LOOK: White helmet, garnet top, white pants (home)
12. Kentucky — Kentucky’s “Blue-Out” look isn’t bad with the sparkling helmets, but it doesn’t match Florida’s blues in The Swamp. In their royal blue jerseys, the Wildcats have appeared in five straight bowl games, a first for the program. I’m still waiting on the Wildcats to bring out the rumored all-black garb which was scheduled to debut during the 2009-10 season. Maybe it would make UK look a little more intimidating coming out of the tunnel. A matte black helmet with a white UK would be equally mean.
BEST LOOK: Head-to-toe, all-blue (home)