White is black. Green is gold. And everything is sort of dingy. Army, Navy, LSU, Michigan State, Ohio State and Stanford have all received wardrobe revamps, which we’re apparently still supposed to call a “system of dress.” Right. (Observe with closeness all the various and sundry ways in which these six lucky teams will be able to draw all sorts of new personal fouls thanks to Nike’s bottomless well of glove creativity.) It can only be the latest round of Pro Combat college football getups, the high- and lowlights of which are chronicled below.
• You can’t spell “Lisa Frank uniforms” without “LSU.” “Old Gold,” an official LSU school color (shared with Week 3 opponent West Virginia), isn’t a hue that’s seen a lot of play recently in the Bayou Bengals’ richly-hued yet glaring yellow pants and helmets. But it’s making a comeback here as an accent color, and everything about this collection seems largely unremarkable. That is, until you come to the players’ hands, and OMG THE GLOVES. BEHOLD THESE GLOVES. Lisa Frank’s not dead; she’s frozen in time, and has just been unfrozen for this very special mission. I cannot overstate my love for these things. They are so, so very LSU, in the very best of ways, and will be worth every unsportsmanlike penalty they draw, and they will draw many.
• The service academies shine. Army and Navy are putting the “Pro” in Pro Combat. There are uncountable little touches in these uniforms, and just about all of them are great ones. The Navy helmet and Army shoulder crest, grand yet unfussy. Navy’s stroke-of-genius undershirt, and Army’s boot-inspired cleats. And yes, the irony of this is not escaping us.
• A brush with unremarkability for the smart kids. Stanford skates by with a collection that’s entirely inoffensive, which is an achievement in and of itself when dealing with Nike.
• How not to be seen. The themed camo will be handy for disguising leaps into adoring throngs of Ohio State fans, but we’ve already seen this helmet on Georgia, and it didn’t look good on them, either.
• One idea that needs to be pitched down a well. The ancient Greek is a clever touch. The pleathery accents, Michigan State, not so much.
• No love for sunshine. Now for the one major quibble with every non-service academy’s uniform on this list: Is Nike now just cribbing off their West Virginia design that purported to make the players look like they were all coated in coal dust? Is Boise State the only team to reflect bright college days in its sartorial tastes? (Is Nike covertly shilling for poll votes for the Broncos by making them look shinier than everybody else? Talk radio hosts, you have your marching orders for the afternoon.) And talk all you want of technology, but where are the uniforms that light up? (This is college football’s answer to “I WANT MY FLYING CAR!”)