Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ranking the B1G

Today I wrap up the Power 5 conference uniform rankings. There's a chance I may continue and go through some of the smaller conferences, but let's concentrate today on the Big 10. The Big 10 is one of the most historic conferences, as far as football powerhouses and traditional uniforms go.

As always, this list's criteria will consist of everything regarding the football team's aesthetics over the past few years, including special alternates, manufacturer's templates, and more. And again, this list, as well as all the other ones, is my personal opinion about the uniforms. Don't get your feelings hurt because I have one team above your favorite team or think my list is completely wrong. I'm all for healthy conversation regarding these lists, so please, leave a comment below with your own rankings.

[UPDATE 11:55: Added the two new Big 10 teams I over looked when first writing this piece.]
  1. Michigan State - Michigan State has had such a clean look for a good while now. At first I thought the custom number font was a bit annoying and gimmicky, but it's grown on me and I think it fits very well. Even though the shoulder yoke was removed from the green jerseys, and will be removed from the white tops this year, I think they both look good either way. As far as they alternates go, I'm not a fan of many Nike ProCombats, but I didn't think MSU's was awful. The Spartans did wear a chrome lid last year, and as bright as it was, it wasn't too terrible. I just don't think the green matched very well. If they could fix that it would be much better. 

  2. Penn State - I know many people will call Penn State's uniforms plain and boring, but I actually like them. The shade of blue and white go together pretty well, and always looks cool with the "snow covered" stadium. I've liked the subtle changes that have been made over the past year or so. I wouldn't mind seeing the helmets don the uni numbers permanently, or even the great lion head logo that would fit perfectly.
  3. Northwestern - When UnderArmour originally unvealed the return of the Northwestern stripes to Northwestern's uniforms, I was pretty skeptical how they would look on the chest. But thankfully they looked pretty good on the field. Unfortunately, the home purple tops have a black stripe, which blends in too much to make a difference. The white jerseys paired with the white pants look real nice. That look with the white helmet? That's a winner. They just need someone in the front office to learn how to tell UnderAmour "no" for these things.
  4. Michigan - Michigan is the pure example of a team with a very classic look, but also dwelling into the alternate uniforms realm. I've always liked the winged helmet and thought the blue tops with yellow pants was a wonderful look. I think the simple white jersey could use some work though. And I actually enjoyed some of the alternates that they broke out. Although some weren't as good. I wouldn't mind if they went to this one full time actually (except without the M front and center). 
  5. Ohio State - If you know me, you know I like stripes. And thankfully, THE Ohio State wears stripes. Sadly though, the pride stickers on the helmet ruin the stripes. I already think pride stickers are 30 years past their time, and pretty useless nowadays. So a team that wears a helmet that basically changes design through the season bugs me. Even more sadly, Nike's alternate uniforms for the Buckeyes have not been very good. I do think the Rivalry Uniform with the chrome helmet consisting of larger stripes is a much better design that could work very well if used on a normal basis.
  6. Minnesota - I liked what Nike did to the Golden Gophers a year or two ago, making their look so nice and clean. I've never been a fan of the whole matte lid craze, but think Minnesota does it very well. And their white helmet is a thing of beauty.
  7. Illinois - Illinois is one of those teams that just hasn't had a great look over the years. They've suffered majorly from Nike's piping era. For the 2014 season, Nike gave the entire athletic department an overhaul. Although the football uniforms aren't the greatest, they're much better than what they've had for a long time. I know many people didn't like the sublimated vertical striping, reminiscent of uniforms of many teams that played in the early 1910s, but I actually like that aspect. The Illini also have three new helmets. I think the striping could be better, and the block I doesn't work perfectly here, but I think these helmets will work nicely.
  8. Wisconsin - Yea, I know Wisconsin on Nebraska look exactly the same. But the Badgers get the nod because of their stylized W logo on the helmet. Although I hated the rivalry game uniforms they wore a few years ago, I loved what they did for the Rose Bowl. This year, they have another new red helmet and I'm curious to see how they use it.
  9. Nebraska - Wisconsin got the nod over Nebraska due to the stylized W helmet versus the simple N helmet, but that's not all. Nebraska lost the spot because of all the stupid alternates from adidas. The first one from the rivalry game versus Wisconsin wasn't too bad (it was actually the better of the two in my opinion). The all black uniforms wouldn't have been so bad last year if it weren't for the awful stencil font and red and black facemask. And of course the tire tread template...This year's alternates? I'd prefer not to talk about those abominations.
  10. Maryland - One of the two new Big 10 teams, Maryland has been considered the Oregon of the East. For what Oregon is to Nike, Maryland is to UnderArmour. When Maryland and UnderArmour released their first outlandish uniforms, people went nuts. But I've really liked some of the things that they've done with the Maryland flag and these uniforms as of late. I loved the hand painted helmets from last year. Hopefully they continue to make these uniforms even better and stay away from the clown suits.
  11. Iowa - You'd think in today's world of new uniforms, a college team wouldn't be caught dead copying a pro team as much as Iowa does the Steelers. If you look at the Hawkeyes from behind you have no way to tell it's not the Steelers without looking at the opponent! It would be great to see Iowa get their own uniforms one day. 
  12. Rutgers - Rutgers is the second of the two new Big 10 teams, and wouldn't it be nice if Nike gave them some new uniforms prior to the beginning of the season. Because about two years ago, Nike didn't do very well with the new uniforms for Rutgers. These are simply templatic and paint by numbers. These are uninspired uniforms that look exactly like UCF. The helmets on the other hand were pretty cool. Yet very gimmicky. The battered armour detail for the helmets is neat, but odd. 
  13. Purdue - Purdue is a team that I've always liked, even though they've not been very good recently. But for whatever reason their uniforms have always looked bland and uninspired. I know people would prefer Purdue's look over Penn State's, but Purdue's leaves me wanting so much more. Last year they tried incorporating the train motif with a railroad designed helmet stripe, but it looked pretty forced. It would be nice to see Purdue start to play good football as well as look good on the field. Until then, they'll always be a bottom dweller in the Big 10.
  14. Indiana - The Indiana Hoosiers could very well be a mid-level team uni-wise, with their looking so similar to Wisconsin and Nebraska. They dropped all the way to the bottom last year when they revealed some new helmets that are, well, comical. I mean, really, look at these things. Oh, here's a view of the candy cane chrome helmet on the field. Nevermind, that's really bad...
That'll wrap up the Big 10 as well as the Power 5 conferences. Like I said at the beginning, there may be another installment or two of this series looking into some of the other conferences. But there also may be a conference-by-conference ranking of the team stadiums, done by a good friend of mine. So look out for that as well.

Be sure to leave a comment down below with your ranking of the teams above.

War Eagle!


  1. You do realize Maryland and Rutgers are in the Big 10 now right? Why am I reading this?

    1. I forgot about them. It'll be updated, no worries.

  2. Iowa fan here - we didn't steal Pittsburg's uniforms. There is actually a good story from that. Back in the 1970s Iowa was dreadful and the Steelers were in the middle of their dynasty. The new Iowa coach wanted to look like winners so he reached out to the Steeler organization to see if Iowa could imitate some parts of the uniform. The Rooney family and coach Chuck Noll were class acts and sent sets of home and road jersey, pants and a helmet and said Iowa could duplicate the entire uniform. Iowa has worn the design ever since since it looks timeless and to honor the kindness the Steelers bestowed.

    1. Thank you for that history lesson Josh. I never knew that. I always love hearing stories like this, especially when it relates to a team's uniforms.

  3. Love your analysis. Teams tend to forget to avoid mono chromatic colors white works well to provide needed contrast. IU UW & Nebraska look awful wearing all Red. RU did not get the memo at least they have the chrome helmets and all black beats all red any day. PSU is boring but also cool, the all white unis rock. Black and gold work PU and Iowa just need to rework using both colors. Agree purple too close to black NU needs to focus on the white - purple contrast. The maize offset in U of M unis works very well. Too bad Minn could not change from gold to yellow as an offset.