Monday, August 8, 2016

Terrible 2s

A-Day games are a wonderful chance for fans to enjoy some Auburn football during the off-season and see football for a little while during the long wait between seasons. While the majority of fans enjoy seeing the new players wearing the Auburn orange and blue for the first time, I'm always excited to see the old uniform template back, even without the nameplates on the back. One thing I noticed last season was on RB Jovon Robinson's jersey - the #2 was different than the rest of the team. I put it off as a random mistake and never thought anything else about it.

As many of you know, I've recently started collecting old Glomeratas (the Auburn University yearbook) and game programs. As I receive new issues of the old programs, I always love to look through to see how much things have changed.  Campus changes are always the most entertaining for me, but I always try to keep an eye on the action photos and the uniforms, even if they haven't changed much over the last half-century or so.

As I flip through these programs and check out the old photos, I've come across even more instances of the wrong style #2. The mistake I put off last year has continued to pop up and has for many years in Auburn's history.

Before we jump into the numerous examples of this, I should explain what I mean by "wrong #2s." For as long as I can tell, Auburn has used the same, or a very similar, block number font. As much as the uniforms have changed over Auburn's football history, the number font has changed even less. As I make the mock-ups that you see throughout this site, I have continued to use the same typeface when placing the numbers on the Auburn jerseys. I use Conrad Burry's "NBA Chicago Bulls" font for every single number, except for the two, where I have to change over to "NBA San Antonio Spurs." Here's the difference in the two:

As you can see, the Bulls font has the down bar at an angle, whereas the Spurs #2 is a horizontal bar, which fits the bill of Auburn's football font.

Let's take a look at some examples of this mistake.

As I said before, I first noticed Robinson's jersey mistake last year. Turns out he wore the same jersey this year, with the number still wrong.

Jovon Robinson once again wore the wrong #2 on his jersey for the 2016 A-Day game. Chandler Cox (#27) is
wearing the correct style though. (photo via Inside the Auburn Tigers -
Take a look at this photo from the 1992 Iron Bowl. In the far right corner you can see a Tiger sporting the Bulls-style #2, while conversing with a teammate that is sporting the correct style.

An Auburn Tiger wears the wrong style #2 in the 1992 Iron Bowl (photo via Getty Images)
1989 featured a few instances of this phenomenon as well. The Iron Bowl, the first time played in Auburn, saw Ricky Sutton, a freshman DT at the time, committing the wrong #2 error.

The 1989 Iron Bowl saw DT Ricky Sutton wearing the wrong #2
From that photo, it's hard to tell if the front chest number also featured the mistake. I would naturally expect it to, if it weren't for this photo of RB Stacy Danley who wore the correct #2 on the chest, and the wrong style on the shoulders.

Stacy Danley runs on LSU in 1989 (photo via Getty Images)
Bob Harris, a DB in 1981.

Bob Harris, DB
One of the worst suspects of this issue was none other than star RB Joe Cribbs. Cribbs played at Auburn from 1976 to 1979, and has been caught on camera multiple times with the wrong #2. This photo from the 1979 Georgia game showcases Cribbs and fellow RB James Brooks celebrating the 33-13 victory, with both wearing the Bulls-style #2.

James Brooks and Joe Cribbs, 1979 (photo via
Auburn University Digital Library)
I found two photos that I couldn't date of Cribbs.

And finally, the infamous 1978 Georgia game that featured the orange tops once again shows Cribbs sporting the wrong font.

Joe Cribbs wearing the orange tear-away
jersey in 1978 against Georgia.
It's weird. Cribbs had the wrong number font on all four color jerseys during his time at Auburn. Not just one, like I would expect many of the other instances to be, but every single one.

It's extremely tough to say why or how this happened. Some insight to the Robinson incident last year was that the equipment staff possibly was running low on #2s, and needed to put Robinson's jersey together, so they used whatever they could find. But that doesn't explain the others. 

One theory I have is the different manufactures used. Prior to the world that we know today where schools sign exclusivity deals with apparel makers, teams would order their uniforms through many different outlets. Auburn just happened to have Russell Athletics less than an hour up the road from campus, so that was an easy choice to make. But not every player wore the Russell jerseys. Stan White wore a Wilson jersey a few times during his career (hard to tell how long though), so it's easy to think other players did as well. And when you have so many companies involved, things like this are bound to happen. 

I don't claim for this to be a full list of players that sported a wrong styled number, but if you happen to know of any other instances, please feel free to share them with me. Twitter and email are always the best way to get a hold of me.


  1. The Cribbs photos were back in the tear-away jersey days. I happened to work for the AU athletic department then and they would iron the numbers on generic blue jerseys by the dozen and keep boxes of them on the sidelines. Notice hat the stripes re also missing.

  2. It's not just the apparel manufacturers, it's the numbering manufacturers. There were two major ones in the 70's-80's, Stahls and Dalco, and neither provided a horizontal-crossbar '2' back then as a heat-applied product. Cribbs' jerseys look to my eye to be Dalco's Full Block, and Jovon Robinson's are Stahl's Pro Block. I'm not sure about this, but I am guessing Russell put the numbers on most of the jerseys at the factory, but if they needed an "in-a-pinch" replacement, they used what they had on hand- blank jerseys and heat-applied numbers.

  3. Jeff H. stole my thunder on the tear-aways. All of them had the different 2's, and they (the jerseys) were hideously ugly. Chris M. also mentioned that different manufactures had different number styles. This was evident in the '80s and '90s with Champion. Take a look at Florida's days with Champion (also the Buffalo Bills). Those numbers, particularly the 2's and the 7's were very different from other manufacturers.