Akshay eye for the uniform guy 2018 season recap – from the rumble seat

In a time-honored (but slightly belated) annual tradition, let’s count down my favorite uniforms from the 2018 season. I picked these from previous columns and while I ignored the grades on most of them (since this is a list of my favorites, not the best uniforms ), they tended to be rated A or A+. Without further ado, the list (presented with my comments from previous columns):

Whoever re-did Cal’s uniforms when they moved to Under Armour a few years ago — thank you. Cal’s uniforms under Nike were…. a mixed bag. But now, everything in this jersey screams Cal: the “fault line” pattern on the shoulders and pants; the deep ocean-like shade of navy; the sans serif numerals that look historic, yet modern; that bright sunny California gold — everything just comes together so well.

So when Oklahoma State announced they were wearing these bad boys earlier this week – naturally I drooled. This combination is very, very, very sharp. Everything from the tri-stripe on the shoulder to the old “OSU” logo on the helmet to the classic block numerals just works. White pants contrast nicely with the bright orange of the jersey, and a pants stripe that’s the reverse of the shoulder stripe creates a symmetry that pulls the whole ensemble together nicely.

But in the few months that I’ve been producing #AkshayEye, I have specifically avoided reviewing the uniform combinations of one team: our very own Georgia Tech. Like I touched on in August, the switch to the #ThreeStripeLife from the dreaded R of Russell Athletic was a much needed boost and a very welcome change for the Yellow Jackets. I’ve already talked about our two standard combinations, but for much of the season, Tech mixed and matched components from these along with our third navy kit. Here’s how the season shook out uniform-wise:

Yes, we got murdered in these. Yes, the navy jersey already existed and the whole combination is a bit contrived. Parts of the general CFB public seem indifferent to radically different uniforms and their proliferation as part of the arms race in modern college football, maintaining that the only reason for the uptick in interest is solely to curry the favor of fickle and vain high school recruits (heck, I joked about that above). And for the most part, that opinion makes sense — new jerseys exist as a bargaining chip to woo recruits and make them feel and look “cool”.

But there’s another side of the story as well: when designers reach back into history to build jersey components, it almost always is a hit. These kinds of jersey designs both take advantage of and build nostalgia in a fanbase: older fans may remember when the team played in these jerseys during their college days, while younger fans and students get to see a new jersey combination and learn about the history of their team. I wasn’t alive for the early-90s glory days of the gold/navy/white uniforms, but after having watched these in action, I feel connected to that era of GT football history.

This fall was my final football season as a student. While it didn’t end the way a lot of us had hoped (like seriously, holy [Stevie Nicks] was I wrong), it was a lot of fun (despite all of the frustration, especially early on) and these uniforms will make up the majority of what I remember from this season. 30 or 40 years from now, when I think about my Georgia Tech football experience as a student, I’m going to reminisce on the Miracle on Techwood Drive, the legacy of Paul Johnson and his quirky offense, and the two bowl games I got to see — but most of all, I’m going to remember the excitement we had for switching to adidas and getting brand-new uniforms. I’m going to remember going into each week wondering what combination we were going to wear next and being excited to be rid of that dreaded R. I’m going to remember watching the spectacular things we did in these jerseys: fighting our way back from 1-3 to make it to a bowl game, beating UVA in overtime, crushing VT in Blacksburg (again), and (finally) getting past Mark Richt and Miami. The 2018 season will be forever defined in my mind as the season of Adidas. I think that’s the oft-forgotten part about uniforms — the visual ties they create between student/fan and program, both during and after they’re worn.