Ranking the best and most patriotic uniforms in college football – CBS sports.com (blog)


If there’s one tradition football loves, it’s celebrating America and those who have fought to make this country great. While that in and of itself is worth celebrating, college football has taken an extra in recent years step to honor everything (and everyone) who has made sacrifices for the United States. 

With that in mind, here are some of the sharpest, most inspired alternate uniforms college football teams have worn over the years in the name of patriotism. By no means is this list complete, so feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below.

5. Northwestern‘s stars and stripes alternate: Candidly, I’m not always a big fan of incorporating the flag onto a helmet logo because it looks out of place. But, hand it to Northwestern. If you’re going to put the flag on the uni and lid, you have to commit to it. The whole helmet having the stars and stripes was a better look than expected and the accents on the sleeves complemented it well. Not the best ever, but definitely a solid effort.  

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4. Maryland‘s “Star-Spangled Banner” alternate: Bias alert! I’m a huge fan of script text on college football uniforms. Incorporate it anywhere and you have my attention. When Maryland did up their helmets and sleeves with Francis Scott Key’s poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” in script, it was a perfect look. The outline of Fort McHenry colored with the American flag is an excellent way to polish off these unique alternates. 

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3. Arizona State‘s “Salute to Service” alternate: Arizona State’s throwback uniforms against Oregon two years ago commemorated former Sun Devils player Pat Tillman, who died in the line of duty in Afghanistan. It’s rare for a program to have such a deep, personal connection to a fallen hero. All of the nameplates featured Tillman’s name in a beautiful touch. 

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2. Boston College‘s “Red Bandana” alternate: ESPN’s video short “The Man in the Red Bandana” tells the story of former Boston College lacrosse player Welles Crowther, who selflessly gave his life saving others in the 9/11 attacks. Crowther wore a red bandana to protect him during his rescue attempts. Against USC in 2014, Boston College paid tribute to Crowther with subtle, classy red bandana accents. It wasn’t flashy, but it was the right tribute.  

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1. Pretty much anything Air Force, Army and Navy have worn: I could do an entire post on alternate uniforms worn by the military academies. The bottom line is no one does patriotic alternates better, which obviously makes sense. Here are a few examples of how Air Force, Army and Navy have won the alternate uniform game. 

Air Force’s Sharktooth alternates …

Army’s division insignia helmets …

Navy’s alternate helmets … 

And, finally, these Navy alternate uniforms. Personally, these aren’t just the best alternate threads of the patriotic variety. They aren’t just the best alternates. I’m going on the record in saying these, replicating Summer Whites, are my favorite college football uniforms ever. 

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