August 9, 2011

Uniform Bracket: WSU v. Cal

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By The Daily Axe Staff


#4 WSU attempts to hold off #5 Cal to face Stanford in the next round.

The Great Western Uniform Bracket 2011 is in full swing, and the Arizona-Colorado match-up, which started yesterday, has seen a record number of votes already. The Washington State-Cal pairing is the last of the first round, and will whittle the list of remaining schools down to 8. Thanks again for all of your support thus far, and please continue voting as the tournament goes on! Cast your votes and leave us a message on Twitter, Facebook or in our comments section to be eligible to win our prize for voters in the uniform bracket.

The Great Western Uniform Bracket’s first round concludes with Washington State and California facing off for the chance to take on the top-seeded Card in Round 2. Like Arizona State, Washington State is hot off of an off-season uniform release party and will wear drastically redone threads come the beginning of the football season. Cal, which like WSU is outfitted by Nike, enters the year with the same uniforms as 2010 but with one of the great color schemes in college sports. Can the Cougars avenge their close 2010 on-field loss to Cal with a uniform bracket victory, or will the Golden Bears force a virtual uniform Big Game with rival Stanford?

First up: #4 Washington State.

Overview: Washington State

After seasons of football futility, it was time for a branding change in Pullman. While the team will stick with their Cougar/initials logo, their football, basketball, women’s volleyball and baseball uniforms all got major facelifts from Nike in April. The new wardrobe includes three helmets, a new alternate gray jersey and more gray throughout all the Cougar uniforms. The least radical version of the home uniform features an updated, sleeker version of the red tops that WSU has worn in Pullman for years, including more stylized numbers and sleeve stripes:

WSU's new home uniform

Both at home and on the road, the Cougars can mix in one of two other helmets (both gray, although one has a red WSU logo and one has a dark gray logo) and two pairs of pants, each in a distinct shade of gray. The aforementioned alternate gray uniform will also join the mix:

3 combinations of all the new Washington State uniform components worn by WSU players (from left to right) WR Jared Karstetter, QB Jeff Tuel and S Tyree Toomer. Head coach Paul Wulff appears between Karstetter and Tuel.

Gray isn’t the easiest color to work into athletic uniforms, but the new design looks like it does a good job of incorporating gray into the updated Washington State branding. One question will be how often the team chooses to wear the gray top and gray-on-gray-helmets, which will virtually eliminate any brand recognition of the program and university among casual television viewers.

Although the 2010 uniforms weren’t half bad, the team can look pretty awful when it shies away from gray and goes for a generic red and white look. Really: it gets plenty ugly. Considering that, the new uniforms are a much needed improvement and hopefully a new start for the program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2003.

Overview: California

Is Cal Stanford’s sworn rival? Yes. Would Cal fans probably bash Stanford if this bracket were taking place on a Cal site? Almost definitely. But, taking the customary Stanford high ground, let’s say this: Cal’s uniforms are suboptimal. Despite the same colors that Michigan has used to make one of the greatest uniforms in the nation, Cal has managed a strange assortment of stripes, wooshes and what are supposed to look like the swipes made by a bear paw.

Cal's yellow jersey (Image via @dankwonjr on Flickr)

Cal running back Shane Vereen at the 2009 Cal ...

Former Cal running back Shane Vereen wears the home blue jersey. (Image via Wikipedia)

Yellow jerseys tend not to look good, especially when they’re bright yellow. And when Cal goes on the road, they occasionally pair their away white jersey with white pants, giving all the swoops of the uniform design a monochromatic canvas. The blue shirts are the best of the bunch, but still have the distracting and seemingly arbitrary things around the neckline and shoulders.

The blue-on-blue jersey and pants combination–the standard home uniform for Cal–is their best look and the best opportunity for the school to show off its colors and identity as an institution. Still, the design is cluttered with the various stripes and embellishments of the uniform and distracts from the clean block numbers and Cal’s logo, which appears prominently on the helmet and subtly just below the neckline. The color scheme and the logo itself–with the classy UC script also used by UCLA–are the strengths of Cal’s football branding and accordingly deserve higher billing in the overall uniform.

But hey, this likely isn’t the place where Cal’s uniforms are going to get a positive review anyway. It’s just too bad that the team can’t turn its current ugly into throwback awesome.


Voting in this match-up is now closed. Check back at on Thursday for results of the voting.

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The Daily Axe Staff
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  • Ocean Blue

    I will agree that Cal’s all-yellow unis are an abomination on the order of being oregunized.  That being said, the yellow shirt with blue pants is actually quite unique, and while initially somewhat jarring, soon does look pretty snazzy.

    The blue shirt-yellow pants is the best combo they have, and they really ought to use it more frequently.  But then, I’m not a fan of monocrhomatic unis.  As far as the various stripes and adornements, they are noticeable but not obnoxious, and do offer a bit of contrast, which is nice.


    • All-white and all-yellow definitely aren’t the best options, and don’t represent the school colors well, either. And, as you mentioned, Oregon-ization almost always come off as tacky, especially for a tradition-rich school like Cal.

  • Cameroncrazy312

    Those Cal throwbacks are beautiful.

    • Agreed. It’s too bad they’ve been stored away for over 3 years now.