Good Saturday Morning, Uni Watchers. Glad to be back in my usual weekend spot! I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend and week.
As has been the tradition for at least the past six or so years, we kick off the NCAA Football Season with a special Saturday Morning Uni Watch, where today we bring you all the gridiron uni-action for the past week (actually two weeks, since the NCAA now insists upon having a few games from what they call “Week 0”). As always, the ever-awesome Terry Duroncelet, Jr. will be handling the SMUW main article, with Jim Vilk returning once again for his role in the “Five and One,” and Uni Trackers Rex Henry, Dennis Bolt, and Ethan Dimitroff will all be returning to their Power 5 tracking roles. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to contact Kyle Acker, who tracked the B1G, so going forward, we’ll have James Hill taking his place. Please help me welcome James to the SMUW team!
One new thing this year: in past seasons, the entire SMUW was contained in one long, morning post, but under the new Uni Watch format, this year the various segments that comprised the whole will be broken out separately, so the 5&1, Uni Tracking & Duck Tracking will all have their own posts, and each section should be posted early in the morning (so if you come to this post more than an hour after publication, all sections should be “live”).
I usually highlight one particular game in the opening spot, with TJ handling the remaining games, but for opening weekend, I defer. Today’s splash features a color-vs-color game (Oregon vs. Georgia), which I (seriously) hope people with color-blindness were able to appreciate. We all know how well a red-vs-green game worked out for the NFL for their inaugural Color Rash game, so here’s hoping UGA/UO didn’t bring more of the same.
So, I’ll now turn this over to Terry for the 11th Season of …
Sunday Morning Uni Watch
by Terry Duroncelet, Jr.
Hello, and welcome! I can’t believe it’s been 11 years already since the first SMUW post. This year looks to be really promising for multiple reasons, not the least of which is we may actually get a fully-fleshed out season with little-to-no cancellations due to COVID. Before we jump right in, there are a few of things I want to note first:
-I’m trying something a little new and listing the teams before my actual thoughts. The way it’s to be read is ‘Home/Road’ (if the game is at a neutral site, I go by either the colored uni vs white uni matchup, or regional favorites. Ex: LSU/Florida State in the Superdome, or Georgia/Oregon in Weird Rosebud Stadium (hey, if there’s any opportunity to dunk on the Falcons, I’m gonna take it. Besides, I’m still salty about the Georgia Dome being put on a shirt in 2017). Let me know if you like this format, if you’re not a fan and prefer the element of surprise, if there’s anything I could do to tweak it a bit, I’m open to suggestions.
-As is the norm around this time of year, the first week or two is going to be a bit… scuffed, kind of like players who cramp up in the ever-increasing-as-the-years-go-on-due-to-global-warming heat of the first late-August/early-September games. This means that there will (sadly) be some missed games, spell checks out the wazoo, and the occasional stride stutter as I find my footing. HOWEVER! I will do my best to give you as accurate and readable of a rundown as I possibly can!
-I briefly mentioned this last year, but as a gentle reminder: I am nonbinary, and I exclusively use They/Them pronouns (for those not familiar with pronoun etiquite, any instance where you might say “I really like his opinions on the SEC’s uniforms”, replace “his” with “their” [or “he” with “they”, “him” with “them”, etc.], so it would read “I really like their opinions on the SEC’s uniforms”). I’m sure the vast majority of you already know this, but I do like to cover my bases.
With that out of the way, we can finally get this season underway!
From Saturday, Aug. 27th
• UNC/Florida A&M: I can dig it. Ironically, the “proper” ACC matchup that we’re all thinking of (just pretend they’re wearing green pants here) wouldn’t look anywhere near as good even with the green pants, because FAMU’s helmets were putting in overtime.
• Northwestern/Nebraska: I feel like I’m watching a scrimmage of the football version of the 1990s Toronto Raptors, and I’m 100% here for it. Love the logo flag decals on NU’s helmets (another look, thanks to Blaise D’Sylva), and the new uniforms are a home run (INB4 “wrong sport!”). One last thing I want to say about this game: “Week 0” admittedly feels weird, because I feel like it’s trying to capture the casual energy of the NFL Preseason, but falls short. It almost doesn’t feel real. But for whatever reason, this game being in Dublin actually captured that vibe, while having actual stakes on the line. IDK, I could be making absolutely no sense here, but I figured I’d put it out there. Anywho, next game!
• FAU/Charlotte: Man, so many teams are bringing their A(esthetic)-game this week!
• UTEP/North Texas: Area code decal helmets for the Miners, and in a rare turn of events: they actually match on both sides! Not something you see in college football often with one-offs (just pretend that this is a one-off for Boise State). Also, the ‘LUKE’ on the back of the helmets is in honor of Luke Laufenberg, who passed away from cancer back in August of 2019.
From Thursday, Sep. 1st
• Pitt/West Virginia: If you want the Cliffnotes version of my thoughts on this game, here ya go. It’s wild to think that in the 11 years that I’ve been doing SMUW, this is only the 2nd Backyard Brawl that I’ve seen in that time (I think 4th overall, counting pre-SMUW). The game did not disappoint, and neither did the unis. Pitt looking RAD, as always, and West Virginia’s Country Roads uniforms are a hit in my books. I’d even go as far as to say that these should get a full home and alternate set and become the new full-time uniforms for the Mountaineers. And for two schools with remarkably-similar color schemes, there was no doubt in telling who’s who. A monumental visual upgrade over the last time these two played each other.
• Oklahoma State/Central Michigan: “Barry Sanders combo” for the Cowboys.
• N. Illinois/E. Illinois: Interesting “Hybrid Era” (that’s what I’m calling it) unis for Northern Illinois. I don’t know what eras they’re channeling, but I do have this Instagram vid which briefly showcases the unis.
From Friday, Sep. 2nd
• ODU/Virginia Tech: The irony of Old Dominion wearing their light blue unis is that it was Virginia Tech that was feeling blue after becoming the second Power 5 team to lose to the Monarchs (the first was… um… Virginia Tech back in 2018) since Old Dominion moved to FBS play some years back.
• Indiana/Illinois: this B1G matchup looks very SEC. Also, I’m sure most people know this already, but for the uninitiated: the ‘LEO’ on Indiana’s nose bumpers stands for “Love Each Other“. Blaise D’Sylva also notes that the Hoosiers swapped out the decals on their throwback??? helmets from a simple ‘I’ to the current ‘IU’.
• Tulane/UMass: Full-light blue togs for Tulane.
From Monday, Sep. 5th
• Georgia Tech/Clemson: I don’t remember if I mentioned this last year (time is an illusion), but Georgia Tech has a really cool captain’s patch treatment.
And with that, Weeks 0 and 1 are in the books! Honestly, this might be the best-looking opening week in recent memory. Additionally, there are undoubtedly plenty of games that I simply could not get to, but for any future games, if you have a really good lead, Twitter is the best place to reach me. As always, I gotta give a huge thanks to Blaise D’Sylva for his legendary commitment to the 2,456 helmets around the college landscape (at this point, that number might be closer to literal than we think if we’re counting everything worn between 2011-to-now). BTW, his Twitter has all of the helmets mentioned here and PLENTY more, so if you haven’t already, peep the link. It’s good to be back, and I’ll see you tomorrow. Take care, and have a happy NFL-Eve!
Thanks, TJ! Great rundown as always. See you tomorrow and looking forward to a great 2022 SMUW season!