Throughout my lifetime, the Oregon football teams have boasted the most decorative and unique uniforms in all of college football. Since the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, is a former student and track athlete of the University of Oregon, he has used his company to have all of Oregon athletics outfitted in the most colorful, diverse and cutting-edge gear in the entire country. I’ve seen the Ducks dressed in all white, all black, and in every possible shade of green imaginable. Nowadays, teams of all caliber have multiple sets of colorful duds to rock each Saturday. However, for a stretch during the tenure of coach Chip Kelly, the Ducks were in a class of their own because not only were their uniforms amazing, but they played a brand of football that was just as amazing and exciting.
Chip Kelly, from his hiring in 2009 through his last season with the Ducks in 2012, tore through the college football world. During his tenure, the quack attack won forty-six games in four seasons picking up three conference championships, a rose bowl victory, and a trip to the national championship. Kelly’s high-flying offense had the entire country considering Oregon with even the most storied programs in the history of college football. People from all across America began tuning into what was widely considered the most exciting show in all of college football.
These teams, led by the likes of Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and the eventual 2014 Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota, always had an added element of excitement and surprise found nowhere else in college football. Combined with the team’s giant point totals and big plays, you never knew in what uniform combination they would do it all in. Some of the all-time Oregon classics include the 2011 national championship uniforms where carbon fiber helmets were paired with white jerseys and beautiful electric yellow accents throughout. Another time that the Ducks turned heads was in the 2012 Rose Bowl where they were the first team to wear totally hydro chrome helmets. Overall, the team’s flare was revolutionary and a total departure from what the classic good college football team was considered to be.
The prototype for uniform greatness in the history of college football has always been rooted in the ideas of tradition and the “less is more” theory. Looking at a majority of the storied program in CFB, they often only alternate jersey color depending on if they’re home or away. Some examples of this include the Alabama Crimson Tide, Penn State Nittany Lions, and USC Trojans. However, the Ducks during the Chip Kelly era began to redefine what great uniforms meant. Their uniform creativity sent a ripple through the league and now many relevant teams have begun to experiment beyond the president set by the age-old powerhouses. The new generation of great uniforms include teams like the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Virginia Tech Hokies and even the storied program at Ohio state which is beginning to depart from their classic designs.
Unfortunately, the golden years of Chip Kelly are now done and the Ducks need to redefine who they are under yet another regime. Since he left the Ducks, they have been through two coaches and are currently looking for number three. They have quietly fizzled out of any national contention discussion and many are now beginning to wonder if their arsenal of gear is becoming a gimmick. With the return of their star quarterback, Justin Herbert, the ducks are still perceived to be somewhat relevant for the upcoming 2017-2018 season. However, regardless of how the future shakes out for the team, I know that many will look back fondly to the Oregon football teams that dazzled the entire college football world.