13 college football throwbacks that need to make a comeback

Coleman Bentley

If you're old enough to rent an American automobile, we have news for you: From here on in, college football is going to be mostly nostalgia—memories of crisp Autumn afternoons as a kid and fuzzy recollections of nights spent in the student section; a reminder that the players you once looked up to as adults, you now call kids. But that's OK, because nostalgia is good and fine and normal and also a perfect excuse to dive headfirst into one of college football's deepest wells of it: Throwback uniforms. From grainy '60s staples to meshy '90s swag, there's no shortage of epic oldies just waiting for their time to shine once again, so we figured we'd offer up few our favorites for consideration. As Doc Brown once said while firing up his own time machine, where we're going, we don't need roads.

Ohio State Buckeyes – 1962

Ohio State Buckeyes v UCLA Bruins

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 6: John Mummey #25 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball during an NCAA game against the UCLA Bruins on October 6, 1962 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images) (Set Number: X8760)
Hy Peskin Archive

Over the course of the past decade, Ohio State have made a tradition out of taxidermizing the Wolverines while clad in obscure, mid-20th century regalia. With the likes of 1942 and 1954 already mined for inspiration, perhaps this 1962 flashback, replete with a thick scarlet helmet stripe, is ready for its reimagining.

Michigan State Spartans – 1966

Action during Notre Dame-Mich. State foo

Action during Notre Dame-Mich. State football game which ended in a tie. (Photo by Bob Gomel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Bob Gomel

Sparty’s sartorial evolution has been a subtle one. There have been slow shifts from evergreen to Kelly green and back again and multiple experiments with serif and sans-serif fonts. One thing is certain, however: Their 1966 helmet decal remains the program’s finest fashion moment. Bring this iconic domepiece back and we’ might even forgive you for these atrocities.

Pitt – 1979

Dan Marino Handing Off the Football

Dan Marino Handing Off the Football (Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Wally McNamee

While Pitt’s navy-and-mustard look pales in comparison to the teal-and-orange Dan Marino would be donning in a few years' time, they’re still an all-time college football classic. Thankfully, after years of blue-and gold purgatory, Pitt finally got the message, reverting back to their original uniforms for the 2019 season. No word yet on whether or not those oversized helmet stickers will make their triumphant return, however.

RELATED: Louisville football's new Muhammad Ali-inspired uniforms are a knockout

Oklahoma State Cowboys – 1986

Oklahoma State Cowboys

STILLWATER, OK - 1986-88: Runningback Barry Sanders #21 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys runs the ball upfield for a gain at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma, circa 1986-88. (Photo by Oklahoma State/Collegiate Images via Getty Images)
Collegiate Images

If these pre-pumpkin spice homes were good enough for Barry Sanders, they’re certainly good enough for Mike “The Mullet” Gundy. Short of Oregon, no one has pumped out more adventurous alternates than the Cowboys in recent years, but here’s hoping they tone the down the chrome and give the college football world what it's really been waiting for this whole time.

Oregon Ducks – 1991

Oregon Ducks v UCLA Bruins

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 16: Quarterback Brett Salisbury #12 of the Oregon Ducks drops back to pass during the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on November 16, 1991 in Pasadena, California. The Bruins defeated the Ducks 16-7. (Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images)
Bernstein Associates

Speaking of Oregon, the Ducks have revived their '90s-era greens on occasion over the course of the past decade, but the whites are the real standout, allowing that awesome UO helmet and yellow pants to really steal the spotlight. Plus, on the bright side, for every throwback Oregon puts into the world, there’s one less highlighter-dipped-Mountain-Dew alternate to fry your eyeballs up like a pair of state fair Oreos.

Baylor Bears – 1992


Joe Patronite

Giant bear paws on the shoulder pads. Is that really too much to ask for, Baylor?

Virginia Cavaliers – 1993

Virginia Cavaliers v Maryland Terrapins

COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTMEBR 1: Charles Way #30 of the Virginia Cavaliers runs with the ball during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins on September 1, 1993 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton

Paradoxically enough, these grunge-era Cavs uniforms are so fresh they make Mr. Clean look like Pigpen. The eye is immediately drain to the “V” on the sleeves of the otherwise unbranded jersey, but it’s the two-tone stripe on the pure Penn State-style helmet that is the star of the show. In fact, if Virginia decided they just wanted to bring back that helmet and save funds for something nerdy like books (ew, gross), we would be totally cool with that.

Iowa Hawkeyes – 1995

Northwestern V Iowa

11 Nov 1995: Quarterback Matt Sherman passes the ball as guard Matt Purdy of the Iowa Hawkeyes provides protection during a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Dyche Stadium in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern won the game 31-20. Mandatory Credit:
Jonathan Daniel

File these painfully '90s Hawkeye specials under “so bad they’re good.” The wing motif is rough enough on its own, but the additional hawk logo plastered in no man’s land over the heart (probably not an accident knowing how serious Big Ten country takes its football) really sets this stinker over the top. That said, our imagination runs wild at the prospect of a modern update on these forgotten dodos, even if they do end flying a little too close to the sun.

Nebraska Cornhuskers – 1995

Jamel Williams

28 Oct 1995: Linebacker Jamel Williams of the Nebraska Cornhuskers looks on during a game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado. Nebraska won the game, 44-21. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn /Allsport
Jed Jacobsohn

Ignore the hype. The closest the Cornhuskers are getting to a national championship this year are a set of ’95 throwbacks, and honestly that’s OK with us, because they are quite possibly the most downright gorgeous uniform in the history of college football. From the liberal use of mesh to the bellybutton crop, there’s nothing not to love about these Gen-X icons…unless, of course, you’re a Colorado fan.

Tennessee Volunteers – 1997

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Florida Gators

USA - SEPTEMBER 20: Peyton Manning of the Tennessee Volunteers looks on against the Florida Gators on September 20, 1997. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
The Sporting News

While the Peyton Manning-era at Rocky Top might be best known for those creamsicle classics, these meshy all-whites with black-bordered numbering are in need of the most pressing reboot. Also note that little football shaped “T” emblem right at the collar. Pure class, just like ol’ number 18 (or should we say 16) himself.

RELATED: Volunteers fan seeking lady Vols companion on Craigslist proves SEC really does mean more

UCLA Bruins – 2001

Oregon v UCLA

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Running back Ed Ieremia-Stansbury #15 of the UCLA Bruins runs with the ball during the Pac-10 Conference football game on Novemver 10, 2001 against the Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Ducks defeated the Bruins 21-20. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross

The Bruin blues. The sparkling golds. The dinner party invitation font with the dark blue drop shadow. UCLA’s 2001 homes are quite literally fit for kings. This year, the school will introduce all-whites for the first time in a long time, but gaudy classics are not only deserving, but are also well within Under Armour’s infamously overblown wheelhouse. Fingers crossed for 2020.

Boise State Broncos – 2007

Boise State University Broncos Football

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 1, 2007: Ia Falo, #26 defensive back of the Boise State University Broncos football team celebrates the play against the University of Oklahoma Sooners during the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on January 1, 2007. The Broncos won 43-42. (Photo by Steve Conner/Boise State University/Getty Images)
Collegiate Images

These are not particularly great uniforms. In fact, some might say they’re downright hideous. But they are the Fiesta Bowl Statue of Motherfreakin’ Liberty uniforms, and on that merit and that merit alone deserve inclusion on this list. No single moment in modern college football history has announced the arrival of a new power program quite like this, and we can’t think of our better to pay tribute than to recommission these bad boys.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors – 2007

Football - NCAA - Boise State vs. Hawaii

University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan (15) runs the ball during an NCAA football game against the Boise State Broncos at Aloha Stadium. Hawaii defeated Boise State 39-27 to win the 2007 WAC championship. (Photo by Jordan Murph /Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)
Icon Sports Wire

Find us a more badass college football uniform than this. We'll wait. Black and dark green? Whoever thought that would work is either an idiot or a genius, but oh boy did it ever. Throw in a tribal tattoo motif on the left pant leg and skull-n-crossbones helmet decals—not to mention a bleach-blonde Colt Brennan hucking it all over the South Pacific—and you have a college uni fit for Blade himself.

Originally Appeared on Golf Digest