The best look of 2011 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
House of Sparky concludes its Year in Review series with a superficial yet popular category--Uniform of the Year.
Far and away the most anticipated aspect of the offseason was the rebranding of the entire athletic department, with the new football uniforms being the main event. Given Nike's mixed reputation for uniform design, there was some worry that the Sun Devils would take on a hideous look like their conference rivals at Oregon.
However, those worries were quickly dashed once the designs were revealed. Nike went with a simple yet modern look for the jerseys and pants, and the new pitchfork logo on the helmets that replaced Sparky was sharp, if mildly controversial.
In total, there were four different helmet and pant designs and three distinct jerseys. With only Week 2's "Blackout" against Missouri pre-announced, a new gameday tradition of guessing which combination the team would roll out had begun.
In all, the Sun Devils wore a new combination for each of the first nine games, then donned repeats for the final four in what was somewhat of a disappointment.
Nevertheless, the new looks were generally a success, but there was one combination that stood out enough to earn the nod from House of Sparky as the season's best look...
But first, a quick review of the others.
The Devils opened up with a classic home color scheme of gold helmets, maroon jerseys and gold pants against UC Davis, teasing the fans a bit before the next week's debut of the all black uniforms (a look repeated against Arizona).
The all-black look was good, but not great. It was also the first of three straight one-color looks the Devils would wear in the season's first half, with all-whites debuting at Illinois followed by all-maroons at USC (later seen in the regular season finale against Cal). Monochromatic looks rarely work and ASU's slate was a mixed bag. The all-whites were very good, with the all-blacks being solid and the all-maroon being quite the eyesore.
The three games before the bye week were all sharp combinations, with the white helmets and pants with a maroon jersey against Oregon State were the best of the bunch. The next two games were on the road, meaning the Devils had to use their white jersey, and they went with gold helmets and pants against Utah (and later in the year at Washington State) and maroon helmets and pants at Oregon.
A similar road look of black helmets and pants with the white jersey made its debut three weeks after the Oregon game against UCLA to kick off the team's tragic slide, and they wore them again in the bowl game embarrassment against Boise State, so one has to wonder if that combination will be "retired" for the foreseeable future.
With the review over, let's take a look at our winner.
After the bye week, ASU hosted Colorado, looking to go to 6-2 on the season and extend its grip on the Pac-12 South. For this key divisional battle, the Sun Devils came out in a Pittsburgh Steeler-esque uniform of black helmets, black jerseys and gold pants. The gold pants helped offset the drabness that a monochromatic look often provides, and accented the gold helmet pitchfork and the jersey numbering and shoulder stripes beautifully. That the Devils won 48-14 in a dominant fashion only helped the cause.
Looking ahead to next season, several good looks remain in play, so the possibilities are far from exhausted.
For a great look at all of the year's looks, as well as an addictive uniform designer tool, check out TheDevilsWear.com.
Follow me on Twitter @BDenny29 for ASU insight and analysis
What was your favorite look of the year (helmets/jerseys/pants)?
Gold/Maroon/Gold (16 votes)
All Black (15 votes)
All White (7 votes)
All Maroon (8 votes)
White/Maroon/White (2 votes)
Gold/White/Gold (1 vote)
Maroon/White/Maroon (4 votes)
Black/Black/Gold (8 votes)
Black/White/Black (5 votes)
66 total votes