"Look good, feel good, play good." The famous adage is often mocked by old-school coaches as frilly and trivial, but in today's world of college football, uniforms matter.
Uniforms are a reflection of a program, a fan base, and increasingly, the players a team is trying to recruit. It should come as no surprise that Oregon's rise to college football greatness coincided with its Nike makeover.
When opponents saw Oregon start to snag five-star recruits with flashy helmets and glow-in-the-dark socks, they had no choice but to follow suit.
This offseason, plenty of teams unveiled uniform changes and new alternate jerseys, and teams from the Pac-12 are no exception. With the ever-changing landscape of what teams are wearing, we stopped to peg down our rankings for the conference's top unis.
1. Oregon (Unanimous)
Simply put, no one does uniforms better than the Ducks. With Nike sugar daddy Phil Knight happy to bankroll every stylistic decision, Oregon football has become the unquestioned trendsetter across college football.
The Ducks weren't always this hip. In the late 1990s, Oregon donned disgusting green and yellow uniforms that looked fresh off the sale rack at Toys ‘R Us. But once Knight and co. sensed a marketing opportunity, the Ducks laid claim to the rest of the color wheel as black, gray, white, electric lime, and more became part of the team's regular digs.
Oregon has put wings on helmets, feathers on shoulder pads, and Ducks on their pants. Recruits have noticed, and Oregon has become a national powerhouse. The Ducks' next foray? We suggest making their unis look even sweeter on 3D television.
2. Arizona State
This ranking may come as a surprise to some old-school Arizona State fans, but the Sun Devils' push into the new era of uniforms has had overwhelming success with younger fans. The main factor Arizona State has going for it: A classic foundation with maroon and gold.
Maroon and gold looks so clean in person and on television, and the Sun Devils have utilized their new connections with Nike to their advantage. Sleek black uniforms are a treat for big night games, while combinations like the one we saw at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (White helmet, black jersey, white pants) have turned critics into believers.
The one drawback about the 2011 uniform redesign? Some fans believe that the new maroon and gold unis look cheap, and changing that sentiment is priority No. 1 going forward.
The Trojans' iconic look falls in just behind the Sun Devils at No. 3. The cardinal and gold has defined USC since the early days of its football program, and remains one of the few unchanged looks in college football.
As other programs look to stay modern with cutting-edge jerseys, the Trojans will likely never open their minds about messing with their color-scheme. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Working with powder blue and gold is not an easy task, but the Bruins seem to have found the right combination. Their return to prominence has been marked by a few attempts at modernizing the unis, including a puzzling navy blue jersey they wore last season.
In our opinion, the powder blue makes UCLA stand out. Few teams have bold color schemes to work with, so why not take advantage and make the most of what they've got? One of the greatest looks in college football comes when the Bruins battle the Trojans for the victory bell as both teams wear their legendary home colors.
This spring, the Golden Bears announced a complete makeover throughout their athletic department. Cal was one of the first Pac-12 teams to venture into the land of modern uniforms, and the Bears appear to have finally found the right combination with the 2013 redesign.
Though all-yellow used to look hideous, Cal has dropped the light yellow look and will put the "golden" back in Golden Bears when they step on the field this season. Aside from the all-gold alternates, the white away jerseys look fabulous and the navy home uniforms are simple and appealing.
Like USC, Washington has always identified with a classic look and the purple and gold color scheme lends itself to that. In our opinion, the Huskies gold helmets look great with the home purples, but a white helmet may make the road whites look a little cleaner.
Recently, the Huskies debuted a black alternate jersey and not only do they look menacing, they back up the flashy digs with wins. Washington upset the Stanford Cardinal while donning black last season, and we think it's one of the better alternates in the Pac-12.
As we move into the back half of our uniform power rankings, we take a gander at some of the less visually pleasing looks. However, the Stanford Cardinal doesn't fall into that category just yet, as the cardinal and white still looks classy.
Stanford is another school that seems reluctant to move from its traditional color-scheme and meet the modern era, but coach Jim Harbaugh helped introduce a radical black uniform that looked downright slick (At least with Andrew Luck making plays it did). Here's hoping the Cardinal bring back the blacks more often, because that was one of the more surprising uniform changes of the past decade.
The Buffaloes are one of many teams that seem to have mastered the home uniform look, but can't quite get a grasp for how an away uniform should look. Like Washington, Colorado seems married to its gold helmets on the road, which is a shame because black or white could look so sleek.
If the Buffaloes right the ship and become a powerhouse again, they would be an ideal candidate for a Nike Pro-Combat shake-up. The gold and black are just too much for the uniform designers to play with, and there's plenty of potential waiting within this color scheme.
The Wildcats are blessed with one of the greatest color schemes on the planet, but the athletic department hasn't figured out how to capitalize just yet. Nothing says patriotism and dominance quite like the red, white, and blue, but Arizona continues to make puzzling uniform decisions.
The blue is too dark for an all-blue look (which is weird anyway) and the all-red scheme doesn't look good on a football field. However, it's a fantastic option on the basketball court. The blue helmet, red jersey, and blue pants look takes advantage of the color scheme the best, but there's still so much room for growth and improvement.
10. Oregon State
The Beavers have one mission: Keep it simple. Orange and black are a beautiful combination, but Oregon State is one program that Nike seems to have trouble figuring out.
The new Beaver logo on the helmet is horrendous, and any attempt to work with a bright orange jersey should be discarded immediately. The new whites have the potential to be trend-setting, but the program needs a little more work on those home blacks.
11. Washington State
Any time gray is a primary color, there are some underlying issues. Right now, the salt and pepper look Mike Leach sports in his hair is more visually appealing than the gray that has appeared throughout the Cougars' uniforms.
Gray helmets, gray jerseys, gray pants, and a gray outlook for the upcoming season. The road whites are among the sleeker road looks in the Pac-12, especially with the pop of red coming from the numbers. However, something needs to be done about all of the gray.
Utah has fallen in love with monochromatic uniform schemes and it's a sick trap. Red helmets, red jerseys, and red pants look awful together, and the Utes haven't even figured out how to make a "black-out" uniform look good.
Red, black, and white are not the most difficult colors to work with, but Utah seems to be unable to cope with the hand its been dealt. If the Utes want to become a Pac-12 player, they have to figure out how to take advantage of their uniforms.
Previous Power Rankings
Think we should stop writing about fashion and just get back to football? Or do you have an opinion about the Pac-12 uniforms yourself? Leave us a comment in the thread below!