Last week we looked at the uniforms that KU wore between 1961 and 1981, specifically the uniforms featured during their sporadic bowl appearances. Today, we skip ahead to some games and uniforms that many of us remember, starting with the 1992 Aloha Bowl.
1992 and 1995 Aloha Bowl
These two bowl games are lumped together because I can find only one significant difference between the uniforms in this four-year stretch and that is the helmet stripe featured in the 1995 game. But these two games do give us a great look at the home and away sets that KU wore in this era. First of all, the blue is perfect. It just says Kansas and there is an appropriate amount of red to complement the blue. You really know who you are watching when you see these uniforms. My only complaint is that the Jayhawk logo is relegated to the sleeves and pants while the helmet is emblazoned with a big red KU. To be fair, the font used is one of my favorites and was used universally across KU athletics at the time. Plus, these are the uniforms of my high school and college years so they will always hold a soft spot in my heart - except the all blues that they wore at home sometimes. Those can burn. Stick with white pants at home.
Uniform Highlights: Proper blue, Eric Vann wore these when he broke for a TD against Oklahoma from the one-yard line. 99 yards baby (Video: 0:55 mark)!
Overall Grade: B+
2003 Tangerine Bowl
Remember this game? Maybe you do, but do you remember that KU wore navy blue for a brief period in Mark Mangino’s early years? Yep, they did, and they looked pretty sharp, except for it just isn’t KU to me (although it used to be a pretty popular color at Kansas in the past) . If this was some other school that actually wore navy blue, I’d love this set, but it’s Kansas and the blue just doesn’t jive. Football was the only program stepping outside the traditional blue, trying to separate itself from the mediocrity that had ensconced the program as Mangino was stepping into the hot seat. They were using an different font for the KU on the helmet. Nope, the more I look at these, the more I dislike them.
Overall Grade: C
2005 Fort Worth Bowl
We’re almost to the "modern classic" portion of the proceedings with the notable exception of the bland font used on the helmets. With the circus font still in use, an interlocking KU using that font would have made these uniforms perfect. As it stands, they get a solid "very good" from me. I personally love the use of the silver pants for home and away. I thought it was a great look for KU, and even though most thought they were a direct rip-off of the New York Giants, it worked perfectly for KU. Plus, Kansas used blue numbers on the away whites whereas the Giants use red. The blue is more powerful, plus it’s more Kansas. Just look at the Hawks compared to Houston. It’s fairly obvious who the better dressed team is.
Uniform Highlights: Almost everything
Overall Grade: A-
2008 Orange Bowl
Wearing an alternate uniform in a bowl game was a bit riskier back in 2008. Now, almost every team gets a special occasion uniform for its bowl appearance, but in 2007-2008, that wasn’t the case. Besides, who cares if it’s risky when you look this good. When you look at the combinations KU had at their disposal in 2007 (Blue over silver, white over silver, red over silver), you just couldn’t pick one that looked bad. They were all winners, but I remember being especially excited when they chose the reds for the Orange Bowl. Man, those look good and I am not a fan of red as the primary color for KU. Going away from red alternates in hoops was a great idea, and don’t get me started about the amount of red seen on the gridiron these days, but these were awesome. Maybe it’s because they were the first alternate jersey that KU wore, but with all the other elements of the uniform, they just pop.
KU ushered in the Trajan font for the 2007 season and it can be seen on the helmet, chest insignia, and numbers, and although controversial at the time, I think it improved the look on the gridiron. The numbers might be the only possible exception, as they don’t scream out "Football!" like the traditional block numbers, but again, these have grown on me.
Uniform Highlights: Perfection.
Overall Grade: A
2008 Insight Bowl
This is the year where the silver pants died for some reason. Thankfully for us, KU still looked good in the Insight Bowl where they went white over white. Not much more to say about these uniforms that wasn’t stated above. Most of the same elements are there, and all things considered, the white look is nice. But, you know what would’ve made those uniforms even better? You guessed it, silver pants. Glad they brought them back for a few games in 2013 and I hope that continues in 2014.
Uniform Highlights: Why didn’t KU keep the silver pants between 2009 and 2012? Such a classic look.
Overall Grade: B
Overall, a pretty solid, albeit inconsistent effort from KU. Next week we take a look at what the Jayhawks wore last season with a game-by-game critique. Somehow, I don’t think the grades will be this high. As usual, feel free to agree, disagree, or just voice your opinion in the comments section below.