Last week we took some time to roll through a number of the military appreciation uniforms around college football with Veterans Day around the corner. This week that theme continues for some schools that missed out on an opportunity to honor veterans at home. Two in particular caught my eye for very different reasons.
When UCLA breaks out the alternate black helmets, I tend to shake my head in disbelief. UCLA’s signature look is beautiful and there is never a reason to step away from the familiar gold helmet with the UCLA script along the side, yet the Bruins have made it a habit of suiting up in black uniforms complete with a black helmet from time to time. This time, however, UCLA is offering a unique twist on its alternate black helmet.
This weekend, UCLA will wear an alternate black helmet with a gold skeleton of a frog outlined in blue. No, this is not a design previously tossed by TCU (although, keep it in mind, Horned Frogs), but instead this is a tribute to the NAVY Seals. The Leap Frogs are the top parachuting team
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) November 12, 2015
This goes a step beyond the typical military tribute. It turns out UCLA has a nice little relationship with the Navy SEALS, even though the SEALS can be found in San Diego, not Los Angeles. As a few teams around the country have started doing in preseason camps, the Bruins have connected with the Navy SEALS for some workouts and exercises with the SEALS. The SEALS, of course, also have one of the more famous and recognized parachuting team, known as the Leapfrogs. This helmet is a nod to the SEALS.
Last week we saw Miami take the field in their all-black military tribute uniforms. I expressed my thought Miami was taking advantage of Veterans Day to roll out an alternate uniform, which I tend to think is done in poor taste as it instead shifts the focus on the recruiting angle instead of truly placing the focus on veterans. Miami made up for that by auctioning off game-worn uniforms for charitable causes related to veterans. Still, it seems UCLA is following in that same footstep with this helmet. Of course, as I said above, I frown on UCLA’s alternate looks purely by default.
The University of Illinois seems to be going with a much more appropriate touch of respect to those who have served the country. When Illinois takes on Ohio State, they will do so wearing their orange helmets with the “I” logo filled in with a stars and stripes pattern. That’s cool, but we have seen that before from plenty of schools. Not quite like this though. Each star on the helmet will actually have a meaning behind it.
FYI-the 10 stars on the I decal represent the 10 former Illini football players that went to war but never came home pic.twitter.com/8i2dB1sr5c
— Michael Martin (@MPMartin_56) November 13, 2015
Now that is a nice touch by Illinois, and that is how military tributes around Veterans Day should be handled. No gimmicky alternate uniforms that just so happen to fall around Veterans Day. Illinois sticks to its roots, its best look and decorates it with a nice nod to the program’s history while honoring those who have served the country. Well done, Illinois. You may not beat Ohio State, but you beat UCLA when it comes to Veterans Day uniform design.