Uniforms are becoming increasingly important in the college football world. With each passing season, it seems like teams are in a race to come out with a new look or special uniforms -- anything that will make the school that much more attractive to possible recruits.
And don't be fooled ... recruits really do care about them.
Recruits aren't alone, either. Just about every time a school comes out with a new look, you'll be able to read about it here at CBS Sports as our readers can't seem to get enough of the uniforms, either.
So, if uniforms are that important, we must give them the traditional college football treatment: ranking them.
This week, I'll be ranking the uniforms of every Power Five conference, from the worst to the best. These rankings are based on absolutely nothing but my personal taste.
Today, we rank the uniforms of the Big Ten, the conference I grew up watching. As a result, I've grown somewhat attached to just about every uniform in the conference. That makes this all just a bit more difficult, because even the uniforms I don't like have some place in my heart, well, except for Maryland and Rutgers.
Sorry, newbies, but I'm ranking you based on nothing but what my discerning eye for fashion sees.
14. Maryland: Was it worth it, Jim Delany? Were all those new cable boxes, and that extra television revenue worth having to look at these crimes against humanity that Maryland calls a uniform every week? Can you really put a price on your vision? Because I'm telling you, Jim, one of these days you'll be watching a Maryland-Minnesota rivalry game, and you'll just snap. You won't be able to take it anymore. You will begin pouring bleach into your eyes just to make the pain go away. Will it have been worth it then, Jim?
13. Indiana: From the neck down, Indiana's uniforms are fine. There's nothing special about them, but there isn't really anything offensive to the eye, either. They're just standard issue football uniforms, done in two very common colors. But the helmets, man, the helmets. Indiana is handicapped a bit by what it can do with its logo because you can't put a Hoosier on there. "Hey, look, it's some dude in a John Deere hat." That means Indiana has to stick with its simple IU logo, but Indiana felt it was too boring -- because it is. This is where things go wrong, whether it's the peppermint wheel chrome helmet, or the state flag helmet, it's all just bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.
12. Wisconsin: My main problem with Wisconsin's uniforms are the big, dumb W on the helmet. It's just so silly looking. I have never liked it, and I was heartbroken to find out that my high school -- shout out Proviso West -- went with the same W logo on their helmets after I graduated. There's a small part of me that wants to become a billionaire solely so I can finance new uniforms for the old alma mater. That's how much I dislike the W. As for the rest of the uniform, it's basically the same situation as Indiana, right down to the colors. There's nothing wrong with them, but there's nothing good about them, either. They're boring, but not the right kind of boring.
11. Rutgers: It's funny because when I look at Rutgers I see a uniform that I believe I should strongly dislike, but I don't. They're like a painting that you appreciate more and more the longer you stare at it. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Rutgers' uniforms are amazing or anything. Where I have them ranked here should make that clear. There are parts of the look that I really do like though. When it comes to chrome helmets, roughly 80 percent of the time I'm like "why?' and the other 20 percent works. Rutgers falls in that 20 percent. Particularly the silver chrome helmet with the black R logo. Those things are fantastic.
10. Michigan State: The one thing about Michigan State uniforms that holds them back is the font the school uses in the lettering and in the numbers. I just don't like it. It looks like something you'd see on somebody's Geocities site back the late 90s. If Sparty would just find a new font, I bet it would improve the look significantly. I mean, I like the helmet, and the green and white colors work well together. I'm even OK with Michigan State working in some black, because I think it plays well with the shade of green it uses. Stop with the gold or pewter or whatever the hell that metallic color you wore occasionally last year was. It just doesn't work.
9. Minnesota: Minnesota has great colors to work with. Maroon and gold work well together, and it's a unique enough combination in that you don't see a too many other schools using it. What bothers me is that Minnesota has that combination, and it just doesn't do enough with it. The yellow helmet with the maroon M is a good start, keep going in that direction. If you want to do something a bit more drastic, I do have a recommendation: ditch the M logo. Put the gopher on the helmets. You won't regret it.
8. Nebraska: Here's the thing. If you're reading this, you're likely wondering why I can have Indiana and Wisconsin ranked as low as I do, yet have Nebraska this high. Well, it's quite simple really. Nebraska's uniforms aren't just boring, they're aggressively boring. Just look at the N logo on the helmet. It's like Tom Osborne -- I operate under the assumption that Tom Osborne literally gave birth to Nebraska football, and has made every single decision about the program since -- said "I want the most basic looking damn letter in the history of language on my helmet," and that's exactly what he got. It's so damn boring that I actually have to respect it in a twisted way. That's why Nebraska is this high. If not for some horrific alternates in recent years, I might even have the Huskers higher.
7. Purdue: Listen, Purdue, you play some horrible football, but you've taken a big step forward in the uniform game lately. You're blessed with some great colors in black and gold, which gives you an awesome foundation to work with. That means keeping it simple with the uniform is typically going to work well for you no matter what you do, but there were a couple of helmet changes last year that I just loved. There were the black matte helmets with the train track stripe down the center was divine, and then you busted out those white helmets with the train logo! Those were even better! Hell, I even like the fluorescent yellow, Purdue. If your actual football team can take the same step forward as your helmet game did last season, I smell a bowl game.
6. Ohio State: I used to like Ohio State's uniforms a lot more, with the helmet being one of the main reasons. I liked the sparkly silver dome with the Buckeye stickers all over it, but in recent years, Ohio State's been tinkering with the helmet. They've also been tinkering with different alternates, some of which have worked, and others haven't. At the end of the day, though, I still like Ohio State's uniforms, even with the unnecessary tinkering. It's probably more likely that the Buckeyes were just passed by a couple of other uniforms more so than they've fallen back.
5. Illinois: Illinois went through a rebrand recently, and man did it work out well for the Illini. They went from having one of my least favorite uniforms in the Big Ten -- despite having one of my favorite color combinations -- to reaching the top five. The Illini not only have a number of new combinations they can work with for any game, but none of them look bad. Hell, I like the gray uniforms, even if Illinois having gray uniforms makes no sense. Illinois' uniforms are like a role player on a basketball team -- I had to mention basketball or Illinois fans would stop reading -- in that, while they don't have superstar potential, they have a high floor.
4. Michigan: The greatest thing that could have happened to Michigan was its recent deal with Nike. I was starting to become convinced that Adidas' sole goal with the Wolverines was to destroy their self-esteem by making them wear ugly uniforms, and thereby destroying the football program. For a time there it looked as though it might work! Now we should see an end to the hideous alternates the Wolverines had been wearing, and see them go back to the basics. Maize and blue work wonderfully together. You don't need to do anything crazy with the uniforms to make them stand out with those colors. They do it on their own. Then there's the helmet. I know some people don't like it, but it's an iconic look, and one I find quite appealing and unique.
3. Northwestern: When you're working with purple, black and white, you've got an advantage over a lot of other teams in my mind, and those colors are a big reason why Northwestern is this high. They aren't the only reason, though. The one thing that helps make Northwestern stand out is having the horizontal stripe across the midsection on the uniforms. When I first saw them as a concept, I thought it was ridiculous, but seeing them on the actual uniforms, and on the field, I think it's great. The stripe is just kind of nerdy, something you'd see on a sweater that the dorky kid in class is wearing, and that's perfect for Northwestern. The Wildcats don't mind the "smart kid" reputation that they have. Now, with all that being said, those all-black gothic uniforms? Burn them.
2. Iowa: A lot of people will complain that Iowa's uniforms look too much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Steelers look good! And so do the Hawkeyes! If you're flipping through games on a college football Saturday, you immediately recognize the Iowa Hawkeyes when they show up on your screen. They're simple and classic, but also with the right stripes in the right places to make them pop a bit more. Plus, that logo is fantastic.
1. Penn State: Earlier in this post, I called Wisconsin's uniforms boring, but said they aren't the right kind of boring. Penn State's uniforms are the right kind of boring. They're basic, clean, simple, and beautiful. There's no logo, there aren't even names on the jerseys. Just blocks of color with a white helmet featuring a blue stripe. I know that a lot of you will disagree with me having Penn State ranked here, and I'll completely understand where you're coming from. To you these might not be the right kind of boring, but just plain boring. And that's fine, but I love them. The only thing I'd like to see change is going back to having the white or blue collar on the jerseys. They made things pop a bit more.