Orange Watch: New Syracuse football uniforms an upgrade in appearance

Dino Babers
Syracuse coach Dino Babers directs practice. Mandatory photo credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack returned to his network television executive roots overseeing and participating first-hand in last week’s unveiling of the new Syracuse football uniforms down the road at partner Turning Stone Resort’s Lava Nightclub. Head coach Dino Babers certainly looked in his element as well at the free-flowing event, complete with a choreographed presentation of the new and improved on-field look, along with a chance for the most ardent members of Orange Nation to speed up the calendar to the Aug. 31 season opener for at least one evening.

Do you like the look?

We certainly applaud the 2019-? Syracuse football fashion ensemble, most certainly as compared to the departed oblong jersey numbers that registered so many complaints as unreadable from the moment they first hit the field in 2014.

But the one nit-picking element we do not like is retaining the block ‘S’ on the sides of both the new orange and white helmets. It’s simply not necessary.

When the Jake Couthamel and Paul Pasqualoni era came to an end under Nancy Cantor, she decided to go in a completely different direction with Californian Daryl Gross running the department, and he in turn hired Californian Greg Robinson to replace Pasqualoni. It also signaled a change in Orange uniform protocol.

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Robinson’s first team debuted in 2005 in traditional white jerseys with sleeve stripes at home during a loss to West Virginia and a win over Buffalo (wearing white at home was a preference of Ben Schwartzwalder from the 1950s-1966 because he felt his players looked bigger in white jerseys with the traditional orange helmets) that also featured the player’s number on the helmets, another throwback look, along with a grey facemask.

In 2007, the numbers were replaced with a too large, navy blue plain block ‘S’ on each side of the helmet, and in 2008 that ‘S’ was made smaller with a white outline to better define against the orange helmet – and it’s never been abandoned since save for a couple of military appreciation games under Scott Shafer.

That’s too bad. Because exactly as Penn State’s simple plain white helmet says Nittany Lions football, Alabama’s crimson (with the player’s number) helmet says Crimson Tide, and Notre Dame’s gold says Fighting Irish, Syracuse’s only-orange helmet, worn in different iterations with striping from 1977-2004, ALWAYS meant Syracuse football.

The new uniforms certainly have the nod-to-tradition stamp highlighting the program’s rich history something Wildhack appreciates as a 1980 graduate, and likewise Babers during his three decades plus coaching around the country, and appreciation of college football tradition of a sport headed into its 150th anniversary season.

Removing the block ‘S’ and going with all-orange helmets (and ditching the white model while at it) would make the perfect blend of old and new for a program on the rise nationally.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 602 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.