Aesthetic Analysis: Breaking down Georgia's new uniforms with Uni Watch's Paul Lukas

Georgia football dropped a bombshell on Thursday morning when the team released a video depicting new alternate uniforms for the 2020 season.

For a team with such a traditional look, this is pretty big news. So we’re here to break it down for you with a little help from uniform aficionado Paul Lukas, who according to his website Uni-watch.com has covered “the obsessive study of athletics aesthetics” for over 20 years. 

So with that, let’s get into Georgia’s new look:

Black is back

First up is something Bulldog fans have been asking about for a while: black jerseys.

The video showcased a black jersey with block numerals and the newer Bulldog logo on the shoulder pads. I personally love the black jersey look for Georgia, whether it be this version or the edition they’ve worn in years past. 

Lukas agreed with the choice, saying that unlike some other schools black isn’t a stretch for Georgia since it’s a school color. However, he wasn’t as much in favor of one of the more visible aspects of the jersey - the dog collar spikes around the neck of the jersey.

“I wrote on my website today that it seems like it was supposed to be intimidating, but to me it just seems like a silly, comic book, macho, weaponizing thing,” Lukas said.

I tend to agree with that sort of thinking. It looks a little out of place, like something an XFL or Arena Football team could wear. It might look better on TV, but for now I think a plain collar looks better. 

To me, it seemed to be the type of thing that could be designed to appeal to potential recruits. But according to a 2013 ESPN article, uniforms ranked eighth on the list of criteria for recruits when picking where to spend their playing days. 

“Schools like Alabama and Penn State haven’t had any difficulty attracting recruits even though they have really, really plain uniforms,” Lukas said.

On Lukas’ website post that featured the Georgia uniforms Friday morning, a Uni Watch reader commented that spiked dog collars are actually a defensive mechanism. They’re used by dogs that guard livestock in order to protect from wolf bites. 

I don’t think that’s the message that Georgia was going for when designing these jerseys. But hey, you never know.

“Maybe when they’re playing Michigan, when they play Wolverines, that’s about as close as it would get,” Lukas said.

Of course, there are those Georgia fans that believe the black jerseys are cursed and should never be worn. Lukas, however, doesn’t put a lot of stock into such superstitions.

“You make your own luck, you make your own curse,” Lukas said.

What is dead may never die

Thought you’d never see Georgia in red pants again? Not so fast, my friend.

The Bulldogs also unveiled a throwback uniform to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1980 national championship team. The white jersey features a bold red stripe sandwiched between smaller black stripes on the shoulders, as well as the red pants look that the team sported from 1978-88.

At first, the move away from the traditional silver pants came as a bit of a shock to the eyes. But the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. It has that vintage feel with an updated, modern twist I think all uniforms should aspire to.

That newer look is in the details that don’t go unnoticed for Lukas. The shoulder stripes were more down toward the end of the sleeves in 1980, but since players don’t wear their sleeves that way anymore the design is moved up to just under the shoulder pads.

On the pants, the white stripe down the side appears to be a bit wider than the originals. All in all though, it’s pretty faithful to the 1980 set. 

The jersey also sports a 40th anniversary patch to commemorate the national champions. Lukas noticed an interesting detail - the Georgia helmet on the patch features a single-bar facemask.

“I wonder how many players on that team, if any, actually wore a single bar because even by 1980, the single bar was pretty rare at that point,” Lukas said. “It wasn’t banned yet or officially out, but it was very atypical.”

Fans won’t have to wait long to see these in action - the Bulldogs will wear them in the season opener at Arkansas on Sept. 26.

Together equality

The two alternates, and presumably the primary uniforms as well, feature a patch on the jersey promoting social justice. The black square reads “Together Equality” over an outline of Georgia with the  Power G logo in the middle.

The Bulldogs are just the latest FBS team to unveil a jersey patch or helmet sticker in support of the social justice movement that has been sweeping the country. Lukas thinks this school by school approach might make the displays even more powerful.

“I think if it’s one size fits all, I think people sort of develop a blind spot to it and there’s the impression that it came more from on high, like it was imposed by the NCAA or the conference or the league, whatever it is and that teams are just doing what they’ve been told to do,” Lukas said. “But when each school designs its own and comes up with its own design for a patch, I do think that it speaks a little more, it feels a little more at ground level, not from on high.”

It’s still an unknown how these displays will affect the way fans think about social justice. Lukas compared it to when teams wear camouflage, saying that doesn’t necessarily lead to increased support or donations for the military. 

But that’s not to say it isn’t important. When teams are decked out in camouflage, they illustrate that supporting the military is something society cares about. That’s what could happen with the types of social justice patches and stickers that schools, including Georgia, are breaking out.

“This is part of the currency and conversation of our culture and society that we share and we think is important,” Lukas said. “It’s saying that this kind of thing is something that we as a society, we as a culture and we as a school and a team agree is important and that this is now part of our cultural mainstream and part of our cultural priorities.”