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Buffalo Bulls are wise to go with more simplicity with 2016 uniforms from Nike

Last week the University of Buffalo offered a first glimpse at their newly designed football uniforms for the 2016 season from Nike. Now I finally get some time to offer my reaction to them after looking them over.

THE GOOD

Just about everything with this new uniform look from Nike is top-notch for Buffalo. In recent years Buffalo tried doing too much with its uniform to remind you it was in New York with the team name across the front of the jersey reading “State University of New York Buffalo“, with an emphasis more on New York than any other part of the uniform. At a time when programs like Syracuse and Rutgers are trying to claim ownership of the New York market, it made some sense for Buffalo to get in on the act, however it was poorly executed and made Buffalo quite the oversight. Maybe that was the goal? Regardless, the new uniform once again embraces Buffalo and does away with the clutter on the front of the uniform, and that is typically always a good thing. It is here.

“Having Buffalo on the front of our jerseys is important to us and it will be exciting for our fans as we head into the season,” Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold said in a press release statement, and I could not agree more. “We’re excited to get this thing started.”

The numbering is also slightly modified with a more traditional block numbering system, but I really like how it is done. The home uniform features a white block number outlined in black to stand out on the blue home jersey, while the away jersey features a blue number outlined in one layer of white and a thin black outline on top of that to separate it on the white away jersey. The extra outline layer does this uniform very well and makes the away jersey my favorite Buffalo will have this season.

Let’s talk about the helmets, because I like some of what Buffalo is doing there as well. Simplicity is also key for Buffalo. After having six different helmets to choose from in 2015, Buffalo whittled that number in half.

These early looks suggest Buffalo is going with a bit more reflective look on its helmet, without going full chrome dome. The white helmets have more of an egg-shell complexion and reflection judging by the artist rendering photos, and feature what could be a reflective blue face mask or black face mask depending on the style. The blue style features the “UB” logo on the right side of the helmet in the same color. I think the logo being a reflective chrome style with a matching facemask would be sharp for Buffalo and I hope that is the final product. The design is fairly simplistic, which is nice. No stripe down the middle is needed here. The only thing I am left wondering is what is on the left side of the helmet. The same logo? A uniform number (Buffalo had uniform numbers on their helmets in the early to mid 1960s)? Either would be fine with me.

I am not 100 percent on board with the other white helmet design, as it goes with black over blue for its complimentary color choice on the white helmet. however, I am willing to give it a pass because it sticks to some simplicity in the design. Instead of a blue “UB” logo we have a black bull logo with a matching black facemask. It works, and actually looks pretty decent with the blue uniform. Considering Buffalo plays in black pants, this helmet actually should look pretty good when part of the complete uniform. I would prefer blue here instead of black, but it seems to work.

THE BAD

Buffalo and Nike just could not help but go with an alternate black uniform for the sake of having an alternate black uniform. Black is not one of the school colors of Buffalo (blue and white are), so this obviously is a strike against one of my main uniform design rules stipulating no school not adopting black as an official school color should use it as a primary color choice for any particular uniform design. This is just a trend to hopefully attract the eye of a high school kid too stupid to look deeper beyond a fancy uniform when on the recruiting trail. So this part of the uniform design gets a thumbs down from me right out of the gate.

The black helmet also gets a thumbs down from me, primarily for the use of black for the sake of suing black. Buffalo first introduced a black helmet to the mix in 2014 as an alternate look and it continued with two separate black helmet design options in 2015. This year it looks as though there will be just one black helmet to work with. The matte finish is something I do enjoy, and overall it is not a poorly designed helmet, but I just cannot get on board with the concept and will stand by giving this choice a thumbs down. Speaking of helmets, no more blue helmet? Buffalo will have two different white helmets and a black helmet but not one blue helmet? This seems like a poor decision. A blue helmet should be mandatory for Buffalo if the team is going to have multiple helmet options. A blue helmet with a white “UB” or a bull logo would go well with the road uniform and would complete an all-blue look at home.

Buffalo will also be wearing black pants with its home blue uniforms in addition to their black alternate uniforms. That is actually not all that surprising, given Buffalo has been wearing black pants with its uniforms already. The black pants have included a blue touch on the leg in the past, but early pictures fail to show any such blue on the pants for the upcoming season as of yet. I would prefer to see Buffalo go with either blue pants when at home, as they have done before. White pants at home with the blue jersey could also work, although it may start to make Buffalo look a little too similar to a program like BYU.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

Overall, I have to give Buffalo some praise for their new uniforms for the 2016 season. The new tweaks to the design are well done without going overboard on anything in particular. Going with “Buffalo” over “State University of New York Buffalo” was an obvious correction to a poorly executed and thought-out plan in the first place, so I am happy to see that change to the uniform. The road white uniform looks great from head to toe. The number font is solid and the way it is outlined was well done as well, especially on the road white uniform.

There are, however, too many negatives that hold me back from saying this uniform set is a home run for Buffalo. The all-black alternate uniform, lack of blue helmets and blue pants leaves me thinking Buffalo could have done better this time around. I’ll give the new Buffalo uniforms a passing grade, but they certainly are not at the head of the class this season.

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About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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