As their seventh opportunity to compete for a national title approaching, the Georgia Bulldogs have seen countless changes since the team’s formation in January 1892, from rules to player clothing.
Although the red and black worn by both fans and players alike have remained the staple colors of the Bulldogs’ wardrobe, the similarities largely end there when comparing the University of Georgia football team uniforms over the decades.
Paying homage to the origins of football rugby, Georgia’s first kits were modeled after the popular rugby uniforms of the time. Sometimes decorated with a simple “G” on the chest, the shirts were made of a thick wool material to protect against colder weather and paired with thick, sometimes quilted work trousers and leather ankle boots, according to a library exhibit. of the UGA special collections.
Today several safety features are required by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but early Bulldogs uniforms did not require players to wear helmets. Optional padding included a tightly laced canvas vest, steel plates in the toes or ankles of the shoes, a metal nose guard or leather helmets.
Georgia’s signature red jersey first debuted in 1911 in the form of a wool sweater and made its first appearance at a national championship in 1920, according to Georgia’s Saturday Down South uniform history and records. subdivision of the 2017 NCAA Football Bowl.
This decade saw the introduction of the silver pants, an essential piece for today’s Bulldog look. After switching from thick work pants to khakis, coach Wally Butts introduced the silver pants when he was hired in 1939, according to a library exhibit of the UGA’s Special Collections.
1939 was a pivotal year for the football uniform both at UGA and within college football as a whole, when the helmet became mandatory equipment and the first plastic helmet became available, according to an article in the Bleacher Report.
In 1941, the silver helmet replaced UGA’s previously black helmet to help make receivers more recognizable to passing quarterbacks, according to a UGASports article.
A new song, “Go you silver britches”, gained popularity among the Bulldogs during this decade, as fans took a liking to the silver pants accented with red and black stripes on each leg, according to a Red & Black piece written by Rachel. Bowers.
As important as silver pants were in the previous decade, the arrival of head coach Vince Dooley temporarily put an end to the traditional uniform. Dooley introduced white pants in an effort to clean up Georgia’s image, as he didn’t like the singing of students’ silver pants.
Dooley continued to work with artist Anne Donaldson in 1963 to redesign the black oval logo on previous helmets with the layered black, white and red “G” still used on uniforms today, according to Bowers.
“The main thing about the G (designed by her) was forward looking, but the colors of black on white on red, I’ve heard some say are the most harmonious colors in existence,” Dooley said in The Red & Black article.
Today, many players from teams across the country can be found with stickers adorning the back of their helmets to recognize athletic and academic achievements alike. For Georgia players, this tradition began in 1971 with white stars and black and white bones, according to UGASports.
Despite the decades-long hiatus from silver pants, Dooley reverted to the traditional uniform in 1980 once singing was gone, according to Bowers. The same year, the Bulldogs won the national championship. These coinciding events only served to further re-establish the importance of the silver boys in Georgia’s football culture.
For years, Georgia football uniforms have been synonymous with the use of red helmets. However, in their rivalry match against the University of Florida in 2009, they broke away from tradition and debuted in a full helmet and matching black pants. This was only the third time in Bulldogs history black pants have been worn, according to Saturday Down South.
When Georgia suffered a 24-point loss to the Gators, superstitions seemed to confirm the superiority of the traditional uniform. The matching black uniform hasn’t been worn since.
In 2015, when Kirby Smart became the Bulldogs’ head coach, the 15-season tradition of awarding helmet stickers was broken, according to UGASports.
In recent years, Georgia has revealed more alternative jerseys throughout their seasons, including a black shirt with a red dog collar on the neckline with silver tips.
The national championship match on January 10 will feature another uniform that will be remembered by the spectators. Despite the numerous changes made to the Bulldogs uniforms over the years, the enthusiasm of Georgia fans to see players in black, white and red flashing across the pitch has remained.