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Let’s recap the history of Army/Navy alternate uniforms

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A glorious celebration of differing styles

Army v Navy

With all other FBS regular season college football wrapped up, the nation turns their attention to East Rutherford, NJ, this Saturday for the annual Army/Navy game. With 121 games between the Black Knights and the Midshipmen, Army/Navy is the 15th-most-played series in college football, and more importantly, has come to embody the spirit of the interservice rivalry of the United States Armed Forces, with all players on both sides becoming commissioned military officers upon graduation.

But within this annual football tradition has emerged another tradition: wild alternate uniforms. Despite being two of the most traditional programs in the country, each year, Army and Navy trot out some of the best one-off uniforms college football has seen specifically for this game. This began in 2008, when the alternate uniform craze first struck, with Nike rollout out “Pro Combat” uniforms for many of their top programs. But while college football uniform trends have skewed more conservative in recent years (both in overall design as well as the number of alternates/uniform combinations), the Army/Navy alternate uniforms have endured.

The uniforms for this year’s matchup were released shortly after Thanksgiving, and as usual, are both bangers. Personally I favor Navy’s (you can’t go wrong with the fighter-jet-inspired helmet, but the Army unis have a great story behind them.

So now let’s take a look back at the evolution of these uniforms from 2008 to today.

2008

Army Black Knights v Navy Midshipmen Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

In a trend that we still see today, Navy opts for a more complex, colorful design, while Army generally goes for a more simplistic, utilitarian look.

2009

Army v Navy Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Navy essentially just created a blue version of the jersey they wore one season prior, while Army wears something much closer to their standard look.

2010

Army v Navy Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Once again, Navy keeps the same pants, and makes only iterative changes to their jersey. while Army sticks with black and gold, even in a new template.

2011

Army v Navy Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

With Army’s stencil letters and Navy’s white helmet, here’s were we start to see some creativity happening.

2012

Army v Navy Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

This is perhaps the most memorable uniform matchup to date, with Army wearing black pants for the first time, and Navy rocking the iconic two-tone helmet that is emulated by others to this day.

2013

United States Military Academy vs United States Naval Academy Set Number: X157342 TK1 R3 F461

The same helmets again (no complaints here because both were awesome), but updated looks otherwise on both sides.

2014

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 13 Navy at Army Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s no surprise that Navy’s first year after moving from Nike to Under Armor also brought a much bolder uniform design, leaning into the red and white stripes big time. Meanwhile, Army looks like Army.

2015

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 12 Army v Navy Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Army busted out a black helmet for the first time, but were completely outclassed by these gorgeous helmets of various Navy vessels.

2016

Navy at Army Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Perhaps the most stark uniform contrast to date in this game, with Navy wearing bright yellow helmets and pants, contrasted by Army’s all charcoal/black look.

2017

Army v Navy Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Army wearing all white in the snow? Inject it into my veins. And Navy’s “Blue Angels” uniforms are more than pulling their weight as well. Perhaps their best combined look yet.

2018

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 08 Army v Navy Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Army goes all black once again, this time with gold accents, while Navy wears chrome navy blue helmets with white jerseys and pants. Once again, two beautiful, but very different unis.

2019

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 14 Army v Navy Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Perhaps the worst uniform matchup in the series, in my opinion. While the old gold and army green uniforms look good individually, seeing them on the same field just doesn’t seem to work.

2020

The 121st Army-Navy Football game. Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images

Once again, Navy goes bold (with an ocean/water theme) while Army goes with a very military look, featuring lots of matte finishes and muted colors. Love this contract.

Poll

Which Army/Navy uniform matchup is your favorite?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    2008
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    2009
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    2010
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    2011
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    2012
    (14 votes)
  • 8%
    2013
    (22 votes)
  • 1%
    2014
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    2015
    (28 votes)
  • 2%
    2016
    (6 votes)
  • 20%
    2017
    (57 votes)
  • 10%
    2018
    (28 votes)
  • 1%
    2019
    (5 votes)
  • 15%
    2020
    (43 votes)
  • 21%
    2021
    (58 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now