Colorado State football’s uniform history in color

Ryan Loberger and Tyler Meguire

It is officially Homecoming week at Colorado State University. One of the best things about Homecoming is the traditions and, most famously, the football game to wrap up the week. CSU will host San Diego State at Canvas Stadium in a Stripe Out game Saturday night.

With so much history and tradition to celebrate this week, we decided to take a look at the Ram uniforms over the years. These uniforms have taken many different shapes, especially with the transitions from Colorado Agricultural College to Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (Colorado A&M) to Colorado State University.

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1922-1958 Orange, Green, Yellow and White 

1920s

Wearing what is considered the first uniform of the Aggies and the Colorado Agricultural College, the team donned an old leather helmet with a dark green base, leather colored pants and numbers. After a decade of losing, the hiring of Harry W. Hughes in 1911 as head coach and athletic director turned the program around. Starting with a new field in 1912, Hughes and the Aggies won conference championships in 1915, 1916, 1919, 1920, 1925 and 1927.

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  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1922-28. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • A member of the Colorado Agricultural College football team poses for a photo. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University.)

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1930s 

The Aggies wore a green and yellow look at the end of the 1920s and into the early 1940s. The team captured conference championships in 1933 and 1934 with Hughes retiring as head coach in 1941. The defining feature of the uniform was the bright yellow stripe and the deep forest green with a matching helmet. This was also the first time the uniforms had a number displayed on the front of the jersey, and the feature stayed on every jersey after that. During this time in 1935, the Colorado Agricultural College was renamed to Colorado A&M.

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  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1933-39. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1929-32. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Frank J. “Swede” Prince, in uniform #27 and a helmet, stands with his hands behind his back. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University.)

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1940s

This new uniform duo was the first to have a solid green jersey and a solid white jersey. When Hughes retired from head coaching duties, the University hired Bob Davis on Jan. 6, 1947, and under his tenure, the Aggies had several successful seasons and sent multiple players to the NFL. Some notable players include defensive tackles Dale Dodrill and Thurman “Fum” McGraw; defensive backs Jim David, Don Burroughs and Jack Christiansen; halfback Alex Burl; and quarterback Gary Glick. This uniform was worn by McGraw, one of the greatest athletes to walk the grounds of Fort Collins.

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  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1945-49. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Aggie football legend Thurman “Fum” McGraw poses for a photo on Colorado Field in 1949. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

  • Thurman “Fum” McGraw poses for a photo on Colorado Field in 1949. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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1950s

It may not look like it, but the helmets from 1949-50 have one huge difference from previous helmets. The 1950s helmet featured the introduction of the plastic helmet rather than the old leather helmet. Like Hughes, Davis stepped down as the coach of the Aggies but stayed as the athletic director, and the school hired former player and at-the-time Line Coach Don Mullison.

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  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1950 featuring the new plastic helmet. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1952-56. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Gary Glick runs across the field during a game in 1954. Glick was the first overall pick in the 1956 NFL draft. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University.)

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Mullison took over in 1956, and his tenure as the head coach was forgettable to say the least. He had only two winning seasons and an overall record of 19-40-1 in his five seasons. The biggest news for the football team was in the 1957-58 season. The Colorado A&M was no more, and Colorado State University was born. With the new name, CSU decided to change the uniforms up just a bit. The helmets no longer featured the ram horns like in previous years. Instead, the helmets just had generic numbers. The freshly outfitted Rams also changed their home uniforms to the green top and white pants instead of orange pants.

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  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1957-58. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Joe Crider (10) takes the snap from center Bob Erickson (52) during a game in 1958. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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1959-1992 Green, Yellow and White 

1960s

Fresh off a new school name, the Rams got rid of the Aggie orange to start a new chapter for themselves. Seen in the photos below, CSU took a big shift to green and yellow as a new brand for the school.

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  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1959-61. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Joe Crider (10) kneels next to Head Coach Don Mullison during a game in 1960. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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Mike Lude took over after Mullison was fired in 1961. The Lude era was another one CSU fans won’t remember fondly. In seven years of the Lude era, the Rams went 29-51-1, and in 1962, they went 0-10. In 1966, CSU went 7-3, marking the best season under Lude. The Rams’ jersey donned the NCAA approved 100th anniversary decal on the side of the helmet — worn in 1969. The uniforms also featured CSU on the sleeves, a style that would not be seen again. Lude departed Fort Collins after eight seasons following a lowly 4-9 record. 

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  • Colorado State University uniforms from 1962-68. (Artwork courtesy of Andrew Quirk of Quirk Photography)

  • Colorado State running back Oscar Reed carries the ball during a game in 1962. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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1970s

The Rams’ struggles continued in the early part of the decade as Coach Jerry Wampfler only lasted two seasons and resigned before the 1972 season with a record of 8-25. The Rams kept their Packers-resembling uniforms but added detail to the helmets that had not been displayed on the uniforms since 1956: the ram horns.

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  • Colorado State football player has his photo taken in a gym between 1973-75. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

  • Colorado State quarterback drops back in the pocket during a game between 1973-75. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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Sark Arslanian came to Fort Collins in 1973, and the team found some stability in his eight years leading the team. Finishing with a 45-47-4 record, the highlight of the Arslanian era came in the 1977 season as the Rams finished with a 9-2-1 record. After that, it was a steady decline before Arslanian left Fort Collins in the 1981 season after the Rams started the season with an embarrassing 0-6 record. The rest of the season didn’t go any better.

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  • Ron Harris (30) carries the ball in a game vs. Wyoming in 1976. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

  • A Colorado State football player has his photo taken on Hughes Field between 1976-78. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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1980s

The 1981 season was one of the low points for CSU. The team is the first team in NCAA history to go 0-12 — not the first team to go winless, just 0-12. Not much changed in the uniforms, however. They had similar jerseys to the 1969 team with the horns. The slow start to the ’80s was an indicator of things to come, with just two seasons over .500 in the decade that the Rams chewed through three head coaches.

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  • Quarterback Terry Nugent drops back during a Colorado State football game. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

  • Colorado State University quarterback looks down field during a road game in 1980. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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Coach Leon Fuller lasted as the Rams coach from 1982-88 and resigned in 1988 as the team fell to a 1-10 record. Earle Bruce took over in 1989 and led the Rams to some of the biggest wins in program history. A 32-31 win over Oregon in the 1990 Freedom Bowl and a surprising 17-14 victory over the LSU Tigers in 1992 stand out from the 22-24-1 record in Bruce’s four seasons at the helm.

1993-Present Green, Yellow and White 

1990s

With Bruce’s departure in 1992, the Rams were at the doorstep of the golden age of CSU football under Coach Sonny Lubick. The school hired Lubick to bring the team back to relevancy in 1993, and the former Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator was up to the task. Lubick brought in the new era of CSU football and with it his signature green and Vegas gold uniforms.

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  • Colorado State running back Leonice Brown breaks a tackle during a game vs. Wyoming in 1993. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

  • A Colorado State football player stands with his hands on his hips. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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The 1997 season would feature one of the greatest teams in CSU history. This team finished with an overall record of 11-2 and was ranked 17th in the final AP poll. CSU also defeated New Mexico in the Western Athletic Conference and beat No. 19 Missouri in the Holiday Bowl. The Rams only wore these jerseys for a year because the white jersey featured gold lettering, and it was too hard to read. 

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  • Colorado State quarterback Moses Moreno during a home game in the 1997 football season. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

2000s

Entering the new millennium, CSU has maintained a similar look compared to recent years, as the uniforms have not changed much since 2003. The materials are better now than they were, and that is the only reason the main uniforms look different now.

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  • Colorado State defensive line during the 2000 Rocky Mountain Showdown game vs. the University of Colorado. CSU won the game 28-24. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

  • Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt evades a University of Colorado defender during a Showdown game. (Courtesy of John Hirn, Athletic Historian for Colorado State University)

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The Homecoming game this Saturday will feature a new addition to the uniform, as the team will debut a new helmet featuring the Ram logo on the sides along with a stripe running vertically along the helmet.

Ryan Loberger and Tyler Meguire can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Lobergerryan and @TMeguire