No sartorial choice by the Florida Gators has been better-received this millennium — or more beckoned-for since — than the 2006 donning of 1960s-era throwbacks.
Nearly 13 years later, Gator Nation is getting a wish granted: This Saturday, the Gators are wearing nearly the same retro uniforms against Auburn.
There is an impressive level of commitment to the detail for this outfit, which features a white helmet with an encircled F logo and a solid orange stripe up the middle, a blue jersey with white and orange shoulder stripes, white pants with blue and orange stripes, white crew socks with blue stripes, and black shoes.
That look is not precisely one that Florida wore in halcyon years. Even one of the Gators’ own pictures showing a past getup includes solid blue jerseys with no stripes and a different helmet with additional blue stripes and no circle.
It mixes and matches some elements from the 1950s (the helmet includes details from both decades) and 1960s (the jersey, pants, and shoes are taken from Steve Spurrier’s playing days) to create a new, retro-seeming look — if one that, cool socks and classic black cleats aside, matches the 2006 look almost precisely from the neck down.
And even though Florida seems to be saying it’s aiming to replicate the 1965 uniform in at least one tweet heralding these uniforms, replicating that faux-retro 2006 look almost exactly is the smartest move the Gators could have made. Those (and these) uniforms incorporate some of the most classic elements of football uniform design ever (the shoulder stripes, especially, are marvelous), were gorgeous on the beautiful day they were worn, and are beloved in part because Gators made sure on the field that would be remembered fondly, downing Alabama in them and then going on to win a national championship that season.
Florida redeploying them now, with those duds’ Nike swooshes replaced by Jordan Jumpman logos, is bound to be well-received by almost all of Gator Nation (curmudgeons exist) even if it was largely telegraphed this summer and fall by the release of the jerseys and other throwback apparel for purchase and a mysterious lack of directions for ticket-holders on the tickets for this Auburn game, which is also serving as Florida’s Homecoming.
But I cannot overstate just how intense the desire for Florida wearing these beloved pseudo-retros has been for years, including my own — and I’m proponent of the idea that the Gators should wear them for every Homecoming game. Wearing them for a rare home and Homecoming game against ancient rival Auburn — the foe that Spurrier memorably took down five decades ago — is the easiest layup for pleasing fans that the program has been presented in recent memory, and the lack of surprise doesn’t mitigate my joy for this revival one bit.
It also helps that, as fate would have it, Florida is currently being quarterbacked by Kyle Trask, who happens to be wearing Spurrier’s No. 11.
On Saturday, Florida is going to be the best-looking team in college football for one day.
And if the Gators are as good at the game as they will look playing it...