3 Helmets, 3 Jerseys, 4 Pants, 8 Combinations
"M over S" Logo Worn on Football Helmets for First Time Ever
For the first time in program history, Mississippi State wore the “M over S” logo on its football helmets in 2021. They did so in the homecoming victory over Kentucky, during which the 2021 National Championship baseball team was honored and presented with their National Championship rings. Mississippi State’s baseball team has worn the iconic “M over S” since 1968, but it has remained almost entirely exclusive to the one sport- until now.
Historically, Mississippi State has worn a number of varying football helmet designs, with multiple iterations of an interlocking “MSU” logo, a ridiculous amount of variations of the “M-State” logo, a simple staggered “MS”, player numbers, Bulldog head logos, the “Flying M”, and even a unique “Statesman” design in 2018. Now, the “M over S” logo joins that list, with a pristine 1-0 record to boot.
Mississippi State’s most consistent helmet design over the last 7 seasons has been its white helmet. From 2015 to 2019, while the Bulldogs iterated through many different maroon helmet variations, the white helmets remained essentially unchanged, with a matte white base, white facemasks, no stripe, and a highly reflective / chrome M-State logo.
In 2020, that design finally changed, as Mississippi State wore “Flying M” throwbacks on Homecoming that featured the white helmet design worn from 1969 to 1971, with gray facemasks, a single maroon stripe, and the “Flying M” logo. Later that season, in the Egg Bowl, Mississippi State once again wore white helmets, keeping the gray facemasks and single maroon stripe but swapping in the “M-State” logo, this time with a standard, non-chrome decal.
In 2021, the white helmet design from 2015-2019 was essentially brought back, with the stripe removed and white facemasks returning. However, the non-chrome decals from the 2020 Egg Bowl remained, making the 2021 design unique in that respect.
The 2021 design is the best of both worlds, as the stripe-less design flows better with the rest of the Bulldogs’ uniform set while, along with the white facemasks and non-chrome decals, keeping consistency with the Bulldogs’ primary glossy maroon helmets. I did hate to lose the gray facemasks from 2020, which I thought looked really good and worked well with the rest of State’s uniform set, which heavily features gray as an accent color. But the all-white look is super clean as well.
When they travelled to Vanderbilt in October, Mississippi State paired white helmets with white jerseys and maroon pants the first time since 2008- 13 seasons ago. The White-White-Maroon look was a popular one under Sylvester Croom; it was worn 11 times (to a 3-8 record) from 2006 to 2008, becoming one of the most recognizable looks from that era. Prior to 2006, the combination had not been worn since 1953- it was actually a fairly common look for the Mississippi State Maroons in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s.
In the context of the Bulldogs’ current uniform set, the White-White-Maroon look was actually very sharp. It’s not one that I necessarily expected to see the field, but I’m glad that it did. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Mississippi State crushed Vanderbilt 45-6 in it.
This was actually the second time that Mississippi State had paired white helmets and white jerseys with non-white pants in the current uniform set; they also did so in the 2018 Egg Bowl, when they defeated Ole Miss 35-3 in White-White-Gray. Combined, Mississippi State has outscored opponents 80-9 when wearing white helmets and white jerseys with non-white pants in the current uniform set
With White-White-Maroon finally seeing the field, 16 of the 18 possible combinations of Mississippi State’s current uniform set, which debuted in 2018, have seen the field. The only two remaining combinations are (Glossy) Maroon-White-Gray and White-Maroon-Gray. I’m actually disappointed that M-W-G hasn’t seen the field yet with the current maroon helmets; I think it would be a really sharp look. It probably should have been worn either at Arkansas or Auburn in 2021; hopefully it finally sees the field in 2022. W-M-G, on the other hand, would feel really disjointed- there’s a good reason it hasn’t made it to reality.
For the first time in the Mike Leach era, Mississippi State wore gray pants when they hosted LSU in 2021. Paired with the glossy maroon helmets and maroon jerseys, the gray pants looked as great as ever when they finally made their return. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs did not have their best that day, and lost at home to a down LSU team. I hope this didn’t brand the gray pants as bad luck- but they weren’t worn again for the rest of the season.
I noted in last season’s season recap- which recapped a season in which gray pants were not worn at all- that Mississippi State needed to either wear the gray pants more often or re-think their usage of gray throughout its uniforms. Sadly, that position hasn’t really changed much, as the Bulldogs have now only worn gray pants once in 24 games under Leach.
The way Mississippi State uses gray as an accent color- essentially just as the middle stripe on the maroon and white elements- makes sense if gray pants are a common piece of the rotation. But if gray pants are going to be sparsely, if ever, worn, it would make things a big cleaner to take a note from the maroon helmets and go with a simple maroon and white design, especially on the maroon elements, where the light gray stripe can get lost in-between two white stripes.
It’s not as if the gray accents are necessary to make the gray pants work either- they still looked great in 2015 and 2016 paired with jerseys that featured no gray at all, so even if we were to remove the gray accents from the other jerseys and pants, I would still be greatly in favor of keeping gray pants in the mix. Overall, I’m happy with where Mississippi State’s football uniforms are at right now- they’re clean and consistent across the board, and there’s no reason to go and mess that up if you don’t have to. This is just something to consider if gray pants are indeed going to continue to be worn less frequently.
For the second time in program history, Mississippi State wore gray jerseys as part of their yearly alternate uniform from Adidas in 2021. These gray jerseys had a darker, slightly blue-tinted gray as a base color with white and maroon accents. They featured a fairly simple design, with no stripes or anything of that nature. Just white numbers outlined in maroon on the front, back, and top of the shoulders, maroon collars and sleeve cuffs, and a maroon “M-State” logo on the chest outlined in white. They were paired with pants of the same dark gray color (with “Bulldogs” running down the leg) and the standard glossy maroon helmets.
As far as alternates go, these were the definition of “middle of the pack.” They were a part of Adidas’s “Reverse Retro” program, but there was nothing really reverse or retro about them- the closest comparison I can come up with is the similarly simple design worn under Sylvester Croom from 2004 to 2008, but even those are a bit of a stretch, and the university never made any mention of that connection. In fact, the university made as little promotion of these as I’ve ever seen for an alternate uniform. They were “leaked” by Adidas when they revealed their aforementioned “Reverse Retro” lineup near the start of the season, but were never acknowledged officially by the university until the week that they were set to be worn against Tennessee State. Even then- it was just a tweet with a few pictures and not an article or video explaining the uniform’s inspirations.
It’s almost as if the university knew these weren’t good and wanted to bring as little attention to them as possible. Which- along with the lack of any clear inspiration or historical connection- really makes these seem like they were almost entirely designed by Adidas with minimal input from the school, which is disappointing given the excellent string of alternates that Mississippi State had worn over the past few seasons. Hopefully, this is just an exception, and next year we’ll be back to thoughtful, well designed alternates. For more, here’s a Twitter thread from the day after they were worn with my thoughts about this year’s alternates.
Despite their generic design, Mississippi State had no issue pulling off the win in the all-gray alternates, defeating Tennessee State 55-10. The Bulldogs are now 2-0 all-time when wearing gray jerseys and have won 6 straight in alternate uniforms, dating back to 2018.
For the first time since 2011 (!), Mississippi State only wore two helmet shells in 2021: glossy maroon and matte white. Three total designs were worn, as the maroon helmets were worn with M over S logo decals for one game. Otherwise, the maroon helmets were worn with the standard M-State logo decals for 9 games, while the white helmets were worn in three games to an undefeated 3-0 record.
Maroon: 9 games. 3-6 (.333) Record
White: 3 games. 3-0 (1.000) Record
Maroon (M over S): 1 game. 1-0 (1.000) Record
The Bulldogs wore three jersey designs in 2021: the standard maroon and white jerseys and the alternate gray jerseys.
Maroon: 7 games. 3-4 (.429) Record
White: 5 games. 3-2 (.600) Record
Gray: 1 game. 1-0 (1.000) Record
Mississippi State wore four pants designs in 2021: the standard maroon, white, and gray pants and the alternate gray alternate pants.
White: 7 games. 5-2 (.714) Record
Maroon: 4 games. 1-3 (.250) Record
Gray (Alternate): 1 game. 1-0 (1.000) Record
Gray: 1 game. 0-1 (.000) Record
The Bulldogs wore 8 combinations in 2021, up one from 2020 (7). This was actually the first time that State had ever worn exactly 8 combinations in a season; historically, they've worn as few as 2 and as many as 10 combinations in a given season.
Maroon-Maroon-White: 4 games. 2-2 (.500) Record
White-White-White: 2 games. 2-2 (1.000) Record
Maroon-White-Maroon: 2 games. 0-2 (.000) Record
Maroon (M over S)-Maroon-White: 1 game. 1-0 (1.000) Record
Maroon-Gray-Gray: 1 game. 1-0 (1.000) Record
White-White-Maroon: 1 game. 1-0 (1.000) Record
Maroon-Maroon-Gray: 1 game. 0-1 (.000) Record
Maroon-Maroon-Maroon: 1 game. 0-1 (.000) Record
After the season concluded, I conducted a series of twitter polls to determine which look from the 2021 season was the fan favorite. The first poll, to determine which helmet logo was more popular with the Maroon-Maroon-White combination, was won by the "M over S" logo. The second poll, to determine the best combination involving maroon helmets and maroon jerseys but non-maroon pants, was won by Maroon-Maroon-Gray. The third poll, determining the best combination involving white jerseys and maroon pants, was won by Maroon-White-Maroon. The fourth poll, determining which non-traditional look featuring matching jerseys and pants was better, was won by White-White-White.
In the two semifinal polls, "M over S"-Maroon-White defeated Maroon-Maroon-Gray for the best home combination and White-White-White defeated Maroon-White-Maroon for the best road combination. In the championship poll, the "M over S"-Maroon-White look defeated White-White-White 57.8% to 42.4%, taking home the title of the fan favorite uniform combination for 2021.
Overall, 2021 was a very solid year for Mississippi State's football uniforms. It was the first year in a very long time that there weren't any major changes to the Bulldogs' uniform lineup or selection, and that consistency is really nice to see. Since 2016, State's uniform designs has evolved from a jumbled mess to a very clean and consistent set that fits in nicely with all of the other classic looks throughout the SEC.
As far as what can be improved in 2022- I still have a lot of the same notes that I had at the end of last year's season recap and have re-iterated throughout this year's. I would still like for gray pants to be worn more often. Once in 24 games is not enough for such a great look. I still think that the usage of gray throughout the uniform set could be re-evaluated, especially if gray pants are going to continue to be worn infrequently. This is more of an athletic department wide idea than just football, but I think it's time to also re-evaluate what logo/wordmark should be on the front chest above the numbers. It definitely feels like time to explore ditching the banner wordmark in favor of something new- I like the idea of a simple block "STATE." This is a nitpick, but the next time we get the opportunity to change the M-State logo on the maroon pants to feature a maroon M with a white banner and outline to match the maroon helmets, we should do so. Finally, we need to get back on the right track with alternates in 2022. After three years of great alternates, 2021 was certainly a step back. I expect 2022 to make up for it big time, perhaps with a modern, one-off alternate with a great design and inspiration, or- dreaming big- maybe even a details-accurate '90s throwback, interlocking MSU included? If you want to take a page from No Way Home and go all-in on the fan service while also delivering a fantastic product, that would certainly be the way to go. Whatever the alternate(s) for 2022 is, I have faith that we'll be back to the thoughtful, well designed alternates that we'd seen from 2018 to 2020.
That does it for the 2021 Football Uniforms recap! Be sure to follow @HailStateUnis on Twitter for coverage of the uniforms worn during the 2022 football season this fall! Hail State!