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Dartmouth Football Uniforms Through the Decades (Video, Graphics)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
There was some buzz over the Dartmouth College football team’s uniforms after the Big Green added a touch of gray to its traditional look this season. The classic green and white was augmented with gray helmets and pants, which are used on an alternate basis.

But this isn’t the first time Dartmouth has gone “off the board” with nontraditional colors on its garb. Let’s take a trip back in time and examine the Big Green’s uniform history. (Follow along with the graphics at the top of the page.)

∎ When Earl “Red” Blaik coached the Big Green in the 1930s, his team was adorned in funky green-and-gold-striped helmets and gold pants. In fact, you can see a few clips of the team playing Cornell in 1938 in living color at the YouTube video above.

∎ By the 1940s, Blaik was winning national championships at Army and new Dartmouth coach DeOrmond “Tuss” McLaughry outfitted the team in gray pants and helmets. The number of helmet stripes was reduced from eight to four.

∎ The most dramatic overhaul came with the arrival of legendary coach Bob Blackman in 1955. The gray leather helmets were ditched in favor of white plastic shells, and the gray pants also faded to white. The jersey numbers were enlarged and were adorned with more stripes, especially on the white versions. Over the next several years, the block numbers were replaced with a curved Clarendon font (think UCLA football).

∎ In 1965, the iconic Dartmouth helmet was born: the big “D” in front, surrounded by two pairs of swooping stripes. According to the 2007 Dartmouth media guide: “Blackman … sought a unique source of pride to identify Dartmouth’s successful football team. He found the answer in a helmet design that became as much a trademark for Dartmouth football as the famed ‘winged’ helmet design that Fritz Crisler brought to Michigan from Princeton in 1938.”

The white jersey was also revamped, as block numbers returned and oversize numbers were placed on the shoulders. Each sleeve featured a Native American image, which in the 1970s was replaced by a “D” following the abolition of the “Indians” mascot.

Curiously, the green jersey stayed the same throughout the 1960s, except for the addition of shoulder numbers. In 1970, the green jerseys became the mirror image of the white shirts.

∎ In 1978, Joe Yukica became coach and the uniform was noticeably stripped down. Black trim made its debut.

∎ In 1987, new coach Buddy Teevens made the biggest overhaul since the ’50s: The classic “D” helmet was replaced with a not-so-classic “Dartmouth” on the side, a look that stayed until 1999. Names were added to the backs, a feature that stuck around through the mid-90s on the white shirts and 2002 on the home greens.

∎ Fast-forward to 2003, and perhaps the gaudiest Dartmouth uniform to date: Green shirts with black trim — and black pants. The uniforms were bought with help from former Big Green-turned-Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler.

“They are sharp,” then-coach John Lyons told the Valley News in 2003. “The kids really like them.”

∎ By 2005, Teevens was back as coach and the black pants were gone, no matter how much the kids may have liked them. But the new uniform, with a big “DARTMOUTH” splashed across the jersey front to go with green pants, made the players look like Jolly Green Giants. By 2007, white pants had been phased back in.

∎ The 2009-13 uniform offered a simpler look, and the current uniforms have a new feature: a tree logo on the sleeves, tying into the school’s “Into the Woods” marketing video played before home games. The gray helmets and pants are different, but don’t distract from the basic look.

But don’t get used to it: Word is that the Big Green will do another fade to black next season, with black jerseys and pants.

Posted to the Upper Valley Dispatch blog Thursday at 10:25 a.m. All graphics by Dave Bailey.

Dave Bailey is an editor on the Valley News night desk. He also chronicles the history of college football uniforms in New England (and a few other places) at

Follow the Valley News on Twitter @VNewsUV and keep up to date with Upper Valley sports news with the hashtag #vnsports.

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