During the football off-season, or more generally, the summertime, the HokieCentral.com message board usually gets cranked up at least several times about the topic of Virginia Tech's uniforms. It's already happened once, I believe, and it's just barely June! We've got several more uniform discussion sessions to get out of our bored systems before late August gets here! I'm just kidding, of course. However, I decided it was high time to take a detailed look back at the various and multiple versions of the Hokies uniforms over the the past decade, and compile the information and sample pictures into one handy reference source.
Between the football seasons of 1990-1999, the team's uniforms and appearance have changed somewhat dramatically, and with an amazing frequency. Part of this is due to the fact that Virginia Tech's used five different uniform manufacturers at some point in time during the decade: Russell Athletic, SportsBelle, Wilson, Starter, and Nike. Ultimately, this is a good thing, because with the success of the team, VT's finally become a "Nike School", with all the cache' and status that brings the program in the eyes of potential recruits. But, many of the changes in the 90's are also partly due to the program not being able to decide on a standard, consistent look for the team.
VT's tried stripes, solids, "busy" uni's, simplified uni's, maroon as the dominant color, orange as the dominant color, white helmet facemasks, maroon helmet facemasks, white shoes, black (both spray-painted and real) shoes; it just seems to go on and on. All in just ten years time.
Have we finally found a lasting "look" for our team? I don't know. I guess a lot of that may be up to Nike, our current sports equipment supplier. I will say this: I really hope we don't see this many changes to the appearance of the team from 2000-2009.
So, after researching Roanoke Times archives at the library, old Hokie Huddler's, old Maroon Books, Chris Colston's book "Hokies Handbook", as well as numerous other sources, I present a history of the Hokies' uniforms throughout the 90's. Photo credits are given where known. The credit for many of the pics are "unknown". If you happen to be the owner or copyright holder of a particular pic, please e-mail me and let me know, and I'll be glad to add the proper credits to it. Click on a picture "thumbnail" to view the full sized picture.
I would also like to specifically thank Virginia Tech Assistant Sports Information Director Dave Knachel for his assistance in locating some of the pictures used here, especially the early 90's pics. Dave has been photographing Virginia Tech sports for nearly 20 years, and has consistently produced high quality images. You can see his photography work regularly by subscribing to the Hokie Huddler.
Virginia Tech opened the first season of the new decade looking basically the same as they had in the first three seasons under Coach Beamer in the late 80's. Using Russell Athletic manufactured sports equipment, the Hokies uniforms consisted of a maroon jersey/white pant combination for home games, and a white/maroon combo for away games, with one notable exception at the end of the season.
The VT helmet was maroon with one orange and two white stripes, a white facemask, and outlined VT logos on both sides. The jerseys featured alternating sleeve stripes, and outlined shoulder numbers that matched the chest and back numbers in color combination. The pants featured stripes down each side of the leg, in one orange and two maroon stripes on the white home pant, and one orange and two white stripes on the maroon road pant. VT stayed with these combination sets until Nov. 25, 1990, when, for the first time since 1984, they donned a maroon jersey/maroon pant combo in the season finale vs. UVa. Additionally, many of the players spray-painted their white football cleats black before the game to portray a "meaner" image.
The Hokies blew out the Wahoos 38-13, leaving ESPN Analyst Mike Gottfried to quip, "I'm going to tell Coach Beamer to have them wear maroon all the time!" The all maroon look would be used several more times in the next few years, but the results weren't the same.
The look of the team basically remained the same in 1991 as it had been in 1990, still using Russell Athletic equipment. The "away" combo got a heavy work out early in the season, as the Hokies played 5 of their first 6 games of the season on the road. In an interesting note, the Hokies wore their home maroon jerseys in Orlando against Florida State in the fifth game of that torturous road trip, because the game had originally been scheduled to be a VT home game. The game was moved to Orlando by then-AD Dave Braine for financial reasons, but VT still remained the "home" team. To the best of my knowledge, that game remains the only time VT has ever worn maroon jerseys in a game in the state of Florida.
Virginia Tech tried the all maroon look again this season in a November 17, 1991 Lane Stadium home finale showdown with East Carolina, but the "magic" from the 1990 UVa game didn't carry over. The Pirates won 24-17. Sorry, but no picture was available.
For the 1992 season, the team continued to use Russell Athletic equipment, and stayed with the same combination formula as the previous two years. One noticeable change was the addition of the Virginia Tech 1892-1992 Centennial patch to the jerseys on the upper left chest/shoulder area.
The Hokies once again tried to grab the magic of the maroon/maroon combo in a game against West Virginia, but lost 16-7.
1993 began what I like to call our "experimentation years" under Coach Beamer, and would continue until the end of the 1994 season. The team's look and image seemed to be a bit "all over the place" during the next two seasons.
Virginia Tech wore football equipment manufactured by Russell Athletic in 1993, with the exception of the Independence Bowl jersey, which was manufactured by SportsBelle.
The helmets remained the same as they had been for previous years. The Russell maroon and white jerseys featured sleeve stripes, and shoulder numbers that matched the chest and back numbers. The standard white and maroon pants continued to feature the multiple stripes down the sides. With the exception of two regular season games, and the I-Bowl, VT used the standard Maroon/White combo at home, and the White/Maroon combo on the road.
However, in August of 1993, Coach Beamer had the idea to toss solid orange pants into the mix of combinations. In the Hokie Huddler (Vol. 11, No. 9), Beamer is credited with the idea and is quoted, "[VT Equipment Manager] Lester Karlin ordered orange workout shorts this year. In August, I was standing up in the tower, and I liked the way the shorts looked with the maroon practice jerseys. Schools like Illinois (and Syracuse) combine orange pants with blue tops all the time, and nobody thinks anything of it."
So, solid orange pants were ordered. The orange pants made their debut on October 24, 1993 against Rutgers at Lane Stadium when they were combined with the standard maroon jersey. The orange pants turned up again on the road against Boston College combined with the white jersey.
For the Independence Bowl, VT went with the orange pants, and wore an interesting jersey manufactured by SportsBelle. These white jerseys featured maroon numbers on the chest and back, but were also outlined in maroon. The I-Bowl patch was displayed on the right shoulder, and the Big East logo on the left. These jerseys also had the sleeve stripes, but no numbers on the shoulders.
1993 would mark the end of the striped pant for VT. From 1994 on, the team would use solid-colored pants with very little ornamentation.
years" under Coach Beamer continued in 1994 with the addition of a
second "home" jersey option, and the permanent adoption of a
The ultimate Hokie fashion statement was made on November 20, 1994, when for the first (and probably last) time in Virginia Tech history, the team wore orange pants with orange jerseys against UVa. The game was a total disaster resulting a huge defeat to the Wahoos. To quote HokieCentral.com's General Manager, Will Stewart (this quote appeared in a Stewart-penned letter to the editor of the Hokie Huddler), "The Hokies looked like a bunch of tangerines on the field, and UVa proceeded to beat the pulp out of them."
Following that game, Coach Beamer was quoted several times as saying the orange uniforms were history (actually, I think he said something about burning them). Sure enough, that was the end of the orange uniform "experiment."
For the Gator Bowl, the Hokies again wore a special white jersey designed by SportsBelle, that featured maroon numbers outlined in orange on the chest and back, and orange numbers on the top of the shoulders. The shoulder numbers were not outlined, and this would be a "look" of the future during the 1995 season. Additionally, the special SportsBelle Gator Bowl jersey removed the sleeve stripes in favor of one solid elastic maroon stripe at the tip of the sleeve.
For the 1995 season, Virginia Tech switched from Russell Athletic to Wilson manufactured uniforms, with the exception of the jersey for the Sugar Bowl, which was manufactured by SportsBelle.
The helmet stayed the same as previous years. The pant remained a solid featuring the VT logo on each hip, and for the first time, a solid maroon pant was introduced to take the place of the departed orange pants. The solid maroon pants made their debut at Pittsburgh, and turned up again at Navy, and in Washington D.C. when taking on the Temple Owls. For the other three road games at Rutgers, WVU, and Virginia, the White/White combo was used.
The Wilson jersey kept the sleeve stripes of previous years, and kept the chest and back numbers the same, but changed the shoulder numbers to orange without outline. In previous years, the shoulder number had been an outlined match of the chest and back number sets, but Wilson changed this for some reason. I don't know if it was requested to be that way, but I personally never cared for that look much. Without the shoulder numbers being outlined, it didn't look "professionally" made to me. It seemed like the orange shoulder numbers were an afterthought that were just ironed-on later.
That changed, however, for the Sugar Bowl, when the team went with a special white jersey designed by SportsBelle, that was different from the Wilson version, in that the alternating sleeve stripes were removed, and the orange shoulder numbers were outlined in maroon, creating a less "busy" and more "professionally manufactured" looking jersey.
The "Starter Years" began with the 1996 season. The helmet and pant remained the same as the previous season, but Starter gave the VT jersey a much needed overhaul.
First up, Starter created a jersey with a vertical "striping" effect, using alternating solid fabric and heavy mesh fabric. The colorations of the jerseys and numbers, including their outlines, were basically the same, but Starter dropped the "busy" sleeve stripes and the un-outlined orange numbers on the top of the shoulders in favor of a set of numbers on the "outer" shoulder sleeve.
Curiously, Starter went with an orange number outlined in white for the maroon jersey, and an orange number outlined in maroon for the white jersey, when the chest and back numbers for these were in white and maroon, respectively. I've always considered that look to be a little "bush-league". I like the placement of the shoulder numbers and the fact that they are outlined, but I've always felt these numbers needed to match the chest and back numbers in their color combination. However, this style must be well received with the coaches and the team, because the same alternating color schemes are used in later years by another manufacturer, so that leads me to believe it was requested that way.
The Hokies used the alternate away combination of White/Maroon three times in 1996: at Akron, at Boston College, and at Syracuse. All home games were the standard Maroon/White combo, and the other road game, at Miami, was the white/white combo.
The only noticeable change made for the Orange Bowl was the addition of the Orange Bowl logo on the right upper chest/shoulder area.
Things pretty much remained the same in 97 as had been in 1996. The only real deviation in 97 was the limited use of the maroon pant on the road. Virginia Tech only used the White/Maroon combination once this season, at Pittsburgh. All other games were played using the standard home combination of Maroon/White, and the standard road combo of White/White.
The only change made for the Gator Bowl was the addition of the Gator Bowl patch on the right front shoulder.
1998 began the "Nike Years" for Virginia Tech's football program. The Starter "striped" look of the jerseys was tossed, and Nike's "solid" look was in.
The big change of the year, along with the new Nike equipment, was the change in the helmet. The VT rising seniors that season requested a change, and the staff agreed to do it. The Riddell helmet was changed to a solid maroon, with no stripes, and a maroon face-mask. "Hokies" was printed on the front white pad, and "Big East" on the back white pad.
The Nike jerseys featured the same color combinations as the Starter jerseys from 96-97. The "old style" Big East patch was removed, and a new triangular NCAA logo appeared on the right front shoulder. The Nike pant continued to feature the VT logo on each hip, and for the first time since the 1992 season, VT wore a Maroon/Maroon combo at home in games against WVU and UVa. The old "maroon/maroon" magic worked for the WVU game for a 27-13 win, but not the UVa game, a 36-29 loss.
The only noticeable difference in the uniforms for the Music City Bowl was the addition of the Music City Bowl patch to the upper right front shoulder, and the movement of the NCAA logo to the middle of the jersey, just above the front numbers.
In the second season of the Nike contract for the VT football team, a few small revisions were made to the look of the uniforms, and the team went through the entire season with one consistent combination for the entire year: Maroon/White at home and White/White on the road.
The helmets switched the "Big East" logo on the back white pad to the front, and moved the word "Hokies" from the front to the back. The new Nike jerseys moved the NCAA Big East triangular logo to the center, just above the chest numbers, and the new Nike white pant featured an embroidered "TECH" on the right upper thigh, just below the beltline. The Nike logo on the pant remained on the left upper thigh, just below the beltline. For the home maroon jerseys, I believe Nike found a "truer" Chicago Maroon fabric that appeared, at least to my eyes, to be more maroon and less purple than the 1998 version.
For the Sugar Bowl, the only noticeable change was the addition of the Sugar Bowl logo on the right front shoulder.