Cal Uni Countdown: Gold Reserves

In the fall of 1964, the Free Speech Movement wasn't the only thing stirring in Berkeley, as the Cal football team introduced a classic helmet to go along with a timeless uniform.

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Fight for Big C. Every California freshman learns it. Every alumnus knows it by heart. I actually have a pretty solid view of the rugged Eastern foothills from my bedroom window. It's the oldest logo that the University of California has. It's on softball uniforms, baseball caps dating back further than Clint Evans, crew tanks and basketball shorts. And it used to be on football helmets, even before there was an actual Big C (1898).

So, without further ado, we finish out the first half of our countdown with the Big C uniform.


A player stands on the sidelines in 1970. (Courtesy Cal Athletics)

Why it worked

Look at it. Just look at it. Gaze upon glory and magnificence. Just take a gander at that magnificent bastard sitting on top of that man's head. It's glorious. It's simple, it's elegant, it's shiny. For years, people have gotten too attached to the Cal script, and frankly, it's a fairly recent addition to the Golden Bears' graphic identity. The C has been up on that hill for 108 years. The first time the Cal script showed up on a Cal helmet was in 1978. Even Joe Roth wore a variant of the Big C.

No, this look didn't last long (1964-1971), but just sit there and think for a moment what kind of precedent it sets. Instead of the mustardy yellow the Bears have worn for years, what if Cal switched to true, Vegas gold? Gold pants, sparkling gold numbers, hell, I'll even allow some gaudy footwear, and, to cap it all off, a modernized version of this. With new materials, there wouldn't be any danger of this thing flying off because it's just a sticker.

Why it didn't

40-42. No matter how good these teams looked, they were painfully mediocre. The only decent season Cal had during the time these helmets and uniforms were worn was 1968, when the Bears went 7-3. The rest of that time, they didn't win more than six games, and that happened twice, in 1971 and 1972. It's sad really, that such a good look would be wasted on bad teams.

Devil in the Details

I've spent all this time gushing about the helmet that I've almost completely forgotten the actual uniform. Notice the color of the sleeve band and the numbers themselves: It's not yellow. It's gold. Not as gold as the C, mind you, but it's gold. It's a richer color than what Cal teams wear these days, and while closer to Vegas gold than athletic gold, it's not the same kind of washed-out gold the little brothers wear. The blue, like the zebra stripe uniforms, is very, very deep – almost black. Those are Cal's real colors, not the nearly-purple and yellow the Bears wear now.

Gorce-stradamus Says

Judging by the blurry teases we've seen, there won't be any Vegas gold in Cal's near future, but what about using the block C? We know it's at least been considered. Just imagine the possibilities with more reflective, more resilient materials. Top Stories