Cal Uni Countdown: Three and the Tree

Could the new Cal re-branding effort bring back some elements of this instant classic which put the fear of gold into a Super Bowl-winning quarterback?

Cal Uni Countdown: Polar Bear Checks in at No. 10
Cal Uni Countdown: Far From Cloud Nine
Cal Uni Countdown: The Ocho
Cal Uni Countdown: Lucky Number Seven
Cal Uni Countdown: Gold Reserves Check in at No. 6
Cal Uni Countdown: High Five
Cal Uni Countdown: Four on the Floor


With just four days left until the California athletic department unveils its new unified branding campaign including new football uniforms, we're down to our No. 3 uniform in the Cal Uni Countdown, and while simple, this one became an instant classic on Nov. 20, 1982.


The Play. (AP Photo/Oakland Tribune/Robert Stinnett)

All right, here we go with the kickoff. Harmon will probably try to squib it and he does. The ball comes loose and the Bears have to get out of bounds. Rodgers is along the sideline, another one ... they're still in deep trouble at midfield, they tried to do a couple of--the ball is still loose, as they get it to Rodgers! They get it back now to the 30, they're down to the 20 ... Oh, the band is out on the field! He's gonna go into the end zone! He's gone into the end zone!

Will it count? The Bears have scored, but the bands are out on the field! There were flags all over the place. Wait and see what happens; we don't know who won the game. There are flags on the field. We have to see whether or not the flags are against Stanford or Cal. The Bears may have made some illegal laterals. It could be that it won't count. The Bears, believe it or not, took it all the way into the end zone. If the penalty is against Stanford, California would win the game. If it is not, the game is over and Stanford has won.

We've heard no decision yet. Everybody is milling around on the field! And the Bears! The Bears have won! The Bears have won! Oh, my God! The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending ... exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football! California has won the Big Game over Stanford! Oh, excuse me for my voice, but I have never, never seen anything like it in the history of I have ever seen any game in my life! The Bears have won it! There will be no extra point!

Why it worked

The 1982 team is most famous for The Play, and for those of you unfamiliar with that moment in history (who am I kidding? You can't ever watch it too many times), you can refresh your memory here.

Simple. Beautiful. Classic. Even in black and white, iconic. As the kids would say these days, they were clean.

Bright gold pants. Un-adorned blue top. Black spikes with white spats. And you can't go wrong with the short-cropped jerseys of the 1980s and the gold numerals outlined in white.

No matter what happens in the future of Golden Bears football, these are the uniforms with which the program will always be synonymous. It ensured Cal finished with a winning record, and dashed the bowl hopes of John Elway and the Cardinal.

Why it didn't

What's that you say? West Virginia wore almost the exact same uniforms in 1986? Damn it. Yet again, the Mountaineers ruin a good thing.

Devil in the details

Some might think the whole simple look is too out-dated. But, sometimes, the classics can look pretty spiffy when given the right modern spice.

What stick out about this uniform, though, are the little things. First off, it was the first time that the Bears had ever used names on the back of their football jerseys.

Starting in 1982, Cal introduced new helmet art, in the form of a bear paw with the Cal script embedded in the center. It was the second time in school history that a graphic (not text or a number) appeared on the side of the Bears helmet.

The new shells also include a small "100" below the script, to note the centennial of the first Bears rugby team, which eventually morphed into the Cal football program in 1886 (in 1882, the version of football played on campus more closely resembled rugby).

From 1983 to 1986, the "100" would be removed, but the rest of the helmet design remained the same. In 1984, a white outline was added to the claw and the Cal script inside of it, and in 1985, a blue outline was added inside the white.

Gorce-stradamus Says

Based on the blurry video we've seen, it's not exactly clear what's going to be on the new helmets. It could very well still be the Cal script, but it could just as easily be the famous bear claw, and as we've already noted, if the Bears ever get the call to be part of NIKE's Pro Combat battalion, that could be pretty nifty. Given that one of the taglines for the campaign is Respect the Past, it wouldn't be going too far afield to say that a resurrection of the bear claw is a distinct possibility.

In an earlier video, Jason Kidd mentioned a bear on the under sleeves, and we have yet to see any gold pants, but NIKE doesn't do anything halfway, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the lemon legwear come along with the blue and the white bottoms. Top Stories