The BYU fight song goes “loyal, strong and true, wear the white and blue.” While the song itself does not specify what shade of blue the “loyal, strong and true” should wear, after three dominating wins for BYU football against Navy, Troy and Louisiana Tech while wearing the bold, lively royal uniforms, it’s apparent going back to navy is a bit of a letdown.
According to the BYU equipment Twitter page, BYU will be donning navy tops with white pants for their fourth game of the year against UT-San Antonio on Saturday at 1:30pm MDT.
The comments to this tweet should say it all.
That announcement wouldn’t be anything noteworthy if you aren’t a diehard BYU fan, since the Cougars have been wearing navy uniforms since 1999 after wearing royal every year before then since 1970. BYU did not wear royal again until a throwback night in 2009 against Utah, when BYU won an overtime thriller, the last time they defeated the Utes.
Once again, royal went on the shelf until, in 2013, the Cougars revealed a more modern take on the royal uniforms that included a sharp, chrome face mask and helmet decal in 2013 for the Utah game.
Between 2013 and 2016, the new, “chrome” royal look made an appearance just once or twice a year. Then in 2017, there was clearly a shift, perhaps due to the new head coach’s preference as Kalani Sitake was entering year two with a bit more ability to pull some strings.
Though it was one of the worst seasons in BYU football history, BYU looked sharp on the field in 2017. They donned royal three times, first in the Superdome against LSU, then against Utah at home, then against Utah State in Logan.
The trend continued in 2018 as they bumped it up to four times, including two non-home games, one against Utah in Salt Lake and the other in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, when they wore all-royal on the blue turf in Boise in a big bowl win.
In 2019, it was clear royal became the preferred choice by head coach Kalani Sitake as the team not only wore their traditional royal uniforms but they rolled out two separate royal-based alternates. First, they had a throwback game against Washington where fans got a first look at a white top with royal trim and a throwback lid. It was a sharp look despite the blowout loss to the Huskies.
Then, for the first time in the modern era, BYU took the field wearing white in a road game against Utah State, but not with navy, but royal numbers and stripes along with the chrome royal decals on a white helmet. This is my personal favorite look BYU has ever played with. It doesn’t hurt that in the two times they have worn that all-white set, they have had dominating wins over Utah State and Navy. The phrase “look good, play good” might be true after all.
All in all, the Cougars wore royal instead of navy in seven of its 13 games in 2019.
This year, BYU is off to a scorching start, winning their first three games each by at least 31 points and earning their highest ranking (15th) since 2009. They did all this while wearing royal each time. In the COVID world, BYU has had more eye balls on them than ever, with no one else west of Texas playing major college football.
Royal is clearly preferred by the coaches, players, most students and recruits. It just pops off the screen. It’s easy to identify in a crowd of people. Multiple times in an airport or amusement park, I have been able to see fellow BYU fans from afar with a royal hat or shirt. In navy, BYU blends in with seemingly 40 or 50 other schools and professional teams.
Navy blue belongs in Logan with Utah State and on a national stage, Penn State — not at BYU. It doesn’t pop and it isn’t unique.
Now, this is not to say BYU should completely ditch navy as a school color. It goes well with many outfits, if you are one to worry about such a thing. It’s easy to wear and is professional and conservative. But on the football field? It’s time to ditch the boring, unexciting shade of blue and embrace a brash, bold color with this team that plays just as well as it looks in royal.