An ode to the crop top jersey, now banned by the NCAA

The latest NCAA rules committee meeting brought with it nine new rules and/or rule changes to college footballand one notable "point of emphasis." Among the nine new rules is this:

Officials will treat illegal equipment issues — such as jerseys tucked under the shoulder pads or exposed back pads — by making the player leave the field for at least one play. The equipment must be corrected for the player to return to the game. The player may remain in the game if his team takes a timeout to correct the equipment issue.

You can consider this rule the death of the crop top jersey.

The crop top was already an endangered species, one that flourished in the 1980s and had slowly crept towards extinction since the late 90s. However, there was a revitalization of the crop top jersey in progress, led by guys like Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott and Baylor's Shawn Oakman — whose appearance at the Cotton Bowl coin toss with his jersey pulled up quickly became one of Twitter's favorite memes.

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State

The crop top was making a comeback and was serving as motivation for some to get in better shape. Now, the NCAA's taken it away, and it hurts, just ask Ohio State's Tyvis Powell.

Few things in modern college football are a direct reminder of the past. There are those few relics that remain — most notably the few teams that still operate the triple option — but the crop top was one of those things that immediately hearkened back to memories of college football in the 80s and early 90s. The look was ever popular in the 80s and early 90s, and was an iconic look. Elliott, lined up in the Ohio State backfield with the half jersey, immediately brought back memories of Eddie George, who wore the same look on his way to the 1995 Heisman Trophy.

Just look at those Miami teams of the 80s.


But now, that's all gone.

Crop tops were always something unique to college football, a look only found in the amateur ranks as the NFL has always been so stringent on uniform guidelines. As Paul Lukas, proprietor of Uni Watch, told Vice Sports last year, "College football has always had a few things [like the crop top] that mark it as being visually different from pro football." Jerseys are no longer cut short as they used to, where the crop top was the actual jersey cut, but the tucked look under the additional pads players wear now still provided a similar throwback look.

There's also a strategy to wearing the crop top, as the tucked jersey offers less to grab, as one can not latch on to an exposed midriff. Even so, it feels like a rather minor advantage and the crop top gave players a rare chance to express themselves and have a unique look on the football field.

The crop top jersey was also a reminder of the human element of the game, as if to show that under the armor of helmets, pads and jerseys, there were still people under there with their own armor of muscles — or girth, depending.

Now, the crop top is banished to the sidelines to be untucked and conform to standard. The endangered species is now extinct, thanks to the poachers of fun and individuality that the NCAA has become.

The crop top is dead. Long live the crop top.