Opinion: Did team colors help UGA score big win?

An artist says warm colors can triumph over cooler hues in our minds.

As I pondered the key factors in the University of Georgia’s dominant 65-7 win over TCU in the 2023 national collegiate title football game, I thought the pundits may have overlooked something.

Why did Georgia handily defeat TCU?

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

I would argue it was not because of the great game plan or more experienced coaching staff at Georgia. It was not TCU’s failure to cover Brock Bowers, who lit up TCU with 7 catches, 152 yards and a touchdown.

While former walk-on QB Stetson Bennett, who has led the Georgia Bulldogs to back-to-back national titles, had another outstanding game, he wasn’t the deciding factor, either. Georgia was clearly better prepared and toughened by a grueling SEC schedule and nail-biting playoff semifinal win over Ohio State.

Was that the difference?

Nope.

On the TCU side, it wasn’t the fault of its defense, which allowed 38 points in the first half (and 65 for the game) along with 589 yards of total offense from Georgia. Nor was it attributable to an offense that produced only 189 yards and a season-low 7 points.

No, the outcome was decided well before kickoff -- at least for those with a keen eye for color.

That’s because TCU’s uniform colors of purple and white are cool, while the University of Georgia colors of red and black are warm.

By cool, I don’t mean hip.

A cool color contains some blue in its mix. The TCU purple, consisting mostly of blue with a small amount of red, is often linked to a deity in a religious context. It makes us feel calm and relaxed. That’s not the best feeling to have when competing against the nation’s No. 1 college football team -- in a football stadium with 72,000-plus screaming fans.

What happens when you combine purple with white? White is perceived as cold and bland, much like the TCU offense that night. It’s also associated with delicate, pure and calm -- attributes that don’t threaten a swarming Georgia defense.

Compare that to the Georgia colors of red and black. As a warm color, red is among the longest wavelengths on the color spectrum. Warm colors advance toward the eye, while cool colors recede. Warm colors are evocative of fire. It’s an active color that evokes movement and strong emotions.

And the color black? The association here is strength and elegance, a color choice often embraced by high-end brands that give off feelings of power, authority and prestige.

What to make of all this?

Simply put, a team driven by power, sun and fire will overwhelm an opponent that appears delicate, bland and calm.

That’s something the experts missed. When analyzing this game, you can throw out the standard metrics, matchups and strategies.

If you were to switch uniforms and have these teams play again, TCU could pull off an upset. Or at the very least, gain more than 200 yards in total offense.

Cathy Locke is a Novato, Calif.-based figurative artist, writer and lecturer who knows little about football but a lot about color. You can see her work at cathylocke.com.