Nebraska’s new uniforms

Keeping up with the Oregon's of the world

By now you've heard the biggest news to come out of the spring thus far: Nebraska is yielding to the overall trend for chameleonism on the gridiron and will wear a special, one-off jersey at some point next seasion.

I like to think of myself as a sort of authority on this matter, so of course I think I have something to add but before I do, let me tell you about how much I like Kenny Bell.

Kenny Bell is probably the most engaging person on the Nebraska football team. When I talk to him as a reporter I always come away wishing I could simply talk to him as a person. That's a very rare feeling to be born out of a conversation between two people who are essentially "working." Most conversations any of us have amount to little more than verbal tennis. Interviews with Kenny Bell are almost never that way. I'm interested in his perspective on the world because he seems to always be considering his perspective on the world. He talks about ideas, not events, and that's about the highest praise I can heap on him.

I mention this because Bell had an interesting take on the idea of Nebraska's of-the-moment move to an alternate jersey. You'll see and read snippets of this elsewhere but, as an unrepentent uniform geek, I wanted to include it all:

Q: What's your attitude about changing uniforms

KB: (Feigns looking over his shoulder for nearby traditionalists.) I want tradition all the way. (Smiles.)

Q: Are your saying that because you think it's the right answer?

KB: I want tradition all the way.

Q: No, it's actually happening. Osborne announced it today.

KB: Alright, yeah, I would love a jersey change. Not because I don't think we look great or that the teams in the past haven't looked phenomenal. Our scarlet and cream is known around the nation. But it's 2012 now. As far as recruiting goes I think it would really help us. When I was in high school I looked at Oregon and I was like "Man, that's so cool." In the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal. We're the same team whether we're wearing the scarlet and cream or come out in all-black. A little change would be nice. I don't know how our fans would feel about it though.

Q: What would you like to see different?

KB: I like our red jerseys but I think we should wear solid white pants, white socks, and we need white cleats with red Adidas stripes. Then you could rock the white spats. The black? I don't understand the black socks and the black cleats.

Q: You could be a consultant for Coach Osborne.

KB: I wish. (Ed. I also wish this. Either for me or for Kenny Bell.)

Q: Do you ever want to go all-black?

KB: Yes. I'd love it. I think the defense would love it. Anything that would make my teammates happy, I'm all-in.

Q: Do you think most guys on the team would like some change?

KB: That's tough. The guys I talk to, you get some who say "yeah, we need to change it up," but we've got a lot of Nebraskans on the team that are a bit quieter group that I'm sure would say "no, we've been watching that red and white run out of the tunnel forever now." I think the change, if we were to go with it, would be subtle.

Q: Not like Oregon?

A: I hope not. Sometimes Oregon's a little bit much but something simplistic like coming out in all-white or all-red one game would be cool.

So there you go. Kenny Bell is a man of the people. He's in favor of a slight switch, which is what Osborne wants and is what Nebraska's likely to get. Personally, if you're going to cross the traditionalists' line in the sand -- and it was much more unique to be on that side in this day and age -- you might as well go all the way.

Break out the Blackshirts for real. Black helmets too. Osborne originally told the AP that he mandated that the helmets stay the same, then backtracked from that. So, might as well come up with some sort of Blackshirts-themed design -- but not the actual logo because that wouldn't look good on a helmet -- and just let it fly. I think the Blackshirts stencil font could look really cool for the uniform numbers on a helmet.

There are some exciting possibilities. And also some potentially horrific ones as well. Remember, Adidas hasn't really done the Nike Pro Combat thing in football. They did some good throwback mash-ups for Michigan and Notre Dame last year, but those were a far cry from the superhero outfits Nike has made famouse of late. Adidas did do that for basketball this year, creating uniforms nobody really liked, except for the kids of course, for Baylor (glowstick), Louisville (electric orange parading as red) and Cincinnati (neon black?). All featured a Zubaz-like striping on the shorts. So, yeah, my faith in Adidas to really push the envelope is somewhat shaken.

As someone who has perhaps spent more time than anyone else on earth considering what an alternative uniform for Nebraska would look like, I'm surprisingly indifferent towards the announcement. I'm not a staunch traditionalist. I celebrate individualism and Nebraska was increasingly different from everyone else by choosing not to engage in the college couture arms race. And now they're falling in line. Changing with the times.

That's always a tricky proposition. There's something romantic about the person who sticks to their guns as the world around them changes. There's also something foolish. Two episodes in and it already looks like this entire season of Mad Men will be built around this dichotomy. So if you want some insight into what Nebraska's decision to change might mean while you're waiting for the uniforms to be unveiled, I recommend you watch Mad Men. Particularly the new guy, Michael Ginsberg. He's the Adidas uniform designer to Nebraska's Sterling Cooper Draper Price.

All I know for now is that those uniforms better be good. Without spending a dime, Nebraska has already spent a lot on them.

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Comments 17 comments so far

I am 33, and I was digging the Baylor unit (not the stripes, but the hue).
“F-off Green” is a great color.

I vote for limited use and like the Black option.  KB’s suggestions sound more like international “futbol” than our brand of FOOTBALL.

The design is important but when to use it seems just as important. Will it be a distraction or motivation. Let the team decide on the design. Break it out for Penn St.

I know we’ll never begin to look like Nike U…I mean Oregon, and I’m glad for that, but it sickens me to read about them as a comparison. They are a “trend” setting school that is too arrogant for anyone to want to emulate if you respect yourself and others. Their sports teams and their fans are one of the worst in college sports.  Being 26, from WA, played against them in college, it wasn’t hard to find something you couldn’t stand about their egos. For those that travelled to Seattle for the UW game and heard their fans still talk smack after we stomped them, Oregon is worse. For the love of God, I hope this uniform bit doesn’t backfire because we are trying to find a new identity instead of being proud of who we’ve been, are, and will be.

“Our scarlet and cream is known around the nation. But it’s 2012 now.”  Every young person thinks that the future is now.  I’m sure the players of the 1940s were saying the same thing.  It’s okay to change a little every now and and again but let’s not make it drastic.  A one time black helmet with red stripe and red ‘N’ would be cool to see in a game but that wouldn’t be Nebraska Football.  Let’s not redesign who we are.

I am a traditional fan but a new uniform for a game seems good. I liked the change that Nebraska tried several years ago. Some thought it was bad luck but it was just a uniform change.

Their is an age-ole-saying that goes like this:

“If-it-aint-broken - - Don’t fix-it”

I think most of the players (from what I have read) think the old Nebraska fans are not in favor of this.

I think the opposite is true.  I think most old people (I’m one of them) will welcome something like this.

Besides, if it helps one recruit notice us, it’s worth it.

Realizing that recruits are mere teenagers, if they make it into college I would think they would not be so naive as to think wearing pretty or stylish uniforms will either help get their education or make it into the NFL.  What kind of recruit will play the best football for NU?  NU is about hard-nosed tradition.  Subtle / moderate changes are fine, but changing the uniform will not not win an NC.

Ugh, I live in Oregon and have to listen to all the Duck fans out here.  They change their uniforms so often, I wonder if the fans remember what their school colors are… They use several color combinations and many without green…. 
Nebr. changes are good, but wish Kenny would cut his hair..

Nebraska conforms by yielding to the perceived non conformity of alternate uniforms. If it doesn’t change too much I’m OK with it. No Oregon or Maryland style garbage though. I’d be more open to Florida State’s or Missouri’s changes. They were different but not so much they made you forget who was on the field. Plus it gives me something to spend my coin on that should probably be put in the bank.

I’m all for a uniform change, as long as it’s not too drastic and is only done, at most, once a year.  I really don’t want us to use that black on black chrome deal that all the teams are doing.  We should come up with our own flare with this one.  Black would be interesting, but it’s kinda hard to envision something with too much black that doesn’t contradict Osborne’s statement about keeping it in line with people knowing who is playing…I don’t want us marching out looking like T-Tech!  Really though, not sure about all the fuss, it’s not like we haven’t changed things up a little in the past, even for individual games, like the all reds or all whites.  I’m even for doing this every other year or something and alternating it with doing a throwback jersey one game on the years between.  I’m sure we have enough history to come up with a reason once every two years to bust out a throwback.  That way we change it up AND keep with tradition!

Been watching footage of the great 1990’s teams lately.  Those uniforms were studly.  I believe the stripes have to go on the current uniforms.  I’m a traditionalist with the helmets, though. 

We don’t want to be the next Maryland with arguably the ugliest uniforms ever created (although the old school Iowa State gear could give them a run for their money!!!!!!)

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Lose the stripes on the pants and, I know some people will hate this, replace the skinny N on the helmet with the Logo N (with huskers through it).  That would look cool.  Keep helmet white.  Those would be the only changes that would be okay in my book.

Unless Nebraska is doing this move to make money I will question why even do it? Only one game? This would be a solid chance to make a cash grab on new merchandise. Once a season won’t move nearly as much stuff.
So…why do it at all?
I am a traditionalist and wouldn’t want a minute of a new uniform.

I agree with HuskerFaithful1 and think that the skinny N on the helmet should be replaced with the larger, border “N” that is at the center of Memorial Stadium. I hadn’t considered the idea of white pants with white shows; kind of goes against Joe Paterno’s shoe philosophy. Bell has some good thoughts, and it’s interesting that there’s this divide in the team between the in-state players who like traditional uniforms and out-of-state players who want a change.

My basic thought on the issue is this: none of the fans who say that they want the same uniforms. I wrote about this issue in my blog: http://derekjohnsonmuses.com/2012/04/07/not-about-pleasing-70-year-old-fans-nebraksas-alternate-uniforms-and-helmets/
Great debate to have and I wonder if some of the players have gone to Osborne directly to talk about it.

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