Nebraska football will be taking the field with an alternate uniform once again this year. Nebraska and adidas announced that NU would be wearing a special black uniform and modified helmet against UCLA on Sept. 14 when the Bruins come to Lincoln. This game will mark the latest in the adidas Unrivaled series of games where adidas schools showcase alternate uniforms. You can see the movie-preview quality video of the rollout here.
The alternate jersey is black, with a stenciled sans-serif numeral in white (and thankfully full-sized, as opposed to last year’s very cool but challenging to see smaller numerals in the front). The jersey will also have what Uni-Watch’s Paul Lukas refers to as a feathered stretch mark pattern, what adidas calls its “ShockWeb” technology. The B1G conference logo will be in red on the right breast, while the “Winning Tradition” patch will remain on the left breast.
The cleats will be black with red accents, and the pants will be white with black striping. The helmet retains the iconic sans-serif N on a white background, but the helmet will be matte white instead of shiny. The thin red strip will be replaced by a wide black one, and Nebraska will join the trend this season of multi-colored facemasks with a black facemask transitioning to red in the middle. Of course, the traditionalists and self-proclaimed “old-school fuddy-duddy” contingent hate the new look. And there is something to be said that the entire team should not be wearing black shirts if the defense is going to call itself the Blackshirts.
But, personally, I’m thrilled to see Nebraska get an alternate uniform this year. There’s no doubt that players—and recruits—love the chance to wear alternates. You can see a roundup of Nebraska players’ reactions (collected by the Omaha World-Herald) here, and see Indiana’s football players lose their freaking minds when the Hoosiers’ alternate unis were rolled out earlier this year.
So for all you Nebraska fans fretting about NU falling behind in recruiting, you are officially on notice that you have to zip it with your complaints about how alternate uniforms offend your ideas of tradition and image. Nebraska needs every competitive advantage it can get in the cut-throat world of recruiting. If that means NU rolls out a superhero costume once a year—and as a result, a few more four-star and five-star recruits are willing to give Nebraska another look, or maybe even an official visit—then the alternate unis have done their job.
Besides, it’s fun. Nebraska’s football program is rich in tradition and history, and that history is a huge source of strength. But ultimately, we are talking about a game being played by college kids. Letting them have an alternate uniform once a year makes things fun and keeps things fresh for the players, and for the fans.
I am the proud owner of a No. 3 Nebraska alternate jersey from 2012, and I wore it with pride the week before the Wisconsin game (and for a few game days afterwards). I was borderline stunned at how frequently I was stopped by people commenting on how cool the jersey looked (and believe me, when the jersey gets that reaction when being worn by someone as dopey as I am, it must be pretty cool) and asking where I got it.
For Nebraska fans, it must seem like everyone else in the world is also a Nebraska fan. But the fact remains that, even in the Cornhusker state, there is a vast swath of people that are indifferent to the Nebraska football team. The alternate uniforms, used judiciously, gives Nebraska the opportunity to get those people’s attention and garner a few new fans with the Unrivaled series.
Making the players happy. Getting the attention of recruits. Turning the heads of people who might not otherwise be Husker fanatics. The alternate uniforms do a lot of good things for Nebraska. Keep that in mind next time you put on your red-and-white striped overalls and complain about the death of Cornhusker tradition and the resulting end of humanity as a result of the alternate unis.
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