On Saturday, Nebraska will wear special “Memorial Tribute”* uniforms, which draw strong design influence from the uniforms the 1923 Huskers wore. Why 1923? That was the first season NU played at Memorial Stadium.
*Let’s take a second to address Adidas’s ridiculous name for this uniform. At best, “memorial tribute” sounds similarly synonymous and slightly redundant. At worst, it describes an eulogy – possibly for the days when alternative uniforms didn’t need their own identity branding story.
Due to a chaotic and stressful October, I wasn’t able to give these a proper review when they came out. So let’s fix that.
As is the custom, we’ll go from the top down.
From the reaction I’ve seen, the helmet is the most controversial piece of the ensemble. The intention was to make it look like a stitched leather helmet of the time. This apparently has not clear to all who have seen it. In looking for pictures and reaction, I came across comparisons to a jock strap and a sleep apnea CPAP mask. One glass half full fan suggested that the Huskers “can use the protractors on their helmets to knock out some geometry homework on the sideline”. I’m all for adding to the list of Academic All-Americans.
As for me, I get – and like – the concept. If you’re going to throwback to 1923, it wouldn’t look right with the regular “N” helmet. You go big to complete the look, and that is what Adidas has tried to do. I’m hopeful that, in person, the helmets look a little better than the handful of promotional pictures indicate.
As it is, this is one of the few times in Nebraska’s alternate uniform history that the helmet is not the star of the show.
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews of the Husker alts, you’ll likely know three things: 1) I am an unabashed traditionalist, 2) I dislike unnecessarily gaudy uniforms that choose to promote Adidas’s innovations instead of Nebraska’s history, and 3) any alternate jersey where you can’t see/read the numbers from the stands is a failure.
In other words, I typically use most of this space to tell you everything Adidas got wrong. Today, it is my great pleasure to tell you everything that Adidas did right.
- Adidas mercifully retired their sublimated “Primeknit” that looked like lightning bolts or tire treads. Their new miracle fabric – which looks somewhat like corduroy in the pictures – is perfect for a throwback look.
- The panels on the front are a great nod to 1923, and offer some nice visual interest without being over the top.
- I love, love, love the numeral font which was influenced by the old Memorial Stadium clock – and not the 2018 Adidas Alternate Uniform Master Template.
- As an added bonus, I feel confident that I will be able to read these numbers from row 47.
The only thing I would change would be to put the player names on the back – in the same retro font as the numbers. That said, I have no issue with using the “In the deed the glory” inscription back there, as it helps tie the “Memorial Stadium” theme together.
This, my friends, is easily the best alternative uniform Adidas has produced for Nebraska Football.
What color are these pants? The Adidas marketing materials describe them as “buff,” which is “designed to resemble the first facade of Memorial Stadium.” I take that to mean “buff” is a grayish limestone color. Personally, I hope they are a shade of cream to really accent the gorgeous scarlet jerseys.
The pants do not have appear to have any stripes, bells, and/or whistles, which is great for staying out of the way and completing the throwback look. Unfortunately, it’s really tough to give a fair grade to the sartorial equivalent of a neutral interior house paint. Points are given for not stealing focus from the star of the show.
In a sharp departure from the last few alternate uniforms, the accompanying accessories are notably absent from the teaser images. The apparently beauty of sporting a 1923 throwback is players 95 years ago didn’t bother with things like “base layers” or gloves that form a picture when put together just so) are not pictured. The flexing uniform model has on a pair of plain red socks, and relatively plain black Adidas cleats. I have no problems with this.
I’d be curious to see what the overall uniform would have looked like with red socks with a cream (or “buff”) stripe. It may not have been what Nebraska wore in 1923, but it would have been accurate for the era. As an example of what I’m talking about, check out the socks Iowa State wore with their Jack Trice inspired throwbacks. That said, I’m on-board with the “less is more” vibe of these uniforms, so all red socks are fine by me.
If I have not been clear enough so far, I love this uniform.
This is the sixth Nebraska alternate I’ve reviewed, and every time before I’ve wanting something more, something better. For example:
- 2012: “I expected to hate the alternative uniforms, to find them too futuristic, and too detached from the tradition-rich history of Nebraska Football.”
- 2013: “I continue to find it offensive that Nebraska’s athletic apparel partner…thinks so little of one of their flagship schools that they cannot create something unique for them; something that no other school wears.”
- 2014: “I didn’t expect Nebraska’s alt to be a true throwback, but I was hoping it would at least draw some inspiration from an old Nebraska jersey. A faux-retro Bugeaters jersey would have been beyond amazing, which is clearly too much to ask…. I should expect adidas to provide Nebraska something that is on the line separating flashy and gaudy. Something that looks like it came off a generic corporate template, instead of being inspired by Nebraska’s rich history. I should expect a mediocre alternate from adidas, because that is all they have ever given us.”
- 2015: “One of my biggest criticisms of adidas is how they put all of their schools through a generic template and fail to do anything unique – even for a once-a-year special jersey.”
- 2016: “Finally, adidas seems to get that gaudy designs won’t play here. Superhero costumes that barely resemble Nebraska Football don’t work here. Numbers that are impossible to read are a failure to the 90,000 passionate fans that show up here.”
While I know that Adidas doesn’t give a damn about what some two-bit blogger has to say, the “Memorial Tribute” uniform is not only visually satisfying, but personally gratifying.
And with the final keystroke of the previous sentence, I’ve already started lowering my expectations for next year, because the only place to go from here is back down. I’ll make my peace with this on one condition: we bring these uniforms back out in 2023 for the true 100th anniversary of Memorial Stadium