Nebraska’s 2014 Alternate Uniforms Reviewed

Yesterday, Nebraska revealed the adidas TechFit uniforms they will wear against Illinois on September 27.  This is the third year of Nebraska wearing alternate uniforms, and as you may recall, I haven’t exactly been fond of the previous editions (2012, 2013).  So how do the new ones grade out?


Easily the best component in the whole ensemble.  The matte red with the black sans-serif “N” looks sharp on its own.  Adding the slice of black on the rear of the helmet brings a unique (but not completely original) touch.  The overall lid is easily the best of the three Nebraska alternates to date – even if it may contain a hidden message of anarchy.

Grade:  B+


I didn’t care for last year’s black jerseys (only Blackshirts should wear black jerseys.  Period.)  I like having Nebraska wear red jerseys at home.  So there’s that – and yes, it’s all downhill from here.

My son isn’t old enough to ask for something like a Huskers alternate jersey, which is too bad because this one would be a pretty easy do-it-yourself project.  You would only need three items:

  1. A red shirt – preferably a form-fitting workout type shirt.
  2. Duct tape – classic silver
  3. Electrical tape – basic black

All you would do is put the duct tape on the shirt in the shape of whichever number you want, then put the electrical tape over the top.  Boom.  You just saved $59.99, and made something just as beautiful as this jersey.

I’m not a fan of the pattern in the chest and shoulders.  What is that?  Lightning bolts?  Tiger stripes?  As I said last year, if adidas insists on having some print pattern on the jerseys, make Nebraska’s unique – like the outline of the state, small letter “N”s, or a micro print of Bo Pelini holding a cat.

But my biggest gripe is the missed opportunity.  As the uniform patch tells you, 2014 is the 125th season of Nebraska football.  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.

*Technically adidas was inspired by Nebraska’s past, as the all-red is from the 2012 alternate and the divided numerals are from the 2013 version.

Grade:  C


I’m not a fan of the red on red look.  I didn’t care for it in 2012, and I don’t like it any better in 2014.  I can understand that the kids – and these things are designed with 18 year old recruits in mind – may not want white pants, but I’m not sure they want to look like ketchup bottles either.  I think the pants would have been much better in black.

I’m undecided on the leg stripes.  Initially, I hated them – more electrical tape! – but I’ve come back towards indifference.  Putting an “N” in the stripe is interesting.  I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either.

Grade:  C+


As if there was any doubt that these alternate uniforms are all about getting you to buy things, the photo gallery on has more pictures of the gloves, shoes, and undershirt (3) than they do of the entire uniform (2).

The undershirt cracks me up.  Where to start?  The “N” on the sleeve is odd.  Aside from the unanswered question of why there is only one, there is the problem that unless you’re walking around in a permanent gun show flex (as all alternate uniform models are), that “N” on your arm is going to look like a “Z”.

The giant “N” looks like something a super hero would wear (“It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s Nowledge Man!”).  Maybe the super hero concept helps to explain the reappearance of the lightning bolts on the sleeves.

But the biggest source of amusement will be seeing these shirts on Husker fans this fall.  Our model is an obviously fit young man, in the middle of a flex which raises his chest and shoulders.  The skin-tight shirt looks good on him.  Joe Fan at the tailgate or in row 78 probably won’t be as slender as the model, and likely will just be standing there not flexing.  I guess what I’m trying to say is I fully expect these base layer shirts to look ridiculous on anybody with more than 10% body fat.

Every time I see the receiver gloves that make a picture/logo when put together, I’m always surprised that they do not produce more 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalties than they do.  Again, this is another missed opportunity for the outline of the state, a big bullseye for Tommy Armstrong, or a picture of Bo holding a cat.

I think the cleats are rather ugly – especially with the black dress socks – but no more so than the rest of the ensemble.

Grade:  C


I don’t like these uniforms.

I know, that’s not exactly breaking news given my disdain for the two previous versions.  I’ll freely admit my grades are skewed by who I am:

  • I’m old enough to be the father of a Husker player, so I’m not in the target demographic for these uniforms.
  • I’m unabashedly traditionalist.  I’ve gone my whole life knowing what Nebraska will look like when they come out of the tunnel.  Red jerseys, white pants, the iconic white helmet with the simple red “N”.  The details of that look have changed over the years, but the core stays the same.  I like that.

But as we enter the third year of alternate uniforms (with my third straight bad grade), I’m beginning to think the biggest issue is my expectations.  I want Nebraska to have something cool.  Something unique yet classic.  Something the five star recruits want to wear, but the farmers at the coffee shop will like.  Admittedly, that is a tall order.  Yet every year, I keep expecting the design team at adidas to deliver it.  Unfortunately, I don’t think they can.*

*Nor am I sure that Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, or any other apparel provider could deliver something I’d love, but I wouldn’t mind seeing their concepts…

I think for 2015, I will need to greatly lower my expectations.  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.

Grade:  C-

Is There A Hidden Message in Nebraska’s New Helmet?

Nebraska and adidas released the alternate uniform the Huskers will wear against Illinois in 2014.  While I have some strong opinions on the overall uniform, let’s focus on the helmet.  I’m calling it the Anarchy Helmet.

The Husker’s new “Anarchy Helmet”


Why?  Looking at the initial pictures, the unique color scheme (red and black, separated by a diagonal line) looked familiar to me.  I felt like I had seen it somewhere before.  On a flag, maybe?  A quick Google search revealed that the red and black flag is a symbol for anarchy*

*More specifically, anarcho-syndicalism which Wikipedia describes as “a theory of anarchism which views revolutionary industrial unionism or syndicalism as a method for workers in capitalist society to gain control of an economy and, with that control, influence broader society.”  

A red and black flag used as anarchy symbol. T...

A red and black flag used as anarchy symbol. The flag is associated with a branch of Anarchism closely associated with labor organizations. The red portion of the flag represents labor; the black, anarchism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hmm…anybody see a correlation between that definition and the plight of college athletes in 2014?  How about if we follow that up with another quote from that Wikipedia article:

“The end goal of anarcho-syndicalism is to abolish the wage system, regarding it as wage slavery. Anarcho-syndicalist theory therefore generally focuses on the labour movement.”

Are the Nebraska Cornhuskers agents of anarchy?  Are Kenny Bell, Ameer Abdullah, and others seeking to overthrow a system that makes millions of dollars off of their efforts, but leaves them hungry at night?

Now, I’m guessing the designers at adidas did not intentionally set out to offer a symbolic commentary on NCAA reform, paying student-athletes, or the efforts at Northwestern to unionize college athletes.  And I’ll guarantee Nebraska A.D. Shawn Eichorst, Coach Bo Pelini, or anybody else connected to the University of Nebraska did not endorse any message about anarchism.  Feel free to chalk it up to a random coincidence pointed out by a fan blogger reading way too much into a football helmet design.

Of course, there is one other nugget from the Nebraska/adidas release.  All of the tweets, releases, and social media offerings from Nebraska and adidas have used the hashtag #RedRising.  Using the color symbolism from the flag above, that hashtag says labor is rising.  That sounds like a very apt metaphor for the position of the NCAA student athlete in 2014.

Industrial unionism aside, the Anarchy Helmet is pretty sweet.  I like the matte red with the traditional sans-serif “N” in black.  The black wedge on the bottom makes an interesting visual offset.  It is easily the best component of the 2014 Nebraska alternates, and the best alternate helmet the Huskers have worn to date – even if there is an undertone of anarchy.


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