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-

Nebraska’s New Alternative Uniform

When UCLA (an adidas school) released a new uniform yesterday, I got a hunch that we could see something different from Nebraska for their September 14 game against the Bruins.

Today, Nebraska and adidas revealed the alternate uniforms the Huskers will wear.  The set has some minor tweaks to the iconic helmet (a large black stripe instead of the thinner red stripe, a matte finish, and a facemask that transitions from red to black) although the classic sans-serif “N” remains untouched.  The biggest change is a black jersey instead of the usual red.  (A full slide show can be seen here.)

So what do I think?

I don’t like them.

Yes, I am an unabashed old-school fuddy-duddy who thinks Nebraska’s uniforms are fine as they are, thank you very much.  But there is more to my dislike of these jerseys than me being averse to change.  My biggest objection is the black jersey, for two primary reasons:

  1. Only the defense – Nebraska’s storied “Blackshirts” – should wear black jerseys.  Period.  Considering that Nebraska, under Bo Pelini, has not handed out the Blackshirts until the middle of the season, does it really make sense that some third string wide receiver gets to wear a black jersey before Ciante Evans and the rest of the defense?  What in the name of Charlie McBride is going on here?
  2. After the defense’s disastrous performance against UCLA in 2012 (36 points allowed, 653 yards of total offense, with over 300 rushing and passing) black is the last color Nebraska should be wearing against the Bruins.

But I understand why this is happening, and why it will continue to happen.  Recruiting top talent is very important, and today’s kids like wearing cool uniforms like Oregon and dozens of other schools are wearing.*  Black will always be a cool color for young males, as it denotes toughness and strength.  Additionally, Nebraska makes nice money from their contract with adidas as well as the sales of replica jerseys and shirts.  From an operational standpoint, doing an alternative uniform is as close to a no-brainer as you can get.

*A side question:  At what point does the novelty of teams wearing alternate uniforms go away for kids?  I would guess that a quarter (if not more) of all D-1 schools have a mix-and-match “uniform system” with thousands of potential combinations.  Beyond that, many more schools (including staunch traditionalists like Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Nebraska) have dabbled in alternative jerseys or helmets.  When does the “wow” factor switch to “ho-hum”?

My secondary complaint about these uniforms is a repeat of a complaint from last year:  instead of Nebraska receiving a unique, special, and symbolically relevant design they get a cut and paste mockup from this year’s adidas template.  I continue to find it offensive that Nebraska’s athletic apparel partner (who just signed a new contract with the university this year) thinks so little of one of their flagship schools that they cannot create something unique for them; something that no other school wears.

Adidas – if you want to use a high profile Nebraska game to market your super fancy, inter-galactic space polymer uniforms, go all out.  Show the nation that you have talented designers who can create multiple looks, instead of some guy who makes subtle tweaks to a generic template.

A few other thoughts on these uniforms:

  • I don’t care for the vertical split in the numerals.  It makes me think of the uniforms a prison team would wear.  Despite the mostly clean records of Bo Pelini’s players, Nebraska is still living down the off-field crimes of a few former players.
  • What is the pattern on the shoulders?  A first glance, it reminded me of a Bear Bryant houndstooth.  What adidas should have done was used the outline of the state as their pattern, but that would have required doing something unique and outside of the approved template, so I can see why they didn’t.
  • Just to show you that I’m not entirely negative on these:  I love that I’ll be able to read the numbers from row 47.  That was a major short coming of last year’s set.
  • Nebraska’s new athletic director, Shawn Eichorst, really owes Tom Osborne.  Instead of being the guy who trots out the first alternative football uniforms (and likely earned Steve Pedersen-esque ire from the fans) he is simply following a precedent that T.O. set last year.
  • As if you needed further proof that I’m old – I watched the introductory video and my main thought was “Just hold still so I can see the damn things”.

Overall, my feelings are about the same as they were last year:  They could have been a lot better, but they definitely could have been much worse.  In the end, my feelings about them will likely be swayed by how Nebraska plays in the UCLA game.  Win and I’ll probably like them a little more.  Lose and my dislike will only grow.

Even More About Nebraska’s Alternate Uniform

Yesterday, adidas revealed the alternate uniforms that Wisconsin will wear in the September 29 game against Nebraska.  You can see Wisconsin’s new threads here.

Look familiar?

They look an awful lot like the alternate uniforms that Nebraska will wear in that same game.  (Click here for my thoughts on the Nebraska uniforms).

Before I enter into Rant Mode, I’ll say that overall I don’t hate Wisconsin’s version – although I think they should have made them look a little more like the letter sweater that Bucky Badger wears.  It’s a nice futuristic throwback (huh?) look.  Heck, I’ll be honest:  if I turned on a game and saw Wisconsin wearing these, I’d probably say they were cool.

But I hate them.

Why?  Because they came from the same template that produced Nebraska’s alternate uniforms.  Here is an in-depth look at the exhaustive design process used to create the Wisconsin alternates:

  1. Open up the Uni-Maker Pro software
  2. Pull up the 2012_TechFit_Master template file
  3. Delete the sans-serif “N” and type in a sans-serif “W”.  Increase helmet font size by 50%
  4. Uncheck the Home box and check the Away box.
  5. Toggle the color palate from Nebraska to Wisconsin
  6. Click Save
  7. Email the file over to Marketing and CC the factory in Indonesia.

I hate that the NU-UW game – which should be a battle between two of the Big Ten’s premier teams – is reduced to a primetime commercial for adidas to peddle their gear and show that they can crank out cutting edge uniforms like Nike.  I hate that this game not only has a name (“Unrivaled Game”) but also a slogan (“The Quick and the Red”).  I, like others, will be calling this game what it truly is:  The adidas Bowl.

I hate that adidas seemingly cares so little about Nebraska (and Wisconsin) as flagship wearers of the adidas brand that they do not warrant their own unique designs.  While I probably should take that as a sign of how much Nebraska’s national prestige has fallen since 2001, I still take it as a slap in the face from the university’s official apparel provider.  Besides, look at Wisconsin:  two Rose Bowls in the last three years and they have to wear the same uniforms as a team who hasn’t won their conference since 1999.

And I can only chuckle at the biggest irony in this whole thing.  As most college fan know, the traditional uniforms worn by Nebraska and Wisconsin are very similar.  So similar that many fans have a hard time telling them apart when they play (Quick tip:  Nebraska has one helmet stripe, Wisconsin has two).  But thanks to adidas, this year’s game is going to look more like an intra-squad scrimmage than a match up of two traditional powers.  And that is just stupid.

Adidas – you can do better.

Nebraska’s Alternate Uniforms – Reviewed

Today was a day that I have been anticipating and dreading.  Nebraska’s alternate uniform, to be worn a 2012 home game, was revealed today*.

*Funny story – It sounds like Nebraska and adidas wanted to unveil the jerseys next Friday at Nebraska’s annual Fan Day (which makes perfect sense – get a thousand rabid fans on campus, show them something new and shiny, and casually mention that it is for sale at the Huskers Authentic shop across from the stadium.  Brilliant). 

One problem:  the fancy YouTube video adidas created showing off the new duds went online one Friday early.  Somewhere at adidas HQ, an intern is packing up his things.

My reaction:  The uniforms could have been better.  But they could have been much worse.

As you may recall, I’m on record as understanding why Nebraska (poked and prodded by adidas) would sign on for an alternate uniform, while hoping the new design didn’t turn out to be “stupid, ugly – or both”.

If you are one of the 14 Nebraska residents yet to see what the uniforms look like, you can check out pictures and the aforementioned video here:

*   *   *

Allow me to put on my Fashion Policeman’s badge and give these things a head to toe critique:

Helmet – I figured the helmet would be black, but I think simply replacing the white for black is taking the easy way out.  I’m a little surprised that my traditionalist fingers are going to type this, but I wish they would have done more here, possibly making the “N” larger or utilizing helmet numbers on the sides.  But as long as they didn’t put a bunch of glitter on the helmet, I’m happy.  Grade:  C

Jersey – I like the big “N” on the front, as it looks like a football sweater from the 1930’s.  I’d like to have seen the “N” in white with a black border (instead of black with white border), but I guess I should be happy that the whole team will not be wearing Blackshirts.  The teeny-tiny numeral on the chest is interesting.  From a stylistic perspective, I like it.  As a fan in the 47th row of the end zone, it will likely be a real pain in the ass to know who’s who off of that tiny number when NU is on the opposite 20 yard line coming my direction.  I’m assuming the actual jerseys will have the players’ names on the back instead of “Huskers”.  If not, knock this grade down by a minus.  Grade:  B

Pants – Red on red?  Surely somebody at NU told adidas about the 1986 OU game and the resulting fan paranoia over all-red.  As much as black is NOT a Nebraska school color, black pants would have looked better with the jersey and helmet.  Depending on your frame of reference, the lack of a belt makes the whole thing look like a singlet (wrestler), leotard (ballet dancer), 70’s jump suit (Three’s Company fan), or a onesie (parent of a small child).   Grade:  C

Accessories – The video makes a big deal out of the gloves which show the Nebraska sans-serif “N” on each palm.  Given the challenges many NU receivers have had with catching passes in recent years, I think the palms should have a “Y” on them as a subliminal reinforcement to catch the ball.  I know that putting neat-o designs on gloves is all the rage, but these things are a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty waiting to happen.  Also, the video shows some thinly striped red and black socks, which are…um…interesting.  I’m guessing they’ll look decent on a receiver or defensive back and absolutely ridiculous on an offensive lineman (“Daddy, why is that 300 pound tackle wearing dress socks?”).  Grade:  C-

*   *   *

Before I give the uniforms an overall grade, I’d like to share some of the feedback I’ve seen from different local and national voices:

  • Paul Lukas of and the Uni-Watch blog says adidas borrowed the large “N” on the chest idea from the Domino’s Pizza Noid character from their old ads.
  • On Twitter, “Fake Dan Beebe” (@DanBeebe) thinks the “N” on the chest was inspired by a different source.
  • Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel (@TomShatelOWH) tweeted:  “Looking forward to the Big 10 opener in Lincoln, when Texas Tech will play Wisconsin.”
  • Finally, Nebraska’s senior I-Back Rex Burkhead said he loved them and wishes NU could wear them more than once (per the OWH’s Sam McKeown).  Burkhead said the uniforms were “Really cool”.

The Burkhead reaction is a big part of why NU is doing this.  Nebraska fans (even the stodgy traditionalists like me) understand that we need more Burkheads to compete in the Big Ten.  If tolerating an alternate jersey for a game helps Nebraska land some talented recruits, then so be it.

*   *   *

Overall – For me, this is a good reminder of why expectation setting is important.  I expected to hate the alternative uniforms, to find them too futuristic, and too detatched from the tradition-rich history of Nebraska Football.  Instead, we got a modern-looking uniform that both resembles the current look and has a throwback feel with the large “N” on the chest.  I reserve final judgement* until I see them in person, but for now let’s pencil in an overall grade of B-.

*Who am I kidding?  I, and every other Husker fan, will ultimately judge these uniforms on how well Nebraska plays against Wisconsin on September 29.  If NU wins, the opinion will go way up.  In 2002 Nebraska wore some hideously ugly uniforms with a big red side panel.  But had NU won the conference (instead of finishing 7-7) we’d probably still have those uniforms today.  If NU loses to Wisconsin (or repeats their dud of a performance in last year’s game), these uniforms will be an ridiculued footnote in Nebraska lore.

(Update:  8/7/2012 – Adidas has released the Wisconsin version, which has inspired some new hatred from me:

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