I have this deadline on Friday afternoon, so I go into work at 6:00 (which is WAY early for me). One long day and I can crank it out. So what happens? We drop new uniforms at 7:30 am and I have to spend all day not looking at them. So, since I woke up at 4:45 on Friday morning, my body woke up again at 4:45 on Saturday morning. Before I head to Champaign for the open practice... some thoughts on the more uniform uniforms.
First off, white is gone. Not the white uniforms - those are still there - but the white on the orange and blue uniforms = gone. White "I" on the orange helmet? Gone. White numbers on the blue jersey? Gone. White numbers on the orange jersey? Gone. Here's a pic from the 2014 rebrand reveal showing those jerseys (and all the white):
That's the biggest difference here (for me) - the white numbers on the blue and white jerseys stick out, but the orange numbers on the blue jersey and the blue numbers on the orange jersey... don't. Which brings us to the Syracuse Problem.
We look like Syracuse, right? In 2014, both Illinois and Syracuse revealed new jerseys, both designed by Nike at the same time. Illinois fans loved their new uniforms. Syracuse fans... loved Illinois' uniforms. So what do we do four years later? Copy the Syracuse "blue numbers on orange jerseys/orange numbers on blue jerseys" look. I don't think I like that. I liked our rebrand because we finally had our own distinct look, and now we're going to look like Syracuse.
(Note: some Syracuse people are thinking that this might mean they're getting new uniforms as well. As in, Nike was OK making us look like Syracuse because Syracuse is about to look like something else. We shall see.)
What do I like about the new uniforms? That they're more uniform. This is the new thing for college football. I think it started with the NFL Color Rush jerseys: just colors and numbers - no stripes, no outlines - is the new thing. The new Washington State uniforms last year? Not a stripe to be found - just colors and numbers:
And remember the PK80 basketball jerseys that Nike debuted for that "Phil Knight's 80th Birthday" tournament back in November? It was the same concept as our new orange and blue football jerseys. Dark-colored numbers on dark-colored jerseys so that you can barely read the name or the number? That's cool now, not annoying.
So in that sense, I don't care what I think about them. Our job is to tell Nike to make us look good. The last thing I should do is sit on my couch and be the old man screaming "and kids these days go out in public with holes in their jeans". Even though I feel like I know what looks good and what looks lame on a football field, Nike knows better. So my job is to hope that they make us look like 2019, not 2014. This is that move.
And, it should be noted, we haven't seen any of these in motion yet. Until the players emerge from the tunnel on Labor Day Weekend against Kent State (hopefully wearing orange-blue-orange), we don't really know what these uniforms are going to look like. I need to see a full spread of game photos before I can make a decision. My first reaction is "ugh, Syracuse", but let's see how I feel in September.
For now, I'll just settle at "Nike made us look more uniform". Gone are the stripes and even the shield on the V of the neck. We're now just orange, or blue, (or white), with no outlines or stripes or anything else. Hail to the orange, hail to the blue.
OK, time to head to Champaign. Hopefully the offense looks... MORE UNIFORM.