There have been good, bad, and down right ugly. Turn on any college football game this season, and your almost guaranteed to see a new look uniform, a special alternate helmet, or a pants / jersey combo that is just 1 of 10 that you’ll see that team wearing on any given Saturday.
Over the past several seasons, teams have busted out new uni’s at the rate of….Well, the Oregon Ducks. Even the historically traditional Big Ten has joined in the uniform craze. Last year, Ohio State and Michigan State went with the Nike Pro Combat look. The Michigan Wolverines have had slight alterations to their maize and blue. This year, Minnesota is also going with uniforms designed by Nike, although the look is relatively unchanged. And even the ubber-traditional Nebraska Cornhuskers have teamed up with Adidas for a one game alternate uniform.
So in the age of the ever updating uniform, the Northwestern Wildcats have unveiled a new look brought to you by Under Armour. Yes, the same Under Armour which brought you these (Maryland)! Although they may have missed the mark with the over aggressive Maryland uniform, the new Wildcat look still has an aggressive edge, while remaining traditional. The NU website describes the look as “a fusion of innovation and tradition, providing players with state-of-the-art technology while celebrating the University’s football heritage.”
The main feature of the new look is the horizontal stripe, across the numbers that wraps around the entire uniform. In the world of uniform design, it is known as the “Northwestern Stripe”. That goes back to 1928, when the Wildcats were the innovators, the first college football team to feature a stripe on their sleeve. It’s now back and being inserted into the Wildcat dress code. When talking to former NU safety Scott Brownley, he said, “Its a cool look, looks intimidating. Baltimore Ravens-esque.”
But, not all change is accepted with open arms. Admittedly, the first time I saw an image of the new look, my first reaction was, “What is that?”. I thought it was jarring, I didn’t understand it. I have a feeling that reaction will be felt by others, and I can’t blame them. It’s after a little research into how Under Armour went about designing the new look to be used across all sports on campus that I began to get it. They studied the Gothic architecture on campus to come up with the font style, and looked into the history of Wildcats athletics when incorporating the stripe. The new uniform catches your eye, it sticks out, and maybe best of all, it honors tradition. It is inspired by all things inherently Northwestern. It truly is a Northwestern look.
For a school which often gets over looked in the Big Ten, this uniform gives an identity. It is a way to get noticed. Not just by college football fans and media, but for a younger generation, who like every generation before them, seeks individuality. The right look will sell, not just in the campus store, but to recruits looking for style and for the flair that can be all there own. In this day and age, style is everything. It will put a college football team on the map, and the Northwestern Stripe just put a thumb-tac on Evanston, Illinois.
- Article by Greg Armstrong, Ayo Kdoe Productions