In 1999, the University of Oregon's football team underwent a radical change, trading in their traditional uniforms for a Nike-designed look featuring lightning yellow, a non-school color. Over the years, the Ducks debuted winged jerseys, featured non-traditional colors such as black and volt, and have seemingly worn a different helmet for each game.
While Oregon was the first to do all of these things, every school has dipped into this recruiting tactic or merchandise opportunity since. Whether it was a Pro Combat Rivalry uniform or athletic program-wide rebrand, it would have been naive to not take advantage of this opportunity.
Even Ohio State has slightly changed their uniforms over the years. This season, not only will the Buckeyes wear the latest Nike template, adorned with seven buckeye leaves on the back collar, they'll be wearing a special uniform for The Game. While the change on the regular unis are extremely subtle, it just goes to show the attention being paid to the smallest details in college football.
Here at Land-Grant Holy Land, we want you to know everything about Ohio State football, down to what the opponents will potentially wear each Saturday.
This past Saturday, the Buckeyes took on the State University of New York at Buffalo. The Bulls feature a look straight out of the Nike catalog for the first ever meeting between the two schools.
San Diego State
The last time these two schools met, the Aztecs wore a red helmet that faded to black in the back. However, that was the last season they wore the unique helmet, which has since been adopted by Arkansas and by the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Golden Bears went through a program-wide rebrand in the offseason, updating their wordmark and releasing a cool secondary logo. In an attempt to make their jerseys ferocious, the numbers and shoulders feature a watermark of the growling bear.
The Rattlers have one of the most in-your-face home jerseys in all of college football. Come on, the front of the pants are orange while the back of the pants are green! Somebody at Russell Athletics needs to be fired. Luckily, their away jerseys are a little more easy on the eyes.
When Barry Alvarez became the head man at Wisconsin, he vowed to make the Badgers look and play like Nebraska, where he played in the 1960's. With Nebraska's entrance into the Big Ten, uniform snobs have longed for something to distinguish the Huskers and Badgers from one another. This season, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen introduced a inverted helmet to the rotation, which will be worn at his discretion.
The only Big Ten school to wear a uniform manufactured by Under Armour, the Wildcats underwent a facelift last offseason. First introduced to football by the 1928 squad, the "Northwestern stripes" on the jersey are uniquely placed under the numbers on the front and back of the jersey. The Wildcats tend to wear black for night games, and with the Buckeyes being the biggest game on the schedule, maybe they'll even break out a special helmet.
The extent of Iowa's special jerseys are a throwback here and there, and other than the America Needs Farmers sticker, the helmets have remained unchanged since the 1970's. When the Hawkeyes come to Columbus for Homecoming, the game will look the exact same as it did the last time these two met, a 27-24 victory which sent the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl.
Unchanged since the dawn of time, the Penn State uniforms, while boring, are among the most recognizable in sports. In reality, the Nittany Lions have worn numbers on the side of their helmet in the past, even as recently as last season as a tribute to a injured senior linebacker. Although this led to speculation of a rebrand, the only change this season is the logo placed on the collar.
Two seasons ago, Purdue became the first Big Ten school to wear Nike's patented Flywire technology, proving that the results on the field have nothing to do with what lightweight, moisture-wicking jersey you wear. The Boilermakers still wear the same jersey, but I long for a return to gold uniform the team wore during 'Holy Buckeye'.
Rumored to be receiving a Nike rebrand in 2014 that will feature the zig-zag pattern used by the basketball team , the Illini are still wearing Miami (FL) knockoffs. In the meantime, they'll just play mix-and-match with their helmet logos, hoping that it distracts us just enough to not notice product on the field.
When your football program is overshadowed by the basketball team, why not try to emulate them? Indiana did so this offseason, introducing 4 new football helmets, with one being a nod to the candy-striped warmups worn by the basketball team. I'm hoping that the Hoosiers bring those helmets to Columbus, although if past years are an indication, expect to see the regular crimson shells.
Although their away jerseys have been slightly modified over the years with random piping or stripes and the helmet has been adorned with pride stickers or numbers, Michigan's home jersey have been untouched from the first time they took the field 134 years ago. I personally feel that the Ohio State-Michigan game should feature both teams wearing their home jerseys, like USC and UCLA do, but this year's matchup will likely feature Ohio State's special alternate against Michigan's home jerseys. That is, unless Adidas has something up their sleeves to counter Nike.