Nebraska football unveiled its 2018 alternate uniform on Monday. As is tradition around here, that means I have to come up with grades for each individual piece of it. Here are those posts for the 2016 and 2017 alternate uniforms.
The new 2018 look, according to the official release from Adidas, pays tribute "to the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, while also celebrating Memorial Stadium." There's a good deal of history wrapped up in these uniforms and that is, of course, a history worthy of commemoration.
But we'll set all of that aside for the purposes of grading, which is based on design only. Nebraska will wear these uniforms against Illinois in Lincoln on Nov. 10.
A few weeks ago Texas A&M wore 1998 throwbacks that featured faux-mesh numbers. You might recognize that look from when Nebraska wore it a year ago, prompting me to joke to our staff that the Aggies were wearing Husker hand-me-downs. (Still looked cool, however.)
Well, now the proverbial faux-leather (shoe) is on the other foot. To go with its 1923 throwback uniforms, Nebraska opted for a faux-leather helmet. Texas A&M pioneered that look in the college ranks with a 1939 throwback four years ago. It seemed to be generally well-received then, but, based on a (very) unscientific sampling of immediate Twitter comments to the Nebraska unveiling, less well-received now.
It doesn't really work for me either. Coming up with a modern helmet design for a uniform referencing 1923 is a challenge because, well, they wore leather helmets and modern helmets don't look anything like that. The Packers tried plain brown in 2010. Wasn't great. Washington tried a brown helmet that simply mimicked leather in 2012. It was weird.
There isn't a great solution here, but given how strong other elements of this uniform are, a plain white helmet might have worked. Or, simply bring that great number font from the jerseys up to the helmet.
Devine Ozigbo likes it, however.
This thing is great. I don't know how close it is to the actual jerseys Nebraska wore in 1923 because most of the photos from then are like looking at a mud puddle, but I don't think it matters that much. Simply being inspired by 1923 design is enough to make for a strong jersey.
It features tonal vertical striping on the front, a common design element for uniforms of the era that we've seen on other throwbacks before, but it's not nearly as loud as some others.
The numbers, however, are the best part. They were inspired by the first game clock at Memorial Stadium, which was a thing of absolute beauty.
Look at those 3s. And the 5s, too. I need to see a jersey with a number 3 or 5 on it to know if they truly were clock-inspired, but if they were Nebraska should use this number font as often as possible. The current helmet numbers sort of remind of it anyway, but just go all in on this font given its ties to Husker history. Not for the full-time jerseys, but you could do it on the back of the full-time helmets and few would even notice except for nerds like me.
And it would mean the world to them (me).
The back of the jersey includes a faithful reproduction of the saying inscribed on the southwest corner of the stadium. It also looks great.
I wish Adidas had provided a better shot of the pants. We're told they're "buff," which is "designed to resemble the first façade of Memorial Stadium." I'm assuming that means gray, or something off-white at least, which is intriguing. I've long pushed for Nebraska to incorporate cream into one of its alternates and this might be close.
The pants are plain, as pants from 1923 most likely would've been, so that sort of sets the starting point here at a C. I'll upgrade them a little bit for not being white and I'll probably upgrade them a little more once I get to see them in person and determine just how "buff" they really are.
I like most parts of this latest alternate uniform, but the helmet dings the overall score pretty good. There are a lot of moving (and potentially expensive) parts when it comes to alternate helmets, so some of that is understandable. In this case –– well, most cases actually –– simpler would've been better.
I try not to grade these things too harshly because I enjoy thinking about uniform design (and visual design in general). I'm not an expert by any means, but it's something I value. So any alternate uniform, great or terrible, is a chance to have those conversations.
Overall, this one is a pretty positive conversation.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.