If you want to know the real difference between Nebraska’s newest alternate and all the others — the reason it’s the best looking one to date — start with the background.
In 2015, the Huskers’ all-black uniform was placed against a red, type-driven background. There was a lot going on.
In 2013, the Huskers’ black-and-white look got a glowing red background. In 2012, Nebraska’s first experiment was a true alternate, the Huskers’ all-red ensemble was set against dramatically-lit bricks. Comparatively less going on in both cases, but still a lot.
This latest set, which will be worn on the road against Northwestern on Sept. 24, gets a simple white background, however, and it’s a fitting complement for a clean and attractive alternate.
As we’ve done in the past, let’s go piece by piece.
The theme of these uniforms, per the press release, is “Husker Chrome” and that’s as evident on the helmet as anywhere else. The traditional red football-N gets the metallic treatment and the facemask itself is shiny-and-chrome. Silver, in this case, works much better than last year’s red chrome facemask.
You know how in B-grade sci-fi flicks wardrobe and set designers always have to answer the problematic question of “what will the future look like?” The answer, more often than not, is shiny. The future is shiny. That’s what this helmet reminds me of, what someone from the 1970s would’ve guessed Nebraska’s helmet of the future would look like. But in a good way.
Also of note, there’s no helmet stripe. It’s not a move for traditionalists — though the 2014 alternate helmet didn’t have one either — but I like it here. Adding more metallic to the helmet might’ve been overkill. The other thing that gives me slight pause is the use of the updated “Herbie Head” logo on the nose bumper. That’s an odd inclusion given how rarely we see that logo. (I don’t even like the script-Huskers logo that much, but it probably would’ve fit in well here.) But those are very minor quibbles.
Nebraska has experimented with shiny alternates before, most notoriously with the numbers on the 2014 alternate, but this is far and away the best use of it because it isn’t a feature of the uniform, it’s the theme.
There are other reasons as well…
If you’ve ever watched the Oakland Raiders play a road game — or an early-season home game for that matter — you know that white and silver together just works. It’s a great look.
Here, the silver sleeve stripes are just the right touch. There’s a “metallic chrome” outline on both the TV numbers on the shoulders as well as the main numbers, but make those sleeve stripes red and I think you lose a little impact.
Make them silver, however, and you’re reinforcing the theme again in a tasteful way.
And it would be irresponsible of me not to note that these uniforms came with some first-class “jersey jabber” as the look was, according to the press release, “inspired by the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, also know as the ‘Star City,’ the new Husker Chrome alternate uniform blends crisp, modernized design with a tribute to Nebraska’s clean, classic signature look.”
Sure, I guess that works as an explanation for all the shining and sparkling going on here, but let’s be honest, these uniforms are heavily metallic because shiny things are popular. If Lincoln were known as the “Sod City,” you’d probably still get a uniform that nearly glows.
You could say that Nebraska has a default style for alternate pants now. The Huskers have used what I guess we’ll now call the “N-stripe” — a double stripe interrupted by the traditional N — on each of their last three alternates.
As with almost everything else going on with this alternate, it works better here than it has before because the stripe and the N are different colors. Still, I’d take a 2016 version of the 2013 pants over these but that, too, is a tiny thing.
Enjoy the look of these pants while you can. Given that Ryan Field has a natural grass surface, they won’t look as good as they do now after the opening kickoff of the actual game.
Gloves? Fine. Base layer? Fine. But the real star of the show here is something I could’ve talked about in the helmet section but wanted to save for last — the state outline sticker.
There’s a pretty proud tradition of state outlines and state flags on football helmets and I’ve always sort of wanted Nebraska to do it. The flag might not work, given the colors, but the state outline definitely would and here it is.
It looks better than I even thought it would.
It’s hard to call anything with “Chrome” in the name minimalist, but this is as close as the Huskers have gotten to something simple with their alternates and it makes all the difference. Clean is probably the better word. Look how nice this uniform looks against a white background. Look how nice it looks against the webpage you’re currently reading. Imagine how nice it will look on a field of green grass under the lights next to Lake Michigan a month from now.
This is the first Nebraska alternate that seems to have considered all those options.
Based on the Huskers’ new sideline gear, I was nearly convinced that Nebraska was going to incorporate cream into its 2016 alternate in some way. In truth, I was kind of hoping it would because I think it would be a great look, but getting it on the sideline gear is a good enough first step. We’ll get to the cream-accented alternate inspired by Nebraska’s letterwinners’ jackets eventually. (Adidas, I’m available to consult.)
For now, this Star City-inspired Husker Chrome uniform is a major step forward for Nebraska’s alternate game. Make it as shiny looking and sounding as you want, what you really have here is a pretty classic uniform for the modern age.
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.