2012 Big Ten Football Uniform Updates
The Big Ten, a conference of Leaders and Legends, is known throughout college football for tradition on and off the field. Part of this tradition is the classic and iconic uniforms that make up the conference: The Michigan winged helmet, the "Northwestern stripes," and of course Penn State's simple and clean look are among many more uniform traditions within the conference.
Despite tradition and the iconic nature of uniforms, the Big Ten has at least three quarters of its members updating their looks this season, the others remaining quiet—not necessarily stagnant—on the uniform front.
Continue reading to acquaint yourself with the new-look Big Ten and to grade the changes for yourself.
We'll be going at this list alphabetically, so don't get too worked up if you're not first over there at The Ohio State.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois has been unintentionally teasing some new uniform ideas for months now, mostly with recruiting pictures where teams like to show off their flash and pizazz. Back in January we saw a grainy photo of uniform combinations galore, but have heard nothing about uniforms since.
We've also seen some pretty interesting helmets from that same recruiting table. The helmets have updated scripts, multiple base color options and a few new stripe options that scream Illinois. A keen eye will also notice a matte blue helmet. Will Illinois be cashing in on the new matte finish trend?
Coach Tim Beckman tweeted a few uniform concepts and was quickly made to edit that they were concepts for "years to come" and not the upcoming season. Illinois Football's official Twitter also made sure to clear up any confusion with this tweet.
Looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer to see anything new from Urbana-Champaign.
The Hoosiers showed us a white helmet in four games last season, and it appears as though they will be returning, with a very slight update.
Indiana released this photo showing both helmets for this year. The only change? The logo is now much larger than it has been in recent years.
Maybe a larger logo will get some pride running through those Hoosier veins, and maybe some W's on the schedule. Maybe.
Iowa football coach Kirt Ferentz is known as a traditionalist, and his football team's uniforms follow suit. Despite this, Iowa will be rolling out at least two specialty uniforms this season.
The first, a throwback, was discussed back in April of this year. In late June these photos made their way around the interwebs. The throwback is modeled after the undefeated conference champions of 1921-22 and is a great adaptation of a uniform from a different era, though it may not appeal to everyone in the modern age.
The second rumor floating around Kinnick Stadium has been more recent, and still without any photos. Iowa claims to have a special uniform to honor troops in the works for the game against Purdue. Uniform-savvy readers will recall the special helmet they wore last season to honor the troops.
This season's duds will be a bit more extreme. It has been said by coaches and players that they will have silver pants, silver helmets, black cleats and a black and gold jersey. The jerseys will have branches of the military on the nameplate in place of player names.
Quarterback James Vandenberg stated, "Coach Ferentz might not be totally into it, he’s a little more old school, but I think it’s something the players and recruits especially like to see."
Sadly, the uniforms are not just a move to honor the troops, but also a mode of recruiting. Thus is the way of the college football world.
Last season, one of the most recognizable programs in sports rolled out multiple special uniforms. The helmet remained mostly the same, aside from the addition of player numbers on the side, a throwback to previous Wolverine teams.
This season, we've already seen one new introduction to the Michigan uniform arsenal. There is no word on whether the new uniform with yellow shoulder yokes will replace or merely accompany the uniforms introduced last season.
Adidas has really latched onto the shoulder yoke look, as it fits their template quite well. This yoke is quite simple, maize with blue piping, and the classic block M on each shoulder.
Fans of tradition may take solace in Michigan's tendency to test new looks with their road uniform, leaving the blue uniform mostly untouched.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota unveiled new uniforms back in January to an ecstatic "meh" from the casual fan. It doesn't get much simpler than the stripe-less, piping-less uniforms; it doesn't get much classier either.
The devil, as they say, is in the details. Minnesota introduced a new font for names and numbers, a slight variation on tradition fonts that gives Goldy that tiny bit of uniqueness. Another detail in the numbers is the addition of a sublimated brick pattern taken from the walls of Memorial Stadium.
The classic maroon helmet has also been updated. Minnesota has jumped on the matte bandwagon, though they claim their matte helmet is meant to look like the aforementioned brick. Maybe, or maybe Nike just did a bit of convincing for their latest trend.
The facemask and neck bumper are black, a color not seen in the rest of the uniform. A treat for the Gophers: how about Ski-U-Mah on the helmet? Beautiful.
Won't be quite as easy to write objectively on this one, but I will try.
Nebraska recently introduced a new uniform for their home game against new rival Wisconsin. When announced, many, including one BR writer, assumed the Blackshirts would finally roll out a uniform that consisted of, well, a black shirt. Instead, Nebraska showed us their best impression of Michigan's Under the Lights jersey from last season.
Alright, maybe the only similarity is the large letter front and center, but it's less original than it would initially appear. Adidas is making this, as well as the shoulder yoke, their new trademarks.
Despite complaints that the Huskers missed an opportunity to finally have a black jersey, black is a major player in the uniform. The helmet is black with a red stripe and N, the undershirt and pants stripe are black, as well as the numbers and big ole' N.
The look is supposed to throwback to a uniform used around 1929, but the similarities end at the prominence of the N.
Chicago's Big Ten team recently updated their relationship status to "in a relationship with Under Armour" and were not shy with announcing the new partnership. It's not Under Armour's Maryland, but they are definitely unique to American football, something easier said than done these days.
The uniforms have a stripe that goes across undershirt sleeves and across the middle of the jersey. The home uniform has a black "Northwestern Stripe" over a purple jersey and undershirt. The away has purple stripes over white. Under Armour and Northwestern have called the new uniform movement the "Reclaim the Stripe" movement.
Northwestern first introduced the iconic striping pattern back in 1928 and have used variations of it throughout their history. Recently, the pattern has become more closely associated with Ohio State and other more football-centric schools.
Hard to say it's not your stripe when it goes all the way around the player instead of just the sleeves.
The problem most see with this uniform already is that many players may elect to not wear the undershirt, leaving just the center stripe. This may not be a bad look, but it will be incomplete in comparison to what was originally intended. Further evidence of this: The replica jersey has no stripes on the sleeves.
Like Minnesota earlier, Northwestern's numbers contain a sublimated pattern meant to mimic the limestone brick on many Northwestern buildings.
A very simple uniform that has some of the most originality we've seen in a long time.
Penn State Nittany Lions
College football fans know exactly what to expect when Penn State takes the field in Beaver Stadium and in each stadium they visit. The look is plain, boring and more than iconic.
Unfortunately, the uniform has become an icon of child abuse and a tragedy that rocked not only the collegiate football world, but everyone.
The players and coaches in Happy Valley have taken it among themselves to change their look, if only slightly, this season. For the first time in Penn State history, player names will don the back of each uniform. According to the Penn State press release, the addition of player names is not only a change for the sake of change, but also to hold every player accountable for their own and others actions.
The only other change thus far is the addition of a blue ribbon to each uniform. The blue ribbon is a symbol of child abuse prevention, and will be a symbol of the team's sorrow and commitment to child abuse prevention.
It is rumored that State College will make further changes this season or in the next few seasons, but the interest in keeping with tradition seems to be too strong to make drastic changes. The modest changes made thus far are plenty to show a dedication to change within the program and the start of a new era in Happy Valley.
The only update out of West Lafayette, Indiana since last season is the update to their train logo. Chances are it will adorn the collar of the football jersey, but it may not happen.
The logo was not well liked by fans upon its release, but the previous logo had its own flaws. Perhaps a combination of the two would have been best.
Wisconsin and Adidas barely gave the new Cornhuskers jersey enough time to sink in before announcing their own duds for the game. The jersey copies the simple N on the Nebraska jersey with a sans serif W front and center. Gone is the "motion W" Wisconsin has used; enter boring. The plain W is on both sides of the pants, the front of the jersey, and on either side of the red helmet.
Adidas recycled its new shoulder yokes for this jersey as well, with a simple red shoulder. The undersleeves have a white stripe that follows the design of the pant stripe, white surrounded by red.
A new font has been introduced as well. Instead of the traditional block font the Madtown Badgers will be donning a less common football font. Unfortunately, it is not the Aachen font used on Wisconsin word-marks, the "motion W" and the basketball jerseys.
The last time Wisconsin wore a different uniform was the Rose Bowl, in which they used a sublimated rose pattern in the red parts of the uniform. Before that was a throwback in 2005. The helmet for that throwback was unique to Wisconsin and would have gone well with this rivalry jersey.
The Rest: Michigan State Spartans and The Ohio State Buckeyes
I may have lied to the Buckeyes, and transitively to the Spartans. The list was in alphabetical order, but both MSU and OSU have not released any uniform news yet this year, so these schools missed the list and ended up in the roundup section.
Both are Nike favorites for Pro Combats, and if recent years are a testament to the future we will be seeing one-off uniforms for one or both of these teams. Until then, sorry about the little white lie.
We shall see.
As for the rest: The ever-so traditional Big Ten has become a bit more progressive with their uniforms this season. Changes have been made to a uniform that hasn't changed in, well, ever, and down on the farm teams are getting silver recruit magnets. Sublimated brick seems to be a trend, as well as an Adidas vs. Adidas promotion in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Leave your opinions on each in the comments section.