Michigan Wolverines' Outback Bowl Unis Mock Tradition

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIDecember 18, 2012

Denard Robinson made this look work—but have the Wolverines gone too far with other variations of their uniforms?
Denard Robinson made this look work—but have the Wolverines gone too far with other variations of their uniforms?Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

It's not like they're the Oregon Ducks, but the Michigan Wolverines have amassed quite the wardrobe during the past two years with somewhat conservative, yet sort of flashy, renditions of the traditional Maize and Blue.

This year—by my count—marks the seventh variation since Brady Hoke took over as head coach.

The Wolverines are now wearing a fashionable matte-finished winged helmet with their white-bodied, blue-sleeved jerseys on Jan. 1 in the 2013 Outback Bowl versus the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The more traditional sect of Wolverines fans, those who remember the Bo and Woody rivalry, those born and bred Wolverines faithful, probably aren't big fans of the new looks. There are probably younger generations that detest varying the uniforms—they were raised by the Bo and Woody generations, who were in turn raised by Bump Elliott generations and so on and so forth.

Michigan's uniforms are iconic.

Not many programs can lay claim to that status. Subtle changes here and there—mostly vendor-related—haven't altered or really damaged the overall look of Michigan for the most part (minus highlighter yellow jerseys). However, straying too far from the classic is quickly making the Wolverines seem like they're caught up in a college trend. That's not "Michigan-like," is it?

Michigan doesn't follow trends, it sets them (Google search: Fab Five, black socks). How many teams wear the winged helmet because of Michigan (not first to wear winged helmets, though)?

The need for change is fine, just as long as it's not of the drastic nature.

"I like a little change," Wolverines legend, 1997 national champion and Heisman winner Charles Woodson said to a host during a radio event in May (via AnnArbor.com). "I especially like the one with the 'M' on the front. I like a little change up. I played for three teams: Michigan, Oakland (Raiders) and Green Bay (Packers). Three teams with great tradition. Green Bay ain't changing, Michigan's worn some different jerseys and Oakland wasn't changing.

"I've been fortunate to play for teams that have had strong tradition, but I like a little change up. It looks good to me."

Woodson was right about the block "M" jerseys that Michigan wore against Notre Dame. That "throwback" look is a personal favorite—it just says old-time college ball. The addition of numbers to the helmets was a nice touch, but Michigan is steering toward arena football look-a-likes with recent issues of jerseys.

College football is changing, as it does from time to time. Michigan has to change with it—but it doesn't have to dive in head-first.

As mentioned, the Wolverines aren't the Ducks—not that any programs is remotely close—when it comes to changing faster than Clark Kent in a phone booth. Part of the allure of Nike U is the fact that players can suit up in 98,515 different helmet-pant-glove-jersey combinations (rough estimate, of course) that come complete with with holographic logos.

A lot of recruits love that. The uniform helps Oregon—and the traditional look helped Michigan.

How many youths grew up with the dream of one day wearing the winged helmet? It was something that was much more than just a "helmet," but a representation of greatness. For that reason, Michigan's helmet has been left alone, for the most part.

Michigan isn't the only proud-about-the-past program that's opted for contemporary uniforms. Notre Dame, Texas, Ohio State and several others have added bells and whistles, too.

But is the risk worth the reward? Remember, traditionalists, graduates and lifelong supporters of the University of Michigan live and swear by the nostalgia that is Michigan Wolverines football.

All of this recent neon-inspired, multi-paneled nonsense is a mockery. The 2013 Outback Bowl threads just highlight how far Michigan continues to stray from tradition—even if it's just by altering what its football team wears on the field.

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81