More Uniform

Apr 07, 2018

I have this deadline on Friday afternoon, so I go into work at 6:00 (which is WAY early for me). One long day and I can crank it out. So what happens? We drop new uniforms at 7:30 am and I have to spend all day not looking at them. So, since I woke up at 4:45 on Friday morning, my body woke up again at 4:45 on Saturday morning. Before I head to Champaign for the open practice... some thoughts on the more uniform uniforms.

First off, white is gone. Not the white uniforms - those are still there - but the white on the orange and blue uniforms = gone. White "I" on the orange helmet? Gone. White numbers on the blue jersey? Gone. White numbers on the orange jersey? Gone. Here's a pic from the 2014 rebrand reveal showing those jerseys (and all the white):

That's the biggest difference here (for me) - the white numbers on the blue and white jerseys stick out, but the orange numbers on the blue jersey and the blue numbers on the orange jersey... don't. Which brings us to the Syracuse Problem.

We look like Syracuse, right? In 2014, both Illinois and Syracuse revealed new jerseys, both designed by Nike at the same time. Illinois fans loved their new uniforms. Syracuse fans... loved Illinois' uniforms. So what do we do four years later? Copy the Syracuse "blue numbers on orange jerseys/orange numbers on blue jerseys" look. I don't think I like that. I liked our rebrand because we finally had our own distinct look, and now we're going to look like Syracuse.

(Note: some Syracuse people are thinking that this might mean they're getting new uniforms as well. As in, Nike was OK making us look like Syracuse because Syracuse is about to look like something else. We shall see.)

What do I like about the new uniforms? That they're more uniform. This is the new thing for college football. I think it started with the NFL Color Rush jerseys: just colors and numbers - no stripes, no outlines - is the new thing. The new Washington State uniforms last year? Not a stripe to be found - just colors and numbers:

And remember the PK80 basketball jerseys that Nike debuted for that "Phil Knight's 80th Birthday" tournament back in November? It was the same concept as our new orange and blue football jerseys. Dark-colored numbers on dark-colored jerseys so that you can barely read the name or the number? That's cool now, not annoying.

So in that sense, I don't care what I think about them. Our job is to tell Nike to make us look good. The last thing I should do is sit on my couch and be the old man screaming "and kids these days go out in public with holes in their jeans". Even though I feel like I know what looks good and what looks lame on a football field, Nike knows better. So my job is to hope that they make us look like 2019, not 2014. This is that move.

And, it should be noted, we haven't seen any of these in motion yet. Until the players emerge from the tunnel on Labor Day Weekend against Kent State (hopefully wearing orange-blue-orange), we don't really know what these uniforms are going to look like. I need to see a full spread of game photos before I can make a decision. My first reaction is "ugh, Syracuse", but let's see how I feel in September.

For now, I'll just settle at "Nike made us look more uniform". Gone are the stripes and even the shield on the V of the neck. We're now just orange, or blue, (or white), with no outlines or stripes or anything else. Hail to the orange, hail to the blue.

OK, time to head to Champaign. Hopefully the offense looks... MORE UNIFORM.


Nashvegas Illini on April 07 @ 09:08 AM CDT

Thank you Robert. You get me. I hate these jerseys too. My first thought, why are we looking like Syracuse? If we played them tomorrow you wouldn't know who is who. But if we win in them, they may become my favorite unis every. Go Illini

chicagoillinihoops on April 07 @ 10:31 AM CDT

It was time for the 'shield' era to be retired. Many never liked the shield, nor did most people understand it. It was a graphical attempt to tie in the "I" in Illinois to the columns of Memorial stadium. At least the shield is no longer on the uniforms. While it can be fun to have something to talk about in April other than actual football (uniform design), at the end of the day I think most fans just want to see progress in recruiting and progress on the field in the form of competitiveness with good teams and ultimately wins. It would appear that recruiting has begun to heat up, which for many of us has taken too long but realistically it was going to take the staff time to establish relationships and sell their vision of the program's future.

Illinimac68 on April 07 @ 11:18 AM CDT

It's probably too much to ask but I hope to never see all orange again. Orange-Blue-Orange at home, white on the road.

Joe Edge on April 07 @ 12:21 PM CDT

'Nike knows better.' .... ?????

WHY ? Because they make shoes ?..... Sorry, I don't get this part. And I don't buy into the scenario that only 'Nike knows better'

ps: I don't like these new uni's... And I don't care if kids have holes in their jeans.

Lou-a-villini on April 07 @ 02:01 PM CDT


Groundhogday on April 07 @ 05:34 PM CDT

I like the simple uniforms. And like hate the color on color numbers. Should have done the WSU thing, one color for jersey, pants or helmet w/ white for numbers. Or white with color number.

ktcesw on April 08 @ 06:15 AM CDT

Strongly dislike the new uniforms. They look like 1960s uniforms. Oops, they are. Now they just look like Syracuse's. I totally agree with you regarding the look that was introduced before this even though I didn't like the shield.

Schlepper on April 09 @ 10:36 AM CDT

Middle aged guy here. I understand that this is all about what appeals to the kids and gets them excited about playing here. If they like it, great. If we win, I don't care what we look like.

My personal opinion is yuck. I liked the rebrand and we certainly needed it. I was disappointed when they took the stripes off the helmets last year and I don't like the complete lack of stripes now. I'd probably be OK with this if they'd keep a white outline around the numbers and the I on the helmets.

Alaskan Illini on April 09 @ 11:53 AM CDT

Sorry, but these are the worst looking uniforms I've seen since . . . Syracuse. These look worse than rec-league cast-offs from a third world country. Of course, that's kind of how we've been playing the last, oh say, 20 years or so (with limited exceptions). I expected better, and can only hope that the product on the field looks better than these unis (that bar is not very high!). Go Illini!

Sweetchuck13 on April 09 @ 01:57 PM CDT

I can't emphasize how much I hate how dark the "blue" is on the orange jerseys. The numbers and the I on the helmet look black - there's no way that's the same navy blue we've always used. If it's the orange helmet with the blue jerseys, do the blues even match??

I also wonder how much different the reaction might be if the photos showed some different combinations (like the classic orange/blue/orange). In my opinion all white is the only color where all 3 could possibly be the same. We should never do orange/orange/orange.

I think the biggest thing I'll miss about the previous rebrand uniforms is that there were a few little nods to the Bears uniforms (especially in the blue versions) that were a nice tribute to Halas and Grange. Some of the striping, white numbers, etc.

HiggsBoson on April 10 @ 05:50 PM CDT

Just tell Nike to stop designing things and go back to what Butkus wore. Ditto for Flyin' Illini in basketball.

Bear8287 on April 11 @ 03:44 AM CDT

I think the old NPR Car Talk radio show would've said that the uniform designer was Bud Tugly. :-D

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