|2012 'Unrivaled Game' Uniforms for UW|
It's safe to say there's a bit of a buzz for the new jerseys for the Badgers 'Unrivaled Game' against Nebraska on September 29th. That's bound to happen especially since Wisconsin's look is so iconic and conservative by nature and even more so since their national profile has never been higher following back-to-back Big Ten Championships and Rose Bowl appearances.
However, it's also safe to say the reaction has been mixed at best. We've seen, heard, and found them all from the simple "Yuck," to the more 'interesting' reaction of "We've found the uniform equivalent to scheduling Wofford."
Those are the bad reactions, but it's not all bad as some love the red helmets, those in that group include Badgers running back James White, who said "I really like the helmets. The helmets are pretty sweet with the red and black face-masks." via a Youtube video released today.
Here is the full video if you want more reaction from the student-athletes themselves:
As for the positive fan reaction? Those that like them, including myself love hearkening back to the look of the 1962 team with the block W on the helmet and uniform. Sure, it's not super original or anything like that, but is original always better? (ahmm... talking to you Maryland 2012 uniforms, seriously those helmets were bad last year and they found a way to make them even worse this season!!)
At first I wasn't really a big fan of these uniforms, but it had to do with the kind of copycat nature of the Nebraska uniforms released recently. That went away once I learned it was all part of the 'Unrivaled Game' played by two schools with Adidas sponsorship. So, you can't really expect Adidas to showcase two completely different designs for a game billed as a showcase for the uniform supplier. Giving one team a leg up on the other in terms of design just isn't a good business strategy.
There are those that complain that it wasn't enough this or that, or that it's too plain. To that I ask,
what is Wisconsin supposed to do? Our colors have been and always will be a variation of red and white. We're also playing a team that is historically red and white and we're the road team, meaning we have to wear white. So, it's not like we're Oregon and can just make up new colors for our school at any point in time.
For what they had to work with in terms of colors and variations they did the best they could do while giving us something we've never seen before as Badger fans. We've seen red and white in all forms, except seeing Red Helmets with the block W.
What I like about the Badgers version over the Nebraska one is it at least attempts to stick to the regular color scheme of the entire team, unlike Nebraska which will wear more black then ever before, unless you're a defensive player that is.
The helmets of Wisconsin, red in nature is something most Badger fans alive today probably have no recollection of knowing existed, they've only worn a full red helmet once in their history and as you can see from the picture at the side it was with Bucky Badger as the decal, not a W. Those helmets were worn from 1967-1969.
For me the helmets for Wisconsin, unlike Nebraska are the single best part of the uniform. The other part I like is that there will be no names on the back of the uniforms, but simply the word "Badgers." This is a team and program that speaks about it all being about the team and taking one game at a time and it kind of sends that exact message with the removal of the individual names for the team name.
I may actually end up purchasing this uniform in the end because it's begun to grow on me already and we're only a few hours out from the public unveiling of it. I'm sure I'm in the minority.
Having said all of that, the one big negative in all of this hoopla over the uniforms is Wisconsin's record in games they have played with these so-called one off uniforms. Since the Alvarez era started and the new basic look was adopted Wisconsin has played in alternate uniforms just three times (not including wearing red pants in the rose bowl). Problem is they are just 1-2 in those games.
The first of those games was a rather forgettable 1995 game against the Colorado Buffaloes, one in which we wore these "special" uniforms against the Buffs (a.k.a. the Cowboy ripoffs):
It just so happens that was a complete disaster on the field as well, with Colorado winning the game 43-7. Were the uniform gods trying to tell us something?
The 2nd game came in the 2005 season to celebrate the renovations at Camp Randall, with the Badgers attempting to go towards the uniforms of the mid-60's (you can see them below).
That game ended quite a bit better, with the Badgers winning 56-42 over the Falcons.
But the last one is the game that probably hurts the most for Badger fans, last years Rose Bowl, where Wisconsin wore uniforms adorned with special rose designs in the helmet decal and the numbers on the uniform. We all know how that one ended... Wisconsin losing a heart-breaker 45-38 to the flashy Ducks.
In the end whether or not you or I like them, the bottom line is what the players and future players at Wisconsin think matters most and it's clear that the guys on this team want and like the jerseys they will be wearing. In the world of recruiting doing stuff like this once in a while can help you out. Let's just hope the Badgers can even up their record in their first trip to Nebraska in nearly four decades on September 29th.