They’re not throwbacks, retros, or alternates.
They’re legacy uniforms.
Friday night, three months to the hour before the Michigan football team will play against Notre Dame in Michigan Stadium’s first night game, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon unveiled Michigan’s uniforms for the game.
The uniforms are blue with a block ‘M’ on the front, in an old-school stitched pattern. Jersey numbers are on both sides of the gray face-masked helmet as well as on the left shoulder, where a captain’s ‘C’ would be in hockey. Alternating Maize and Blue stripes are on top of the shoulder pads.
“The uniform is really an aggregation of multiple elements of our football uniforms, going past decades,” Brandon said. “We really should think of it as a legacy uniform. If you were in Schembechler Hall and you walked by the wall that has team pictures going back all the way to the late 1800s, you will see that there are substantial changes and a lot of different looks that these uniforms took on over time.
“And what we really wanted to do as part of this special event is to grab key elements from those different team uniforms and incorporate them into something that our players wear and have a lot of fun and get excited about in this big game against Notre Dame.”
The announcement was made inside a suite at Michigan Stadium. With many of the current football players on hand, junior quarterback Denard Robinson and redshirt senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen modeled the uniforms for the assembled crowd.
Robinson echoed many of the sentiments the players had already expressed about the uniforms.
“These uniforms are amazing,” Robinson said. “I love them.”
These uniforms have been a year in the making. And they’ll only be worn once. The jerseys will be auctioned off for charity after the game.
According to Adidas Director of Sports Marketing Chris McGuire, the company went through approximately eight different renditions and also worked with the athletic department to make sure they were legal for game play.
With the block ‘M’ on the front of the jersey being the biggest feature, the numbers on the front were the biggest problems. NCAA rules require teams to have numbers on both sides on their jerseys and that they be at least an inch-and-a-half wide.
“We worked with the officials, and with the conferences and we worked with Notre Dame to capture that element in a way that we don’t think will affect the competition but really gives us a chance to fully develop the theme,” Brandon said.
The uniforms had some competition for breakout star in the event. The 6-foot-6, 283-pound Van Bergen impressed people with his modeling abilities, particularly fellow defensive end junior Craig Roh.
“I loved it right away,” Roh said of the jerseys. “It’s innovative, it speaks to the tradition that Michigan has and Ryan Van Bergen just looks great in it.”
Added Van Bergen: “I would consider myself an amateur modeler … I’m ready for America’s Next Top (Model).”