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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Husker Nation Weighs In on Big Red Uniform Debate

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Brian Towle
Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star published an article that contained remnants of an interview conducted with Athletic Director Tom Osborne.
In the article, Osborne states that the Nebraska uniform is good at being “traditional.” The former Husker head coach has shot down ideas from Adidas suppliers to do anything but have the basic scarlet and cream uniforms that we’re all accustomed to.
The thought of staying “traditional” is a familiar argument from both Nebraska brass and fans. Granted, there hasn’t been much talk about wholesale uniform changes since the 2002 single stripe look. However, it’s fair to say that Osborne and the athletic department seem to have chosen to ignore a critical aspect of this argument.
Such an aesthetic change limited to even once per year allows Nebraska to not only feature something fresh, but market it to a fan base willing to drop the cash to get a memorable piece of authenticity.
Remember the auctioning of the 2010 game-worn 1962 throwback jerseys worn to commemorate Nebraska’s 300th sellout? What about the gloves that fans clamored for since they made their appearance in July of 2011 before buying up faster than they could be put on shelves?
To get a truly unbiased take from the people who’d ultimately be pumping coin into the program, we decided put you on the spot, Husker Nation.
Around 4:00 PM yesterday, we unleashed a modest four question survey that can be accessed by clicking this link. Following eight-plus hours after being broadcast on Twitter, Facebook, various message boards and other social platforms, the results were somewhat surprising. 905 people made their voices heard.
Does Nebraska need to do a revamping of their current uniform?:
Yes: 43.5% – 394 votes
No: 56.5% – 511 votes
That the majority of voters answered “no” isn’t surprising, however the number of votes in favor is an eye-opener. Many of the Husker Locker staff thought that a good 2/3 of the vote would shake their heads in disagreement. To say that the margin being so slim is surprising would be an understatement.
Would you like to see Nebraska do a once-a-year “special uniform” for things like Homecoming and to celebrate special things:
Yes: 54.8% – 496 votes
No: 9.7% – 88 votes
Would Be Open to the Idea: 35.5% – 321 votes
The numbers tell a very interesting tale. Out of every 10 participants, at least nine would be open to at least considering something different once a year. If this is true, the athletic department is missing a great opportunity to market and feature a special yearly treat for fans.
What kind of “special” uniforms would you like to see Nebraska use? (Check all that apply)
Black Uniforms: 55.2% – 479 votes
An Adidas Version of Nike Pro Combat: 37.1% – 322 votes
Throwback of a special team (‘71 or ‘94 & '95 teams): 36.2% – 314 votes
A rotating choice of above: 33.3% – 289 votes
Other: 9.6% – 83 votes
No Response – 38
For all the hatred of a black uniform concept, over half the voters to the question would like to see a version of it. Another large chunk is clearly fans of throwbacks such as the 1962 “Bob Browns.”
If anything, what on Nebraska’s current uniform would you change? (Check all that apply)
Style of Numbers/Letters on Uniforms: 36.8% – 243 votes
Pants: 33.4% – 221 votes
Shoes (white shoes/socks): 21.2% – 140 votes
Helmet Facemask Color: 27.3% – 180 votes
Style of Jersey: 45.8% – 323 votes
Tightness of Jersey: 16.5% – 109 votes
Others: 22.7% – 150 votes
No Response: 244
Some surprising results popped up with this question. Many of the people in the “other” category that supplied their own answers were those desiring for the jersey to stay as it is. As you can see, almost half of the voters would change some sort of the style of the jersey (unfortunately, the poll didn’t go into those specifics, but maybe another time.)
Changing the style of numbering and lettering was expected as that could be a combination of the stretch fabric Adidas often uses and different font type agreed upon by Nebraska/Adidas. A surprise number of votes showed up for new pants.
Some will ask the purpose of this survey. There are two reasons: First, to find out what makes Husker Nation tick (Husker Locker being for you, the fans, of course), but also to find out if those same fans truly agree that Nebraska absolutely needs to stay “traditional.”
No one is asking Adidas, the Nebraska athletic department, or Tom Osborne himself to reinvent the wheel. Even with slight alterations through the years, the Huskers’ uniform has stood the test of time and has remained one of the most iconic aspects of college football.
However, with the numbers above showing the voice of Husker Nation, it’s also clear that Nebraska should consider getting on the train of offering some flash once in a while.
For some reason, the athletic department is deciding to avoid marketing to what a majority of people under the age of 30 see from other schools around the FBS. With nearly every game televised or available online, creative and controversial duds are beamed across America to kids that eventually can, and in some cases do become Cornhuskers.

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Husker Nation Weighs In on Big Red Uniform Debate

Forget about Oregon for a moment since that becomes the obvious arguing point. Remember Florida’s uniforms over the last few years? What about Tulsa, West Virginia or Pittsburgh?
These changes are noticed just as much, if not more than “traditional” looks like Penn State, Nebraska, UCLA, etc. Let’s not forget that if an item is eye-catching on the field, it’s even better (and more profitable) when fans can get their hands on it in the souvenir shop across the street.
Ultimately, Nebraska can’t hide behind “tradition” every time there’s something that threatens the status quo. The Huskers were successful with a 60-5 run in the 1990’s, but keeping every aspect from two decades ago around because it’s allegedly “fine the way it is” isn’t the way to operate any sort of large-scale, long term operation.
As Osborne learned himself over 25 years of being a head coach, being open to adaptation and staying ahead of the game will help not only the team, but the perception of fans both the casual non-local observer and diehard.
Perhaps sometime in the next few years, a recruit will again be impressed with all that is Nebraska’s legacy from its academic support, rabid fans and all other items in the brochure. Then, when he gets the opportunity to see not only that red “N” we all know and love, but a few more non-conventional threads, the scales might be tipped just enough to nudge him off the fence and into Lincoln, Nebraska.
Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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