adidas track tops Alternate uniforms make bold statement
LINCOLN When Mark Daniels and his team of designers at Adidas America laid out a number of alternate uniform options for Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne, they discovered something that seems fitting after Osborne’s retirement announcement.
“He can very quickly assess what he likes and doesn’t,” said Daniels, the director of football for Adidas. “And he gets his point across. He can yell in a whisper.”
They discovered something else: Osborne didn’t opt for the safest choice. Not the boldest one, either the design of which Daniels, with a chuckle, declined to disclose. But considering the black helmet, black accents and all red uniform, Osborne’s pick went far beyond vanilla.
“If 10 was phenomenally aggressive and one was phenomenally conservative, this was a seven,” Daniels said. “It’s a bold use of color and a bold use of the logo.”
And it’ll be on national TV along with Wisconsin’s all white alternate look in the new Adidas “Unrivaled” uniform game. NU UW dubbed “The Quick and The Red” is the first in the series, and Adidas will be bringing a number of reps from its Portland, Ore. based headquarters for the game.
If Nike grabbed the early alternate uniform spotlight with its guinea pig at Oregon, Adidas which outfits NU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas A and UCLA, among other schools has taken some of the attention with its own spin on the alternate look. The Adidas “Techfit” uniforms which Daniels said are 30 percent lighter than regular uniforms and offer 17 percent better range of motion provide the substance behind the style.
The design emphasis: Building on traditional school logos and concepts with bold color, accents and special accessories, like the new Smoke gloves and shoes that Nebraska and Wisconsin players will wear Saturday. Daniels said a specific department with more than 50 designers, marketing experts and administrators manages the handful of alternate looks each year.
“It’s an all hands on deck effort,” Daniels said.
When the Wolverines showed off their futuristic throwbacks vs. Notre Dame last September the first night game in Michigan history Daniels thought Adidas had “nailed it” in concept and design. The centered school logo. The number on the shoulder pad. Bright. Identifiable on TV.
Daniels said that not long after that game Adidas America pinpointed the Nebraska Wisconsin matchup as an opportunity to build on Michigan’s look. The plan solidified by the end of the last season, and Adidas started showing Osborne design concepts. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, Daniels said, wanted to make sure players and high school prospects would like it.
“Bo asked a lot about athlete feedback,
” Daniels said.
Although Adidas didn’t specifically survey Husker players, Adidas reps occasionally attend practice and pose questions about look and fit in that environment. Osborne rejected a few ideas, approved the current look and the final version was uploaded to YouTube in late July, while Nebraska attended Big Ten media days.
Of all the 2012 YouTube videos featuring alternate uniforms by Adidas, Nike, any brand Nebraska’s look remains No. 1 in viewers, Daniels said. Maryland, outfitted by Under Armour, is No. 2. Notre Dame, which is ditching its classic all gold helmet for a two tone look in its “Shamrock Series” game vs. Miami, is No. 3. Oregon is fourth.
“It tells me we’re doing something pretty well,” Daniels said.
But Nebraska’s look has drawn criticism. It comes with the territory, Daniels said. Pleasing everyone is not an option in fashion. When crafting an alternate look, Daniels said, Adidas keeps three priorities:
” Does it honor or incorporate the school’s tradition in some way? This is where the old school “N” logo comes into play for the Huskers, and the picture of the fighting leprechaun figures into Notre Dame’s alternate helmet.
“If we check off those three boxes, then we can handle all the criticism from the alumni who never want to change anything,” Daniels said. Or the folks who clamor for Nebraska to sign with Nike, which produces its own line of love it/hate it alternate uniforms and just won the contract for the NFL’s uniforms.
Yes, Daniels said, Adidas and Nike are fierce rivals. Their American headquarters are 13 miles and 21 minutes apart from each other in Portland. Daniels said the two organizations have “very different partners” in college sports.
“If we execute our game plan, it doesn’t matter what they do on the other side of the line of scrimmage,” said Daniels, invoking a football analogy. And Daniels said Nebraska athletes never ask about Nike only what’s coming next from Adidas.
Perhaps another Husker alternate uniform in 2013. Daniels said Adidas would like to produce one per year. The company typically meets with its member schools at the American Football Coaches Association Convention each year. In 2013, that’s Jan. 6 9 in Nashville.