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Entries in Big Ten (4)

Saturday
Jan262013

Uni Analysis: The 2012-13 Wildcats (From The NUni Tracker)

An historic season is in the books for the Northwestern Wildcats. The third 10 win season in school history, the first bowl win since 1949 and Coach Fitz moved into sole ownership of the title of winningest head coach in Northwestern history.

As I have done over at the Hoosier Tracker the last two years, I have decided to go element by element and analyze which uniform elements and combinations were the most successful for the 'Cats this past season. So let's get to it and start with the uni combinations:

Purple/Purple/Black: 4-0 33 PFPG 16.5 PAPG

This combo was the most worn combination all season. Of the combinations worn more than once, this one had the most stout defense and was second in points for per game. What is truly amazing, though, is the disparity in points for and against, especially considering that the Vanderbilt and Illinois wins were not in this combination. While it is a solid, winning look, I would still like to see some Purple/Purple/White next season.

America/Purple/Black: 1-0 23 PFPG 13 PAPG

Behold the Vanderbilt game. The first home game in the uniforms and Coach Fitz has to go and slap a flag themed logo on the helmets because it's early-middle September. Listen, I get that you have a relationship with some military members and you go do that training session in Wisconsin every year, but September 11th was not a military attack and probably barely directly affected anyone on this particular football team. What you do to honor servicemen and women at halftime and during games is commendable, this silly decal? It feels like a gimmick - something well beneath what people who serve deserve.

Black/Black/Black: 0-1 28 PFPG 29 PAPG

1. The first all black uniform in school history.

2. The first black helmet in school history.

3. The first helmet to feature a logo different from the 'N' since 1980(The Adidas one-off helmet had no logo, only numbers).

This set will be known as a history making set for many reasons. Unfortunately, it'll be best known for being worn when Northwestern blew a two score lead in the fourth quarter against Nebraska. All black? Not a good look for the 'Cats...

Black/Black/Purple: 1-0 50 PFPG 14 PAPG

I believe Northwestern played a high school this game. What's that? Illinois? Sheesh, I hope they fired that guy who got two sideline interference penalties. NO‽ See you in Champaign, Illini!

But in all seriousness, this look would be GREAT, with the normal helmet. It would be a nod to the success of the mid '90s and early aughts and would still be part of this great modern Under Armour set. Also, please don't ever wear that helmet again, the logo just doesn't work like that and the silver and black makes it nearly invisible.

 

Black/Purple/Black: 1-0 34 PFPG 20 PAPG

The first bowl win since 1949 and the Wildcats wore a purple jersey with a strongly featured Northwestern Stripe, what could be wrong?

A: The helmet. Now, let's be clear, I don't even mind that they wore the matte black helmet again - Black/Purple/Black, in and of itself, is not a bad look - but the logo was damn near invisible again and while I'm glad it was the iconic 'N', Had it been purple or white, I would've been in love. This uniform is a nice change from the norm, but I like the idea of Purple/Black/Purple even more.

 

Purple/White/White: 1-2 33.7 PFPG 39.3 PAPG

The only uniform set with a worse points against average than points for, there is just one, simple, undeniable take away: Don't wear the white pants with the white jersey anymore. That should be an easy concept, as Northwestern has - in the past - rocked both purple (think Darnell Autry) and black (think Zak Kustok) pants on the road to great success.

 

Purple/White/Black: 2-0 22 PFPG 16.5 PAPG

The clear road uniform leader in the clubhouse. I still hope to see purple pants on the road next season, but the black is a nice look with ties to the successful recent past.

Purple Helmet: 7-2 30.8 PFPG 24.1 PAPG

The classic, standard Northwestern helmet had a helluva season. Not the most successful on offense or defense, the helmet had a somewhat unremarkable season. However, it's still the best lid the 'Cats wear, in my book.

America Helmet: 1-0 23 PFPG 13 PAPG

As said above, this was the Vanderbilt game. It's just not a good logo. Please dump it.

Black Cat Helmet: 1-1 39 PFPG 21.5 PAPG

In it's two appearances, the outcomes could not have been different: A blown lead against Nebraska and blowout against Illinois. The 'Cats were going to beat Illinois if they came out of the locker room naked, so really this helmet should be judged by its performance against the Huskers. Not good. Retire it.

Black 'N' Helmet: 1-0 34 PFPG 20 PAPG

You can't argue with the first bowl victory in 64 years, can you? It's not a bad helmet, but it isn't as good as it could be. Helluva win though...

Purple Jersey: 6-0 31.8 PFPG 16.5 PAPG

Both undefeated and the best defensive jersey. The purple jersey is both successful and one of the best new jerseys of 2012. Highlights include the bowl win, two victories over SEC teams and a points for to points allowed ratio of almost two to one. Tough to beat out the Purple as Northwestern's best new jersey.

Black Jersey: 1-1 39 PFPG 21.5 PAPG

While the most offensively explosive jersey, the black jersey was a mixed bag this season. Just like the Black Cat helmet, this jersey was there for a season high and a season low. Now, if the 'Cats were to pair this jersey with the purple helmet and pants, I could almost root for that to be the dominant home set, but alas, we'll have to wait until next season to see if my dream comes true.

White Jersey: 3-2 29 PFPG 30.2 PAPG

Worn for every road game, I think any 'Cat fan can take away a few lessons:

1. The black pants saved this jersey's record.

2. If at all possible, don't play road games.

Obviously, the points for to points against ratio is bad, but it's tough to win on the road. This jersey should be commended for it's boldness, unlike the other jerseys, the Northwestern Stripe is so bold it cannot be ignored. It's a great look and I can't wait to see it with the purple pants.

Black Pants: 8-1 29 PFPG 17.9 PAPG

Worn nine time, these pants have an amazing record. Their only loss is the Nebraska game, but we can blame that on the Black Cat helmet. This amazing record should be taken note when it comes to road games. I love the black pants, but they still aren't my favorite.

Purple Pants: 1-0 50 PFPG 14 PAPG

This is the Illinois game. The only time they were worn, the 'Cats played their most dominant game. Take note Fitz, the purple nickers need to be worn more often. These are the best pants of the bunch.

Purple Pants: 1-2 33.7 PFPG 39.3 PAPG

Worn only on the road, I wish we could've seen these at least once at home. Perhaps next season I'll get my wish...

 

 

 

Well, that's 2012-13 in a uniform. It was an amazing season in which things I hadn't ever seen from a Northwestern team seemed to happen every week - even before the season started - and that culminated in a dream come true: A Bowl Victory.

Go U Northwestern.

Friday
Sep302011

B1G Rivalries

This weekend, BigTen conference football returns and so do BigTen rivalry games.

Earlier this month, I posted my concepts and tweaks for all 12 BigTen teams here and on the wonderful SportsLogos.net, showing what I thought the schools should wear every game. Some people over at SportsLogos noticed that many of my designs a fairly traditional and/or pretty close to what most BigTen teams currently wear.

Heeding this criticism, I decided to create what I referred to as a 'Rivalry Series' (although inspiration credit goes to this guy here). What follows are six rivalry games, their special uniforms and descriptions. Enjoy:

The Bucket Game - IU vs PU

Indiana: I bring back my much beloved candy-striped pants but pair them with (a variation of) their actual 2011 jersey. The helmet matches their current lid and features the iconic interlocking 'IU'.

Now, originally, my design showed a candy striped helmet and that the compression shirt sleeves and the socks not matching, but that was because each individual player could either wear vertical or horizontal stripes - so long as they wear all matching - allowing for fun customization while still being 'uniform'.

However, I scrapped both those ideas and returned the standard helmet and unified all the stripes.

Purdue: As this years visitors, Purdue comes to The Rock wearing all old gold. The 'P' logos; helmet, shoulder and pants stripes; and numbers all sink up to match: Black trimming White. The numbers are a modern variation of classic varsity block. Finally, the compression shirt and socks are Boiler black.

The Land of Lincoln Game - U of I vs NU

Illinois: The Illini host this year's Sweet Sioux Tomahawk game Land of Lincoln game, and they come onto (a) Memorial Stadium* wearing fauxbacks to a simpler time. Three simple stripes grace the shoulders and pants. A rounded version of the state name appears on the helmet (as opposed to "Illini" which has appeared on the lid in the past). Only blue and orange grace the uni (except the shoes), just like it was back in the day.

Northwestern: The Wildcats are also donning a fauxback of sorts. The white helmet is inspired by this helmet from NU history. The jersey is basically their current road uni with the addition of the 'N-Cat' logo while the pants have a purple double stripe that give the 'Cats a sleek, clean look.

The Heroes Game - NU vs UI - There isn't much history in this 'rivalry' game so I manufacture some from the uniforms:

Nebraska: As the home team, Nebraska comes out in a uniform that honors many of their best teams from their long, storied history. While the helmet design is the same as the one's they've worn since 1970, the red facemask harkens back to 1982. The jersey focuses on both those eras as well. The shoulder numbers are from the 1970 unis while the sleeve 'N's are from the 1983 team.

The pants are from both eras but the red belt screams 1983. The black shoes and white socks go through many generations of Huskers.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes come into (a) Memorial Stadium wearing fauxbacks to their 1958 National Championship team. While Iowa has worn fauxbacks to this era before, they've never worn the road version of these before. That's a shame, because those were some beautious unis. The moving of the stripes from the sleeves to the shoulders is just for player continuity (no lost stripes due to lack of undershirt).

Also, the facemask is unapologetically black.

Paul Bunyan's Ax Game - UW vs Minn - One of the Best rivalry trophies in all of sports deserves some great unis:

Wisconsin: The home team in 2011 comes out wearing something like nothing you've ever seen take the field at Camp Randall. The helmet is a variation of the current helmet that rids the flying W of it's unnecessary drop shaddow. This harkens back to most of Wisconsin's history, when the helmets were only white and red.

The Jersey is simple yet completely original. The shoulders are adorned with stripes that will quickly remind any UW fan of Bucky Badger. While the pants are almost identical to their current set, the socks pick up on the Bucky Badger theme and run with it all the way to victory.

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers have a tough task winning in Camp Randall. This Fauxback set calls upon the predecessors of this Minnesota football squad to lead them back to the path of victory and BigTen supremacy. The undershirt features Goldy Gopher's double stripe (just like my other concepts) and gold become predominant to remind the team of their victorious and glorious past.

The Land Grant Game - PSU vs MSU

Penn State: The home team for this game will march into Happy Valley with a uniform that will be very recognizable to it's fans and opponents. While there are some design changes (many of them have a fauxback feel) the biggest difference may be the color on the uniform.

The Blue on these unis are more royal blue than the current navy blue unis the Nittany Lions currently wear. This is a throwback to an earlier era. Combine that with helmet numbers, the return of white jersey accents and a singular, thin blue stripe on the pants and Penn State has a modern update of a classic uniform.

Michigan State: The Spartans recently unveiled a new Nike Pro Combat uniform for 2011. However, I disagree with Nike's use of Bronze and Black on MSU's uniforms, particularly since MSU is named after a group of people who are famous for wearing red. But Michigan State's colors are green and white and as such, those are the only colors I use on this uni.

The shoulders of jersey pop thanks to a green field that adorns them which flows nicely into the optional green compression with an updated version of MSU's 'S' logo. While the jersey numbers revert to a more traditional font, the university mark is updated to match the 'S' logo font. Thick white stripes grace both the helmet, pants and socks and help unify this uniform.

The Big Game - UM vs OSU

Michigan: As a BigTen alumnus, it's very hard for me to conceive Michigan wearing anything but their normal helmets, blue jerseys and maze pants at The Big House. I actually liked the fauxback they wore against Notre Dame, but I didn't want to re-tread the ground Adidas already walked. Instead, I made minor changes to the current home uni and left one of the best lids in all of sports untouched.

The jersey gets an 'M' logo sewn onto the shoulder as sort of a 'pride-patch'. While a player's name and number are usually the only thing to grace a Wolverine uni, I wanted the 'M' to be on there to remind the players that the glory of the game should go to Michigan.

While I added a blue belt to the pants, I removed the 'M' logo from them just to simplify the uni even more. The shoes and compression shirt are team colors but I'm not sure how much even I am digging the maze sleeves.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes are Nike Pro Combat veterans at this point. With the theme of most of their NPC unis being 'fauxback' I continue this trend with a look back to the late '60s (just on the cusp of one of their greatest eras like hopefully this will be).

While I could not find the exact specifics of the road uniform that matches this helmet, these jerseys, pants and socks probably approximate the jersey pretty well. The differing color TV numbers are a signature part of OSU's look from this era and the Northwestern stripes that adorn the helmet, jersey, pants and socks unify this set as a world class Ohio State uniform.

Well, that about wraps that up. You may have noticed the two new templates I was using. I'm proud to say that I created both of them and the one that features both the front and back of the uni has been improved even since I created these B1G concepts.

I'm currently working on doing some ACC and SEC stuff in this new template which I'll bring to you as soon as I can.

Happy tweakin'...

*With Nebraska now in the B1G, there are three Memorial Stadiums in the conference (U of I, IU and OU).

Tuesday
Sep062011

B1G Revisions

The air is cooling while the spicy sweet smell of processed meat and charcoal wafts through the air - it must be fall BigTen football season.

While my Wildcats and Hoosier are back on the gridiron, I'm back in the workshop fine-tuning the BigTen concepts I came up with a few months back.

Now, unlike my Pac-12 concepts, most of the BigTen's teams have well established uniform tradition that I don't want to mess with. Never the less, I found at least one thing to tweak on almost every uniform. So Let's get right to it:

Illinois - Home, Road, Road Alt:

A pretty serious overhaul here. I go back to much more classical striping and a reduction of the Oregon-esque innumerable amount of uni combinations. Orange pants are my go-to road pants but I like the blue pants as a secondary option.

Indiana - Home, Road, Bucket Game Alt:

This was almost how the Hoosiers looked a few years back. Now, they're back to their best Oklahoma impression (including white pants on the road if the Ball State game is any sign. Sigh.) I go back to the double stripe helmet, add double stripes to the shoulders and keep the double stripe pants (white at home, red on the road).

And I am one of the many Hoosiers who thinks that the Bucket game should feature special unis whenever possible, so I bring back my candy-striped pants for the occasion.

Iowa - Home, Road:

Here is my first use of the stripes on the compression shirt. These Steeler inspired uniforms just look better when the stripes are in full bloom. The Hawkeyes are also the first team with full length socks, but this is not a change from the norm for them, they've bean wearing socks like these for years.

Michigan - Home, Road:

No real change for the Home (although I changed the socks to blue) but the Road eliminates and superfluous yellow piping.

Michigan State - Home, Road, Home Alt, Road Alt 1, Road Alt 2:

Michigan State's current uniform set has all the accoutrement of a hastily done 'modern' uniform: Stupid font, useless stripes and colors out of the color scheme. I go back to only green and white. I do like the idea of very wide stripes on the helmets and pants so I added those (although the Home Alt gets rid of those for a more traditional look).

The Road Alts are fairly similar to the regular Road uni but the first is based off of this image and the other just uses green pants.

Minnesota - Home, Road, Home Alt, Road Alt:

Minnesota's current unis are terrible. I return the Golden Gophers to a much more traditional look and give them a unique asymmetrical sleeve stripe based on their mascot.

Nebraska - Home, Road, Home D Alt, Road D Alt:

Nebraska hardly changes, although their current sleeve stripes appear much larger than my version. And if you're gunna call the defense the Blackshirts, they might as well wear black (under)shirts.

Northwestern - Home, Road, Home Alt:

I ditch black pants, recolor the Northwestern sleeve stripes (which are now on the compression shirt) and return the logo to the shoulders. The pants are double striped and while I bring back the BFBS Home Alt, I would keep its use to a minimum.

Ohio State - Home, Road:

Basically all I did to the Buckeyes was keep the pants stripe more in line with the helmet and sleeve and replace the gray on the current road sleeve stripe with white.

Penn State - Home, Road:

I return the trim the collar and sleeve, other than that, you can't improve on perfection.

Purdue - Home, Road, Road Alt:

Purdue's new uni's stink and I go back to a more traditional look for the fools from West Lafayette. The numbers on the Home and Road Alt are gold, which I think is a really nice look.

Wisconsin - Home, Road:

Almost no change here, the only thing I do with them is insist that they never wear red pants. At Home there's just too much red and with the Road, it makes them look even more like Nebraska (something they don't need any help doing).

Those are my new BigTen concepts. I know most are pretty traditional but hopefully people will like them.

Until next time.

Wednesday
Jul202011

Indiana Déjà Vu

Yesterday, Indiana announced a new uniform set for 2011. While anything is an improvement over this, I'm not sure just going back to this was the best idea ever.

A few weeks back, I had hopes that this would be IU's uniform next year. Aside from that silly collar, that's almost exactly what I wanted out of the Hoosiers' unis.

But, alas, the Hoosiers disappointed me yet again. The uniform - seen here and to the right - along with the helmet (at the bottom) are basically throwbacks to the Terry Hoeppner era.

And actually the new IU unis look a lot like my over-the-top IU concept, down to the overly fat uni numbers - except for the numbers on the compression sleeves, and the candy-stripped pants.

Compare: 2011 uni  vs. O’B. Candy-stripe.

Let's start with the helmet. I like the white facemask but that's where my love affair quickly ends. The only redeeming feature of the 2010 uniforms was the double stripe helmet.

Originally a one game throwback with a block I, the double stripe helmet from recent Hoosier past was so popular it was the new standard uniform helmet THE NEXT GAME and then continued to be for the next three seasons.

While the Hoosiers aren't the only red cap in the BigTen (Minnesota flirts with a red helmet), IU could at least continue having a unique red lid while they’re at it.

As for the jerseys, they're way too boring. Maybe add some stripes to the bottom of the sleeves, or maybe go with sleeve numbers rather than pad numbers, or go for what IU fans really want, the double stripe theme all over.

The Hoosiers were just shoulder stripes away from that design two years ago and they were a pair of pants (and that stoopid side blotch on the jersey) from having it last season. Keep it simple but don't make us an Oklahoma knockoff again (I mean, Riddell already thinks we're interchangable).

And please, for Christ's sake, remove the "For the Glory Of Old IU" from the inside of the collar.

Final Grades:

The Helmet - Love the facemask, hate (like, loath) the lack of stripes. Grade: D | Uni-Watch.com Scale: Seriously Stupid

The Jersey - No side blotches, but no stripes whatsoever. Grade: B- | Uni-Watch.com Scale: Good but could be Great

The Pants - Back to the ol' double stripe. Grade: A+ (so long as they wear red pants on the road) | Uni-Watch.com Scale: Great

Overall, two steps forward, one step back: B- (which is a vast improvement from the D- that was last year.)