By Bryan Redemske
It’s springtime in Nebraska, which can mean only one thing: football. Actually, every season — and every situation you could possibly encounter in Nebraska — means football. I’m not kidding.
The big news of the past five months has been Bill Callahan’s firing and Bo Pelini’s return as the head coach of the Huskers. Big changes have come with Pelini, including reviving the tradition of not pissing off everybody in the entire state on a daily basis. But what about uniform changes? I originally called Nebraska equipment manager Jay Terry to see if anything different was planned, starting with the spring game, but ended up with something else entirely. First, though, here’s the deal at the dawn of the Pelini era:
• Up until 2005, Nebraska wore practice jerseys and pants for the spring game. That year, the Huskers went with game jerseys. The change came from Callahan’s practice regimen: offense in white, defense in red. Always. None of the offensive players had red jerseys anymore, so game jerseys had to be used to facilitate the random switching of sides that are a hallmark of spring scrimmages. “There’s no need to order a white jersey for someone who might never use it,” Terry explained. This year, they’ll still wear game jerseys but Pelini will go back to standard clothing procedure in the fall. The offense will wear either home or away practice jerseys each week.
• Pre-2006, helmets and decals for the spring game were pretty random. Some were completely blank, some had stripes but no N (almost all from 2005 were like this), some had it all. Since then, they’ve all been game-ready. This year, the Huskers spent the first week of spring practice breaking in new helmets, decals and all. They were collected at the end of the week and will be used in the spring game. In the fall, those helmets will be the practice set. “We’ll be scrubbing them for the game, and then they’ll be ready to go for the fall,” Terry said.
• Everybody wears white pants for the scrimmage. Again, it’s for easy switches during the game.
• Notice how some jerseys still have the bowl patches? There’s a reason for that. “I keep all of the players’ jerseys, and once they graduate, they get all of them,” Terry said. “So when they’re done they have their Cotton Bowl or Alamo Bowl jerseys. They’d rather have that patch than have us strip them off for a spring game.”
Of course, most schools probably do something similar, but imagine being in a program for four or five years and leaving with all of your jerseys. That’s pretty cool.
But this is where things take a detour. That’s Jammal Lord from 2001, and that’s a lot of numbers. The 201 on the right side is the area code of his hometown, Bayonne, N.J. The 10 above that is his jersey number. The 19 above his eyes actually wraps around to say 1981, which is the year he was born. Sadly, I can’t find any pics of the left side of the helmet. I’m sure there’s something going on there, too.
But what’s stumping both Terry and myself is the blue-and-red sticker above the 2 in 201. We’ve figured out what it isn’t. It’s not an Alamo Bowl sticker — they didn’t have them for the 2000 game. It’s not the NCAA pennant logo — Nebraska wore all-red pennant logos in 2000 and 2001. So what is it? And as a bonus, here are two more Huskers with extra helmet adornment, both from 2001. Wild times in Lincoln. Wild times, indeed.
Other quick spring practice things:
• Penn State really, really would like you to not hit some of its players, though I guess it’s possible those are special prayer jerseys.
• Word on the street in Minneapolis is that the Golden Gophers will break out their new uniforms during the April 25 spring game.
• Contrary to what most people seem to think, Michigan is still a Nike school, at least until the end of the current academic year, so don’t let the
occasional omnipresent swoosh throw you off.
Why is this ad different from all other ads?: Paul here. As baseball and Passover approach their annual confluence, my heart is heavy with grief: The fabled Streit’s factory is shutting down, Manischewitz is facing a Tam Tam shortage (which could prompt the Jewish version of the Irish Potato Famine), and MLB’s longtime reigning Hebe, Shawn Green, got no contract offers over the winter and has chosen to hang up his spikes (mainly so he won’t track mud on his mother’s nice clean floor — such a good boy).
But all is not lost, my children. As you can see to the right of today’s headline, our friends at PopJudaica.com are celebrating the holy commingling of the chosen game and the chosen people with their swanky Jews for Jeter T-shirt (available here, and don’t forget their other sports-related products). Now, granted, as all New Yorkers know, the Yankees are actually the Catholic team in this town (think about it: DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Crosetti, Lazzeri, Pepitone, Cerone, Righetti, Torre, Martin, Girardi, Giuliani, Francessa, etc., plus the Pope held mass at Yankee Stadium and even has a plaque in Monument Park), while the Jewish fan base leans more toward the Mets (do a yarmulke count at Shea and compare it to what you’d see in the Bronx — no contest), but hey, I’d happily make a batch of matzo brei for Derek Jeter anytime. Just don’t push it by asking me to make an extra batch for A-Rod.
Anyway: Cool shirt, cool company, really cool that they’re celebrating the season by advertising with Uni Watch. Please give them a look.
NCAA Contest Update: At this very moment, Vince is hard at work, tabulating the results of the college hoops tourney contest. Winners to be announced tomorrow.
Uni Watch News Ticker: “I wanted to send you some pics of the Cup Stacking Championship [which is actually called the World Sport Stacking Championships — PL],” writes David Chisholm. “Teams wear jerseys or T-shirts. Also note the eye black being worn by one of the teams, and while this team had logo creep, an American flag, and the Texas state flag. The referees wear yellow T-shirts with zebra-striped bibs. The cups themselves have the Speed Stacks logo on them.” Looks like these kids all have bright futures as waitresses, busboys, and the like, which works out perfectly, since that’s the only kind of job our service-oriented economy creates anymore. … The mystery of the Rangers’ red-T road cap, which is never worn even though it’s still listed as the team’s official road headwear, deepens: Yesterday I quoted a source saying that the team doesn’t even bother to keep any of the red-T caps on hand. But now Bryan has come up with this shot, taken during the press conference to announce the signing of pitcher Kazuo Fukumori. So apparently they had at least one road cap lying around. But why would they use that design to introduce their latest acquisition? … And then there’s this, from Jeff Brantley (no, not that Jeff Brantley): “The Rangers have had serious ‘T’ issues for years. Back in the ’90s when the Texas Rangers first switched from blue to red, I went to the store to get one of the new caps. The first ones available were red with a blue T shadowed in white. But the team was actually using a white T shadowed in blue, and they never used the blue T. After I realized that, I took it back to Foot Locker and they gave me my money back.” The bigger story here, of course, is that Jeff actually admits to having shopped at Foot Locker. … Bryan also confirms that the Twins’ navy alts did indeed have red outlining around the nameplate lettering on Sunday. … A few people complained that the photo of me at the pig-butchery class was too small, so here’s full-size version. … Really interesting query from Brian Carroll, who writes: “I’m watching highlights of the Houston Cougars teams of the ’80s, which reminds me that the uniform numbers on their red away uniforms were one higher than the ones on their white home uniforms. So Akeem (as it was spelled then) was 34 at home and 35 on the road. Do you know why that was, and whether any other teams have done that?” Actually, I was unaware of this (as many of you know, college hoops isn’t my strong suit). Anyone know more? … The White Sox and Blackhawks have formed a marketing partnership, and check out the photo accompanying the announcement (nice find by Sam McCullough). … Seattle’s new MLS team is up and running: Ladies and gentlemen, your Seattle Sounders. … Comments section stalwart Teebz has an NHL playoff pool running on his blog. Details here. … Word I’m hearing is that the Phillies may wear green BP jerseys for Earth Day. As you may recall, the Astros have already announced that they’ll be wearing green caps that day. … The Pirates waited until yesterday to announce that they’ll be wearing a jersey patch to celebrate Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary. … Meanwhile, Pirtes catcher Ronnie Paulino has become a Power Ranger. … Brilliant connect-the-dots work by Steven Brown, who was looking through this book and stumbled upon the apparent inspiration for Oregon’s uniforms. … Interesting custom figurine site here, featuring several rather atypical designs (nice find by Casey Bloom). … Ever wonder about that patch being worn by the San Francisco Seals soccer team? Yeah, me neither, but here’s lot of info about it anyway (with thanks to the self-exiled Kenn Tomasch). … Some more pics of those awesome NC State baseball unis here, here, and here (courtesy of the team’s equipment director, Jodie Cahoon). … Joseph Marchio was inspired by yesterday’s mashup entry to create an all-purpose Cleveland sports logo. “The ‘Cleveland’ wordmark is from the Indians, 1944-1957,” he writes. “The sword in the Dawg’s mouth is a combination of two current alternate Cavs logos. Obviously, the Dawg is a current alternate logo for the Browns, although I did add the teeth to it. And the 10 stars represent the Cleveland championships — eight for the Browns (four AAFC, four NFL) and two for the Indians.” But shouldn’t the Dawg have a black collar or something in memory of the Barons? … I don’t much care about the current league calling itself the ABA, and you probably don’t either. Fortunately, Kris Fulton does: “On March 14th/15th, Halifax had two home games against the Bahama All-Pro Show to close out their inaugural ABA season. The day before the first game, the visiting team cancelled, so the Halifax owner called Atlanta and flew in their team for the two-game set (at his own expense), rescheduling for Saturday/Sunday instead of Friday/Saturday. Naturally, bags get lost on the short-notice trip, and Atlanta ended up taking the floor in black Team Canada hockey T-shirts [and mismatched shorts — PL] with masking tape numbers [my favorite of which is this — PL]. Predictably, the numbers began falling off as the game went on. The team was properly equipped the following night for the second game. Shortly thereafter, Halifax’s owner announced that the team is leaving the ABA and is looking for another league, with his sights set on the D-League.” Lots of additional info and photos here. … Steve Johnston was at yesterday’s White Sox game and snapped this shot. “Obviously homemade,” notes Steve. “He said he’d been to all the places on the jacket.” … Assuming the combined forces of the Secret Service, the bouncers from Irving Plaza, and Superman can protect the Olympic flame from being extinguished, the American team will be outfitted by Ralph Lauren, whose concept sketch looks like this. Note that the shorts are slightly above the knee, which should be a revelation for most of the American basketball players (as forwarded by Nick Waters). … Speaking of the Olympic torch, some French participants in the torch relay may have broken the rules regarding attire. … Cool photo gallery here of the Georgia Dome being repainted (with thanks to Brent Hardman). … OK, that’s it: I am sick of seeing the noble sport of bowling repeatedly besmirched by Presidential politics. Memo to all candidates: You are not worthy of the lanes. Please stick to cup stacking.