No longer will Northwestern football merely be known for its high-octane spread offense, its suspect defense or its 63-year bowl victory drought.
Now one of the Wildcats' signatures will also be a prominent horizontal stripe previously reserved for rugby shirts or soccer jerseys.
The stripe across the sleeves, chest and back is the most striking and unusual feature of the new Northwestern football uniforms Under Armour unveiled Thursday. The Wildcats will debut the more subtle home uniform against Syracuse on Sept. 1 and the splashier road jerseys at Vanderbilt on Sept. 8.
Under Armour included the design element as an homage to the "Northwestern stripe," the school's signature thin-thick-thin striping pattern that it pioneered in 1928, paving the way for it to spread throughout the world of sports. Most assumed the pattern would go on Northwestern's socks or sleeves when Under Armour indicated it wanted the stripe to be part of the new jerseys, but the designers had a bolder option in mind.
"Under Armour is dedicated to making all athletes better through innovation and design and the new Northwestern uniforms are the perfect example of blending best-in-class technology with the University's rich football heritage," Under Armour's Matt Mirchin said in a statement. "We are excited to see these uniforms take the field and look forward to providing the entire Northwestern athletic department with a unique, cohesive look."
Reaction to the jerseys has been largely positive among Northwestern fans thus far.
Gushed one fan on Wildcat Report, "I think UA and NU hit a home run with these."
Wrote another, "It will take some getting used to, but it's bold, it's unique, and it will garner a lot of attention. My guess is that 17-year-olds will love them."
As with all jersey changes, that is the key. If recruits want to wear them, it won't be long before traditionalists come around too.