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December 18, 2012

Wolverines react to Outback Bowl uniforms

From the late-1930s, when Michigan first adopted the famous maize-and-blue winged helmets, to 2010, the iconic uniforms hardly changed at all.

Tuesday, the Wolverines announced they would be wearing the fifth alternative uniform since unveiling their special uniforms for the Under The Lights game vs. Notre Dame in 2011.

Michigan will wear a new uniform combination in the Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina Jan. 1.

The uniform is similarly themed to the one worn in the season-opening loss to Alabama. Instead of swathing the shoulders in bright maize, the jerseys' shoulders are navy blue.

The most unique feature of the new uniform is the matte-finished helmet. Matte helmets have gained favor across the country, though Michigan added a twist: instead of employing an entirely matte-finished helmet, just the blue is matte. The maize wings are still shiny.

"I like them. I think they're pretty unique, pretty special," fifth-year senior safety Jordan Kovacs said. "We like to wear our unique uniforms in big games, special games. This is a big game for our seniors. It will be fun. They look good."

"Coach Hoke, before the season started, brought us some and said, 'Okay, if we make a bowl game, we're thinking about wearing a new uniform.' He just wanted our input."

Kovacs also likes the helmets, although some fans have voiced their displeasure over tinkering with the most famous lid in college football.

"It's a little different. It has the matte technology," Kovacs said. "I don't even know what that means, but that's what they've been telling me. I like how they stuck with the tradition. They still have the winged helmet. It's got two block 'Ms,' on the shoulder, and I think it looks pretty cool."

"I think it's fun. It's something different. It doesn't really matter to me what we wear, but I think these uniforms look nice, and I think my teammates do as well."

Fifth-year senior offensive guard Patrick Omameh also endorsed the new look.

"I like the bowl uniforms," he said. "I am a fan of the matte look. I have been looking at them over the last couple days, and I really like them. It's a different look, more modern. It's something we don't usually do.

"Anything you can do to change it up a little bit and throw in some flair, it's always keep it interesting."

The alternative uniforms seem to be here to stay. How crazy will they get?

"With Coach Hoke, you don't have to worry too much about getting carried away with it," Kovacs said with a smile.

U-M's One-Off Uniforms, 2011 & 2012

Worn: Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Notre Dame
Background: Michigan unveiled special uniforms to wear in the first-ever night game in Michigan Stadium history. The uniform incorporated themes from historical Wolverine uniforms, dating all the way back to the 1880s. Notre Dame also wore special uniforms.
Outcome: Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31
Best Feature: The unique 'M' on the chest was both complimentary of the past and innovative toward the future. Nebraska and Wisconsin have since copied the look.

Worn: Oct. 15, 2011at Michigan State
Background: As part of the famed "Nike ProCombat" line, Michigan State planned to wear special uniforms for the Michigan game. After warming up in their normal road uniforms, the Wolverines changed into these just before kickoff.
Outcome: Michigan State 28, Michigan 14
Best Feature: Although these were roundly despised by fans, the solid-blue numbers - with no maize piping to outline them - were a nice touch. They popped on the white of the jersey.

Worn: Jan. 3, 2012 vs. Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl
Background: The Wolverines planned to commemorate their unexpected rise to the BCS with a special uniform. After two loud alternative jerseys against Notre Dame and Michigan State, Michigan toned down its approach for the bowl with more conservative striping on the shoulders.
Outcome: Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 (OT)
Best Feature: The entire jerseys. If Michigan made this its permanent road jersey, no one would complain.

Worn: Sept. 1, 2012 vs. Alabama in Dallas, Texas
Background: It's not every day that a team opens the season against the defending national champions. The Wolverines wanted to make a splash with special - and bright - uniforms, adding maize swaths on shoulders. The A.D. also stated these would be the last special uniforms of the 2012 regular season.
Outcome: Alabama 41, Michigan 14
Best Feature: Like the Michigan State uniforms, the solid numbers looked pretty good.

Worn: Jan. 1, 2013 vs. South Carolina in the Outback Bowl
Background: The Wolverines set a precedent with alternative uniforms for bowl games last season. Only time will tell if this will be an every-year occurrence. Interestingly, Michigan, as the home team, was given the choice to wear blue or white jerseys and decided to go with the latter.
Outcome: ?
Best Feature: The matte-finished blue on the helmet is a nice touch, though it would have been more pronounced if the wings were matte, too.

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