Reactions mixed on Northwestern’s tribute jerseys

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The back of the alternate jerseys Northwestern will wear Saturday against Iowa. (Jordan Ray/Medill)

By Jordan Ray

The Northwestern Wildcats football team will take Ryan Field this weekend, sporting a new look meant to honor one of the school’s most successful teams of all time. But reactions are mixed.

Northwestern unveiled the jerseys, which commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1995 team that won a Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl, on Monday at the Under Armour Brand House.

“A great tribute to that team,” said coach Pat Fitzgerald, who played on the 1995 team, “and hopefully we’ll prepare and play with that type of vigor and passion that [they] did.”

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The front of the alternate jerseys Northwestern will wear Saturday against Iowa. (Jordan Ray/Medill)

The Wildcats will officially debut the jerseys this Saturday when they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in Northwestern’s homecoming game, during which the 1995 team will be recognized.

Despite a 42-31 loss in the Rose Bowl against No. 12 USC, the 1995 Wildcats remain one of Northwestern’s most successful teams ever. They finished 10-2 overall and went undefeated in conference play, securing the school’s sixth Big Ten title.

The black jerseys feature an ‘N-Cat’ logo on each shoulder as well as a collar patch emblazoned with the Rose Bowl logo. The team is expected to pair the jerseys with its usual purple helmets and pants.

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The Rose Bowl collar patch (left) and ‘N-Cat’ shoulder logo (right) that will be featured on Northwestern’s uniforms this Saturday. (Jordan Ray/Medill)

Northwestern professor Linda Roethke, who specializes in costume design, said she likes the look of the front of the jersey and the collar patch, but has concerns about the logos on the shoulders.

“[I’m] not as sure about how the design reads from a distance, the negative space Wildcat,” Roethke said.

On social media, reactions to the jerseys are running the gamut.

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Northwestern fan Lauren Hart said she “understands the idea of going back to simplicity,” but feels the jerseys aren’t recognizable enough.

“They look like they could be worn at any other university,” Hart said. “Northwestern’s jerseys are recognizable and unique. This jersey just doesn’t do it for me.”

The Wildcats are no strangers to unique uniform combinations. Since partnering with Under Armour in 2012, Northwestern has rolled out a different look each season.

Below is a timeline of Northwestern’s uniform history since making the switch from Adidas to Under Armour.

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On the heels of a 38-0 loss to Michigan, Northwestern may have to play like the 1995 team, not just look like them, if they hope to hand the undefeated Hawkeyes their first loss.

Kickoff for Northwestern-Iowa is at 11 a.m. from Ryan Field.

Photo at top: The back of the alternate jerseys Northwestern will wear Saturday against Iowa. (Jordan Ray/Medill)