Football ready to unveil new look
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois could wear a different football uniform for every game this season.
And not sport the same look through next season, too.
The Illini will get the opportunity to unveil their first new look Saturday against Youngstown State after the mid-April Nike rebranding. All told, Illinois has 27 possible different combinations. Orange, navy blue and white helmets could match with either orange, navy blue and white tops, along with orange, navy blue and white pants.
The new helmets are featured on the front of the Illinois media guide this season, with the white helmet and orange helmet facing one another.
“From what I’ve seen, they’re all pretty nice,” Illinois running back Josh Ferguson said. “I think it’d be pretty cool to rock the orange jerseys and the white helmets, though.”
The white helmets, which feature an orange Block I, are a popular choice when talking to many Illini.
“I like the white helmets,” linebacker Mason Monheim said. “They just look good, look nice and look clean.”
“They’re just different,” he said. “I’m pretty familiar with the orange, so anything unique at this point would be pretty cool.”
Tim Beckman hasn’t tipped his hand about what particular combination Illinois will use against the Penguins. The Illinois coach let the seniors select what uniforms the Illini wore last season.
Quarterback Wes Lunt likes the white helmets, too, but is more apt to seeing what the Illini look like in any orange attire.
“Anything we have is going to look good,” said Lunt, who indicated he’s a fan of the white helmets. “The orange is going to look sharp. The tradition of orange is what I like.”
Beckman and his coaching staff made sure to bring up the new look when visiting recruits this offseason. Plus, any time someone goes in Beckman’s second-floor office at Memorial Stadium, all one had to do was look at the glass coffee table and see the new helmets Illinois will don for the first time this season.
“Ours is a classy look,” Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said. “That’s what I always tell the kids, and the recruits say the exact same thing.”
In the end, though, Monheim echoes a sentiment shared by other players. They don’t have a particular preference about what they’ll look like when they take the field Saturday.
“I don’t really care,” Monheim said. “I just want to put them on and get out there.”
Dressed to thrill
Staff writer Bob Asmussen has seen plenty of uniform changes in 25 years covering Illinois football. Here is his take from the classic to the current:
Mike White era
“Illini” on the orange helmets with the orange facemasks. Picture Jack Trudeau firing a pass to a wide-open David Williams.
2001 Big Ten champions
The continuation of the New York Giants-style lettering on the orange helmets. Picture David Diehl blocking for Kurt Kittner.
2008 Rose Bowl
White jerseys, white pants, bad loss to Southern Cal. Picture J Leman crying on his way off the field.
2014 You look marvelous
Enough combinations to wear something different every day of the month. It’s modern. It’s techno. Will it help Illinois win more games? Maybe. To quote Billy Crystal’s Fernando, “It is better to look good than to feel good.”