There’s no better time to do a re-branding than when you’re still undefeated on the season and that’s just what Illinois is doing on Friday, unveiling a new look for the 2018 football season — and beyond — with a set of redesigned uniforms. As part of the new Nike Vapor Untouchable line, the program introduced a trio of jerseys (in navy blue, orange and white), three pairs of pants (in the same colors) and one new orange helmet to round things out.
Per the Illini release:
“The jerseys are bold, yet traditional in design, inspired by the Dick Butkus era jerseys of the 1960s. Illinois’ traditional block I logo remains prominent on the sides of the helmet and at the base of the collar. A unique two-column pattern is set in both the jerseys and the numbers as a nod to the historic columns at Memorial Stadium, which represent Illinois soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. “
It’s not just the traditional base uniforms that were released however, as the school is also paying tribute to Hall of Famer Red Grange by updating their annual ‘Gray Ghost’ homecoming uniforms as well. The entire outfit is a nod to Grange, who was nicknamed the “Galloping Ghost” when he was in Champaign (way) back in the day.
The gray uniforms aside, many have been quick to note that the base look for the Illinois looks almost exactly like what Syracuse wears outside of a few minor alterations. That’s probably not what the designers nor the school were going for but given the shade of orange involved, there probably wasn’t a ton for Nike or the Illini to work with.
Obviously the new uniforms are at least a nice update but it won’t mean much come this fall if the team can’t turn things around in what should be a make or break year for the program and head coach Lovie Smith.