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Jordan Brand makes brilliant football debut with classic Michigan uniform

Michigan debuted a fresh new look from Nike with a midnight party as the calendar flipped from July to August. Noticeably absent from the big reveal of the new Jordan Brand uniform lineup for Michigan was the football uniform. That was reserved for a private unveiling event today (sadly, I was not invited to this one). As expected, Michigan and Nike/Jordan Brand made the wise decision to stick to the basics for Michigan’s uniform rather than try to do too much with it as Adidas had done for years.

Michigan’s new apparel contract is valued at a reported $127.12 million over the next 11 years, with an option for an additional four years that could raise the value of the contract to $173.8 million. As part of the rich contract, Michigan will become the first college football program in the country to wear the Jordan Brand insignia on its uniform (and not North Carolina, which still feels odd) instead of the signature Nike swoosh. This is a mammoth deal for Michigan and Nike’s Jordan Brand, so you knew they were going to capitalize on it as the deal was made.

Official. #GoBlue #HAILMichigan

A photo posted by Michigan Athletics (@umichathletics) on

One of the biggest uniform details that has gone over so well with Michigan fans is the decision to stick to a true maize and blue color scheme. The maize shading is now a true maize after years of a yellow variant with Adidas that at times looked more like a highlighter streak than anything else. Moving on from the new trademark logo on the uniform, what stands out is the simplicity of the uniform’s design. There are no useless stripes to be seen. The home uniform is a simple blue uniform with the maize numbering and lettering. Paired with simple maize pants (and belt) This is how Michigan should look in its football uniform. This is how Michigan is supposed to look for a home game.

Michiagn home uniform (2016: Nike/Jordan Brand)

If you look closely enough, you will notice the stitching pattern used on the front of the jersey. This is Nike’s newest uniform template at work, the Nike Vapor Untouchable system. I got a chance to see this new design in person last year, with Oregon’s Alamo Bowl uniform being the first to use the full system. The amount of stitching is significantly reduced, leading toa  lighter uniform that won’t wear down a player as quickly. It may seem like a small detail, but a uniform weighing four ounces less than Nike’s other uniforms adds up, especially when soaking in sweat during a game. This uniform design was also used in the NFL Pro Bowl and will quickly become the new norm for college football programs as Nike rolls out the design to its partner schools.

At quick glance, Michigan will have four Jumpman logos on their new uniforms; one on the jersey, one down the side of the pants and one on each glove (UPDATE: Looks like there will be one on the helmet as well). The Crying Jordan memes should be spectacular when Michigan loses a game. But what about the road uniform? It looks like Michigan will stick to white pants (no uniforms with yellow pants were apparently displayed), perhaps the one minor drawback I have seen yet.

Michigan away jersey (2016: Nike/Jordan Brand)

Michigan brought back the all-white look last season, and it’s not all that bad really. I just prefer Michigan to stick to yellow pants rather than go with the all-white look. But if this is the worst criticism I can come up with for this new uniform set, that’s not all that bad. It still works. They just start looking a little like Penn State. That is, of course, until you get to the shoulder stripes. Unlike the home uniform, Michigan will have three thin stripes around the sleeve. It’s a nice touch for this look and adds a touch of maize and blue to the road jersey. I like it.

As you can see, the signature winged helmet design is untouched, but it may come in a different finish at times this season. Nick Baumgardner of shared an image of a matte finish Michigan helmet and says they should be expected to be worn this season. I would just guess this will be considered an alternate helmet rather than a regularly-worn helmet. Whether it is standard or an alternate, I love it. I’m a sucker for a good matte finish helmet because it makes it feel a bit more classic.

Here is a more official look courtesy of Michigan’s Instagram account…

Buckle up. This is gong to be a fun ride. #GoBlue #HAILMichigan

A photo posted by Michigan Athletics (@umichathletics) on

Now, the question remains. Will there be any alternate uniforms worn by Michigan this season? The Wolverines have worn more than enough alternate looks during their time with Adidas, so it might be something Michigan stays away from in their first year with Nike and the Jordan Brand. However, Nike surely has something in mind in the event the Wolverines do decide to suit up in an alternate uniform once or twice. Michigan State does it. So does Ohio State. We’ll see if Michigan does it or not.

In closing, I love the new Michigan uniforms. I think Nike and the Jordan Brand designers did a fantastic job in putting this together. Honestly, it didn’t require much. Michigan’s uniform is already one of the best in the sport, and experimenting with the look too much has been shown to lead to disappointment (Adidas proved it time and time again). Nike is smarter than that. Nike may have a few mistakes here and there, but none of them will be found on Michigan’s uniforms in 2016.

Leave your thoughts about Michigan’s new uniforms with a comment below, and feel free to leave your star rating for the uniform’s look.

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About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.