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Indiana football: The alternates that just won’t go away

The Hoosiers debuted alternate uniforms back in 2021 and wow they’ve uhhhhh stuck around!

NCAA Football: Illinois at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Indiana football.

So, naturally, today’s topic is going to be the programs’ uniforms and visual brand identity. The on-field product will, of course, be covered as well but I wanna talk about this because oh boy do I have some opinions.

Now you may remember a previous piece from yours truly lauding these. Well throw that in the trash can because minds change and mine sure has now that I’ve had an offseason to think about it.

Indiana football still had a bit of hope left when Cincinnati came to town back in 2021. Sure they’d gotten run out of Iowa City, but memorial stadium was pretty packed and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.

Then the Hoosiers took the field in these beauties.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

It was a whole promotion, a throwback uniform for an exciting home game against a ranked opponent. They came out swinging too, absolutely terrorizing the Bearcats on defense and doing enough on offense to be comfortable.

Then Micah McFadden was controversially ejected after a targeting call and everything, including the season, just fell apart.

These helmets, with the black stripe rather than the usual double white stripe, resurfaced during spring practice in 2022. Those were the first rumblings of a potential uniform change for the program after being decently consistent for the previous few years.

Well, there they were again against Illinois. Only this time with the trident rather than the block I.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Neat game, fun final drive from the offense and defensive stand. But were these just the new main uniforms now after previously being established as an alternate? Who knew but it was going to get weird.

Take a look at those helmets, there’s a black stripe. Opinion, it’s fun as an accent for an alternate and I honestly might not hate a well-done black uniform as an alternate (who cares) but I don’t love that it takes up space where white/cream, an actual school color, could be.

It gets worse/more obvious when they threw those helmets on top of the older uniform for some reason.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Yeah this isn’t great.

The black on the helmet, on the stripe and facemask, is the only time the color is present on the uniform unless a player decides to wear black gloves. It’s a small thing but it just... doesn’t look all that good.

If you’re gonna commit to the alternates as your main uniforms as they’ve done with the helmets they should probably keep it consistent and just do that. Otherwise the whole brand identity just goes out the window.

Like, really, Indiana threw just about anything together and called it a uniform. Alternate helmets but with the trident? You bet. Random block I for the bucket game? Sure I guess. The actual full alternate? A few times! A mismatch between the alternates and the old usuals? Oh yeah.

That is Not Good. Doing this, a random stream of uniforms without any apparent theme or reason throughout the season kind of kills the brand identity, which Indiana doesn’t exactly have to begin with.

They just look different from the rest of the athletic department now, which doesn’t use black. It’s hard to picture their uniforms because they have so many that they don’t have one.

Remember these? Clean, no black, subtle candy striping that doesn’t overpower the rest of the uniform and they won in them back in 2019 and 2020.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

These were great! They looked like Indiana, cream and crimson, featured the iconic candy stripes on the sleeves and pants and didn’t try to do too much. You knew Indiana was wearing these and you knew they meant Indiana.

Also the Indinia thing was funny. The program owned it and jokes about it. Who cares, it isn’t that serious.

So uniform decision-makers, if you’re reading this please know that we should probably go back to what worked rather than switch up the brand identity for no apparent reason. I’m not the only one who thinks so either.

Anyway that’s enough of my little uniform rant please just go back thank you.