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Michigan Wins While Wearing Makeshift Practice Unis

Bizarre scene yesterday in DC, as the Michigan basketball team took the court wearing yellow practice jerseys, navy shorts, and a hodgepodge of different shoe designs for a Big Ten tournament game against Illinois. As you can see in the video clip above (which is worth watching, even with the annoying pre-roll ad), the whole thing looked amusingly YMCA-ish.

The issue, as you’ve probably heard by now, is that the team’s uniforms were on the plane that skidded off the runway on Wednesday. The plane is the subject of an FAA investigation, which means all of the cargo is off-limits, including the uniforms. And because the Wolverines packed for a multi-game tournament, not just for a single game, they had all of their uniforms stored on the plane, so there were no backup unis available except for the practice gear.

Teams making do with makeshift attire after their uniforms have been lost or delayed is nothing new, of course. I compiled a list of such incidents for a 2007 ESPN column, and there have been several more examples since then.

As for Michigan, of course they won, because that’s what happens in stories like this one. I’m sure Nike could whip up a new set of unis for them in time for their next game, but lots of people, including some of the players, are already saying they should stick with the practice gear — in part out of superstition and in part as a symbol of the hardship they’ve endured, what with the plane incident and all.

I agree — they should ride this uniform as far as it’ll take them. Technically speaking, the mismatched shorts and jerseys are an NCAA violation (Rule 1-22.4 states, “The perceptible majority color of the game shorts shall be the color of the neutral zone of the game jersey”), but the rule was obviously waived for the game against Illinois, so let them keep on waiving it. As a nice bonus, the practice jerseys are reversible — yellow on one side, navy on the other — so they can even vary the look depending on whether they’re the designated home or road team for a given game.

Imagine if Michigan ends up doing well in the Big Ten tourney, earns an NCAA tournament bid, and advances to, say, the Sweet 16 — all while wearing the practice jerseys. It would be a great story, right? Well, at least until Big Uni inevitably commodified it by cranking out copycat practice-themed jerseys for lots of other schools.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: Check it out: an old Mariners Camaro (from Shawn Anderson). … The Aberdeen IronBirds will become the Steamed Crabs for one game this summer (from Matt Kent, among others). … A Brewers blogger thinks the team’s current state of uni-related affairs is a debacle. … Way back in 1942, Variety was criticizing Joe DiMaggio’s and Carl Hubbell’s longer-than-usual pant legs, which were described as “droopy drawers” (from Will Shoken). … The Down East Wood Ducks’ new identity is bringing out the seventh grader in everyone, which was probably by design. … The great Threads of Our Game database has added a bunch of new uniform designs from 1889. … The Double-A Erie SeaWolves will wear pink jerseys with 1970s styling for weekend games this season (from @ww0b). … We’ve previously seen this shot of Willie Mays wearing a Reds helmet in the 1965 All-Star Game (more info on that here), but he also wore a Milwaukee Braves helmet in the ’64 ASG (from @kinestealshome). … Some very interesting new socks for the Giants. But ugh, the logo creep really ruins them (from A.G. Redshield). … The Fresno Grizzlies will be doing a “Classic Vinyl Night” promotion on June 1, including Sgt. Pepper’s-style jerseys (from Scott Whitt). … The Salt Lake Bees will wear Utah Jazz-themed jerseys on July 1. … Two players on the Venezuelan WBC team wore Texas Rangers caps yesterday. They’re Rangers players who were loaned to the Venezuelan team. … Some players on the Dominican WBC team are wearing non-matching shoes. … Mexcio was the visiting team for yesterday’s game against Italy but nonetheless wore white pants (from Tyler Johnson). … Interesting article about one of the big contractors that supplies seats for ballparks (from James Gilbert).

NFL News: Whoa, check out all the patches and repairs on the inside of this old Broncos jersey once worn by Rich “Tombstone” Jackson. Love the number-outline stitching, too (great stuff from Broncos collector Tom Jacobson).

Hockey News: New third jersey for the Charlottetown Islanders (from @96_PEI_Senators). … Here’s the story behind each Blackhawks player’s uniform number (from Steve Johnston). … Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk somehow ended up with an opponent’s stick stuck in his helmet visor (from John Chapman).

NBA News: Years ago, fans debated whether the NBA logo should be changed to show Michael Jordan instead of Jerry West. Now there’s some discussion about whether the logo should depict LeBron James. … Former NBA player Vernon Maxwell trashed the Jazz’s uniforms and then sorta-kinda apologized (thanks, Mike). … I put this in the baseball section, but it works here too: The Salt Lake Bees will wear Jazz-themed jerseys on July 1. … The Sioux Falls Skyforce — that’s a D-League Gatorade League team — will wear Corn Night uniforms on March 18 (from Brett Hansen).

College and High School Hoops News: Long shorts are getting shorter. … Whoa, look at these awesome Purdue uniforms from 1968 (from Brian Carroll). … Here’s a look at this year’s March Madness sneakers. … Cedar Shoals High School in Georgia has some very unusual uniforms. … Kansas’s new March Madness jerseys have larger chest typography than their regular season counterparts. … Jesse Gavin, covering the Iowa high school championships, reports that the trend of teams wearing non-contrasting uni numbers has reached “near-epidemic levels.” Additional examples here, here, here, and here. … Xavier’s team name, Musketeers, was misspelled as “Mustketers” for yesterday’s game against Butler at Madison Square Garden (from @JMLedgewood). … Bill Walton wore an ESPN polo shirt last night, which wouldn’t necessarily be notable except that he was working for the Pac-12 Network at the time (from Mike Christy). … UCLA’s number font has some infilling problems.

Soccer News: Looks like Man U player Juan Mata was wearing a different jersey than his teammates were wearing (from Eric Thompson). … “SV Darmstadt 98 from the German Bundesliga will be wearing special jerseys on Saturday,” reports Anthony Zydzik. “They say ‘Du musst kämpfen’ (you have to fight) and ‘Jetzt erst Recht’ (now more than ever) on the front, which honors Jonathon Heimes, a fan who died of cancer a year ago.” Anthony, incidentally, is a German teacher, so he knows his stuff when it comes to German soccer. … Here’s an odd one: Inter Milan has a 109th-anniversary jersey. “I can’t figure out if there’s some special significance to the number or if it’s just an excuse to sell merch,” says Trevor Williams. “Can’t wait for the 110th anniversary to buy another limited edition!” … Also from Trevor: “The new Red Bulls jersey includes one of the most insane design explanations I’ve ever seen: ‘The intersecting lines speak to the style of play of the team and its composition … The pattern and fabric are symbolic of the connective thread that bring everyone together in this metropolis.'”

Grab Bag: The USPS has issued a new set of stamps based on old WPA posters. Gorgeous stuff (from Jeff Ash). … Mike Ortman points out that the logo for January’s Women’s March on Washington owes a strong stylistic debt to the English Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It album cover from 1980. … Indiana Michigan Power — which sounds like an arena football team but is actually an electricity utility — has a new logo. … A new women’s cricket league in Australia has released its inaugural logo. … Three different vehicles from the Norfolk, Va., fire department, three different fonts. “That would drive me nuts!” says Jay Abbott. … When the Celtics recently unveiled their GE jersey patch, someone informed me that the GE logo is known among the company’s employees as “the meatball.” Turns out NASA uses that same nickname for its own logo (from James Gilbert).

Comments (53)

    Mata is wearing the same jersey (as highlighted by the FA Cup patch on the sleeves), he just has the wrong font. His jersey has the Premier League font used in league play, while everyone else has Manchester United bespoke font used in cup competitions

    Along those lines, does anyone know all the leagues that have a standardized name/number font? As in, the Premier League and MLS have one, but La Liga in Spain does not.

    I like the Premier League font. Just the right weight to be easy on the eyes and not gimmicky. I don’t like the MLS font. It’s too cartoony to my eyes.

    The font for the FA leagues (Championship, League One, League Two) are standardized, as well.

    Presumably Mata’s shorts had the same font as the rest of his team, but I couldn’t find any pictures of it. I did find pictures of him from the front, and it is definitely the same jersey as the rest of the team(including special europa league and “Respect” sleeve patches), but with the wrong name and number decals(notice the different logos on the bottom of the numbers). Did Man U wear that style of jersey with their premier league numbers in a previous europa league game which Mata used, or did someone actually put the apply the wrong name and numbers on the back of that jersey (or put the europa league sleeve patches on the wrong jersey)?

    I wondered when the rule changed to forcing the shorts to match the jersey in college, because my very first thought was the gold Purdue jerseys with black shorts. And lo and behold, here comes the ticker!

    Hmm. The first thing I thought of on seeing the UMich two-color uniforms, at the Verizon Center, was that gold-over-black Wizards’ kit from several years ago.

    Hi, could you please correct the spelling of my name? It’s Will Shoken (not Shokan). Thanks.

    Rich “Tombstone Jackson is missing an end quote
    Tagging on the English Beat item is wonky

    The roundel graphic used by Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft during World War II was also called a Meatball, as opposed to Rob Reiner who was called a “Meathead”, or Metropolitans from Nueva York who crave meat who are called “Meatscots.”

    Hi Paul – proofreading in Hockey News:

    It is the Charlottetown Islanders, not Charlotteville.

    As Black and Vegas Gold unis go, it’s a pretty sharp look, and the lighthouse is a fitting logo.

    The choice of colors, considering all of PEI (the very small Canadian province the Charlottetown Islanders reside in), is covered with this reddish/orange soil (your car can easily get covered in it – in what otherwise is a beautiful part of the world during the summer), I would think would be a more appropriate color than black.


    In addition to the “meatball”, the stylized lettering logo that NASA used in the 70s and 80s is known as the “worm”.

    And the other logo that NBC used from the early 60’s to 1975, besides the peacock, was called the “snake”, presumably because it could be formed in one continuous, slithering stroke, like a snake. The snake logo appeared on NBC Sports banners until about 1973, when they went to a futuristic font.

    If the Michigan jerseys were reversible, why didn’t they wear the navy side for the game?

    Basketball teams still wear white/lighter color at home, no? Michigan was the higher seed, so they’re the “home” team on a neutral court.

    Illinois was actually wearing navy jerseys and shorts in that game. I wonder how often a game has featured two teams wearing the same color shorts.

    It would not surprise me if Illinois hadn’t packed their white uniforms for the trip, because there was a pretty slim chance that they would end up being the higher seed in any game they might play in the tournament.

    Bill Walton was working for both networks last night. He did the Arizona-Colorado game on Pac-12 Network, quickly followed by the UCLA-USC game 30 minutes later on ESPN. He will probably work for both networks again tonight for the tournament semifinals.

    I am pretty sure I have seen Bill wear the “Pac-12 Conference of Champions” tie-dye t-shirt on ESPN before, so it goes both ways.

    ESPN runs the PAC-12 net, so I don’t really see the big deal with Walton wearing an ESPN shirt. But maybe that’s just me.

    No, unlike the SEC and ACC networks, Pac-12 Network is independent. That’s also part of the reason why the Pac-12 Network has not been able to get on all the major carriers.

    The Brewers need to go back to the Molitor/Yount era uni’s asap, minus the pajama bottoms.

    I can get behind that with the exception of the white triangle on the front of the batting helmet. It would have looked better at the time had they tapered the shape (like Minnesota, Toronto and Baltimore) but it doesn’t match the pinstripes, powder blue, or the gold-paneled road cap. Superfluous.

    I couldn’t disagree more. The Brewers need to go with the M and barley. Throw the glove logo on the sleeve as a nod to the past. Also, stop overuse of the dark blue jersey. Please wear white at home and gray on the road, and very lightly sprinkle in the dark blue. Very lightly! One last thing, dump the retro Friday nights. How about just 1-2 retro nights, which would give it some actual meaning.

    Hey NFL, color at home, white away!

    growing up with an Italian grandmother, I had to tax my brain as to why “109” would be so important to Inter, I couldn’t think of anything besides the word “centonove”. So I went to that twenty-first century font of knowledge, Google – nothing. I think we have a cash grab. Folks, correct me if I am wrong.

    “…logo for January’s Women’s March on Washington owes a strong stylistic debt to the English Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It album cover…”

    I’ll have to give that a “Well, sort of, I guess”.

    Nothing in common with this?


    I guess Michigan could wear this combo against teams wearing white, regardless if the jersey’s are reversible. Alway thought the Lakers could wear their yellow jerseys on the road except if they played a team without enough contrast, say orange.

    The English Beat album cover makes me think of the London 2012 logo. Curious as to whether or not it served as an inspiration to the designer(s).

    Oh, adidas… just when I wanted to praise you for restraint this March, you screw up the numbers. When you have iconic programs like UCLA, Indiana and Kansas in your stable, keep it simple. It’s like every time they try and put their stamp on an iconic look, they do – but for the wrong reasons.

    I love Adidas shoes and fashion but I can’t get over what they do year after year to their basketball and (American) football uniforms. UCLA is the most confounding. It’s almost as if Adidas is going out of their way to show how much they hate the UCLA uniform tradition.

    Link on item for Australian women’s cricket league is actually for a start-up Indian league that was inspired by the Australians. Also, no logo is shown in the article.

    Regarding the Cedar Shoals HS uniforms, I’m surprised these are allowed. NFHS basketball uniform rules require the front number to be centered vertically and horizontally. It’s because of this rule that we no longer see high school uniforms with off-center front numbers like University of Michigan and Missouri used to wear in the late 80’s.

    Here’s a link to the rule: link

    Mad Max’s diss of the Jazz uniforms wasn’t even the worst thing he tweeted on Wednesday, as he made a crack about the Rockets playing the Jazz on International Women’s Day. Pretty sophomoric, and I’ll just leave it at that.

    Regarding his assessment of the unis, though, I’m guessing he was just sore about the Rockets losing. Either that, or he really, really doesn’t Get Itâ„¢. Worse current NBA unis that immediately come to mind are the Clippers, Thunder, and especially the Hawks.

    Loved Scott Darling’s reason for wanting number 33 for the Blackhawks. “I don’t know why, but I associate goalie numbers with types of goalies, like the way guys play. Like a lot of my favorite goalies wore 20 or 29, but I don’t find myself to be a 29 type of goalie, if that makes any sense to you.”

    To the Brewers blogger-
    No one calls it the Miller~LITE~ M – that’s just embarrassing

    I thought LITE was Miller Light, but the they came out with this.


    Sort of like the “I thought TAB was diet Coke” conundrum.

    Despite the atrocity of upcoming unis ads there is one thing the NBA has right. And that is preventing rolled shorts. They have become such an eyesore in College basketball I wish the NCAA would wise up and outlaw them as well.

    Well Mike Miller hasn’t played for Cavs since 2015. So it is at least much harder to find in NBA. In college it is everywhere you turn. Manufacturers could help by making the band the same color and design on both sides of band. Would definitely help the aesthetics.

    “Mexcio” was the visiting team for yesterday’s game against Italy

    How we gonna build a wall around MEXICO if we cant spell it?


    Sure, lets change the NBA logo every 20 years or so when the next “big thing” comes along. Why not every year and the previous year’s MVP could be the logo?

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