The Notre Dame Fighting Irish decided to buck tradition ahead of its neutral site match-up against the Miami Hurricanes. Instead of wearing its very traditional uniform set when they take on the Canes at Soldier Field on October 6, the Irish will debut a uniform that is the very opposite of traditional.
Where to even start? Instead of the plain gold helmet it made famous, Notre Dame is sporting a two-tone lid that is covered in a gold graphic on one side. The other side features an oversized version of the iconic fighting Irishman logo over a navy background.
While the helmet is very busy, the rest of the uniform is rather staid, and hews closer to the Irish's normal gold pants and navy jersey set. But even the pants have their own idiosyncrasy. A wide navy stripe runs down the left leg, but not the right.
Adidas designed the uniforms, the third major apparel company to make startling design choices for special occasions. Nike started the trend when the company turned the University of Oregon into R&D models. Company founder Phil Knight is a major donor to the school, which has become synonymous with forward-looking uniforms.
Under Armour has begun to try the same thing with the University of Maryland, the alma mater of founder Kevin Plank.
Adidas' uniform concept has drawn plenty of criticism. ESPN contributor and sports sartorialist Paul Lukas wrote after the uniform's unveiling, "adidas should stick to the basics and leave the crazy stuff to the professionals (i.e., Nike)."
Harsh words, but while Nike has drawn praise for some of its bold uniform designs, other apparel companies' efforts have been less than lauded. After Maryland took the field in an Under Armor-made state flag design against the Canes last Labor Day, Lukas said, "The Terps were in court jester mode."
Miami will stick to its usual uniform set. Associate athletic director Chris Freet tweeted in July that the school had no special uniforms planned for 2012, not even the Nike Pro Combat series that has made appearances in recent seasons.
Any superstitious Notre Dame fans can take solace in one fact. Even if they don't approve of the loud uniforms the Irish will wear on October 6, the last team who debuted a special uniform against the Canes (Maryland) beat Miami.