Maize n Brew is featured on Detroit Free Press' online sports section every Monday morning regarding all things Michigan Wolverines. The weekly column will be syndicated on our website as well as the Detroit Free Press. You can view the full column, here.
It has been said many times that the Michigan football uniform, especially the winged helmet, should never be altered. That the tradition and iconic nature of behind them are timeless, they are practically untouchable.
When a team like U-M introduces a new alternate uniform - the sixth time since 2011 - whom exactly are they marketing to? The argument has always been that the players who commit to the football team don't come to U-M for new jerseys to wear; the tradition that takes place in Ann Arbor sells itself.
Although the public outrage is understandable, the times are changing. What is U-M tradition for those that will be joining the team next season? The team hasn't won a conference championship since 2004, and has witnessed two teams in 2006 and 2011 finish their years with less than three losses and still couldn't win their conference.
But let's run around and scream about a temporary uniform.
In the grand scheme of things, U-M supporters have much more to worry about than a silly uniform change that will happen only once this year - the bowl game is still undecided. In fact, winning against Penn State should be the most important storyline coming into that game. The Nittany Lions have won the previous four matchups and should be fielding a good team in 2014.
Not to mention this game will be the first time U-M will be playing a Big Ten team under the lights during a home schedule that favors the Wolverines, taking advantage of it will help get the Wolverines back on track.
If the players enjoy wearing the uniforms and it gives the recruits something extra to talk about it, then the case is closed. People will buy the jersey regardless, even if it looks out of place in the man-cave. Could the announcement be an attempted money-grab from Adidas and the athletic department? Probably, but isn't everything these days?
Did Dave Brandon personally design these uniforms? No, but he signed off on the final product. For those clamoring for Dave Brandon's job because of the uniform design, blame Adidas. Would Nike do something as "horrific" as alternate uniforms for U-M? That's a question that has been asked, no one really knows the answer. However, it is clear that fans miss "the swoosh."
At the end of the day, getting worked up about a jersey is minimal compared to what the players think. After all, they are who represent the jersey and winged helmet. They are whom fans cheer for, they put in the time and effort during the week to make your Saturday's enjoyable (sometimes.) From the reaction video U-M posted from the players, it appears that there should be nothing to worry about.
The outcome of the game, as well as the 2014 season, is more important than what minimal changes the team makes to their uniforms. The alternate look is a reach from the classic look all fans are used to, but if the team takes revenge from a Penn State team that stole a victory from U-M last year, most fans will forget all about them.
Winning means everything, including making alternate jerseys for U-M palatable.