History of the
1992 - mid 1994
JERSEY: When Gary
Barnett came to NU, he changed
the Wildcat uniform, making it look more like Colorado's-- black
and all. However, Barnett claims in High Hopes that his
responsible for the switch: "[Clay] complained about everything, even
way Northwestern's uniforms looked. So to get him involved and
positively, I said, 'Give me a better idea. How would you do the
He said, 'Dad, the two hottest colors are purple and black.'
drew up the concept of the uniform with these colors, and I had some
"...I took it to one administrator who had been here a long time, and
said, 'Absolutely not.' When I took it to an administrator who
me, he said, 'If you've got the guts to wear them, I'll back you.'
actually was apprehensive about the design and figured we'd eventually
back to purple. We kept the black a secret before the 
and even had our team picture taken in white jerseys. In fact, we
up in purple jerseys before the game.
"When we hit the field in black just before the game I think everybody
the age of 40 gasped and almost had heart attacks. But everyone
the age of 40 loved them, and every recruit that's walked in here has,
[High Hopes, p. 104]
The jersey, made by Wilson, that debuted in 1992 at Soldier Field marked
the first time since the early forties that NU did not use a purple
during a season. The '92 jersey did bring back the northwestern
with a twist: the middle stripe was now purple.
The jersey was
worn through the next season, and in the first two home games of the
season (the white version of the '92 jersey-- purple numbers with a
outline-- was worn for all road games from 1992 through the end of
The only difference with the 1994 version was the addition of a
on the left breast commemorating the 125th anniversary of college
HELMET: No major
For 1992-93, Barnett kept the purple face mask (and the grey outline on the N), then switched the face mask to black. He
began awarding 'Cat-head decals on a game-by-game basis.
PANTS: In the 1992
debut, the 'Cats wore purple pants; however, there were several games
in 1992 for which NU wore the grey pants (unlike the old grey pants
of 1982-1991, the 1992 grey pants had no stripes and featured the
By 1993, the team wore purple pants exclusively. They
to wear the no-stripe purple pants for all games until 2000.
Late 1994 (Black)
For the first few games of 1994, the 'Cats wore the 1992-style jersey,
with the addition of a patch celebrating 125 years of college
football. After the '94
Stanford game, NU abandoned the '92 jersey (and the 125th anniversary
switched to the jersey above. NU reversed the number colors (now
white with purple piping) and switched the font slightly.
However, the change affected home jerseys only. The white
jersey remained the 1992
The new black jersey lasted the remainder of the season, but was
for 1995, making it one of the shortest-lived uniforms at NU.
JERSEY: With the 1995
jersey Russell Athletic dropped sleeve or shoulder numbers, added the "N-Cat" logo to
shoulders, dropped the purple piping from the chest and back numbers,
the death of Marcel Price-- added the "Big Six" memorial patch to
left breast. The jersey was worn again in 1996 and is significant
NU won Big Ten titles each year the uniform was worn.
deviations from this uniform were the Rose and Citrus Bowl
Both bowl uniforms used a different jersey in the style that
would become standard in 1997. For
the Rose Bowl game, Russell Athletic needed room on the chest for
patches, so it
dropped the northwestern striping and moved the N-Cat logos to the
shirt featured a large Rose Bowl logo on the left breast and a large
Ten / Pac Ten logo on the right. After the 1996 regular season NU
switched from Russell Athletic to Reebok. Reebok's Citrus Bowl jersey
used the same pattern as the Russell Rose Bowl jersey. The Citrus Bowl
jersey had a smaller
Citrus Bowl logo on the right breast.
No changes. After NU claimed the 1995 Big Ten Championship,
released a box that featured the Northwestern helmet.
PANTS: NU continued to
wear the same purple pants that were part
of its uniform since 1992 (no stripes, "N-Cat" logo on the right side).
the 1995 season, however, the 'Cats also wore a Big Ten Centennial
on the left side of the pants. They did not wear it for 1996.
in 1996 the "N-Cat" logo shifted to the left side of the pants, where
it remained through the end of 2002.
actually debuted at the 1996 Rose Bowl and was also used at the 1997
Bowl. It was initially designed by Russell Athletic as a jersey for bowl games only,
since it had space on the shoulders and chest to allow for the addition
of bowl logo patches. Reebok took over as NU's uniform supplier for 1997. By the spring of 1997 NU and Reebok had decided to
make this the standard regular season jersey.
The "N-Cat" logos moved from the shoulders to the sleeves
the northwestern striping was dropped (NU's famous striping would not return until 2010). The "Big Six" patch
remained in place. The
Reebok logo (not pictured) also featured prominently on the chest.
A variation of this uniform was worn for one game during the 2015
season to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the '96 Rose Bowl team.
& 2000-2002 (White)
With the move
from Reebok to Adidas in 1998, NU changed its jersey style, adding UCLA-style
stripes (not coincidentally resembling the Adidas logo) and shrinking
"N-Cat" logo on the sleeve. The purple piping returned to the
numerals, and the numeral font changed to a narrower style.
The "Big Six" patch remained on the jersey until the end of the 1998
season. The jersey had no patches at all during the 1999 season.
NU wore a white Alamo Bowl patch on the right shoulder during the
2000 Alamo Bowl only. During 2001, NU wore a memorial patch for
Rashidi Wheeler (a
white rectangle marked with the letters "RAW" in black) on the left
They wore a U.S. flag on the right breast, starting with the
22, 2001 Duke game. For the 2002 Spring Game, the Wildcats had
"RAW" patch, but retained the flag. For the 2002 season, NU
the flag (a smaller flag image was instead placed on the back of NU's
and had no patches on the jersey.
The numeral font changed again slightly in 2001, back to a wider style.
not all players wore the wider font (Damien Anderson's #20, for
stayed narrow). This mix of fonts remained in 2002.
The white jersey included the same striping pattern as the black jersey
2000, when the white jersey striping switched to the pattern shown
HELMET: No major
to the 1981 helmet. In addition to the 'Cat-head decals that
started, Randy Walker began handing out an array of other helmet
including stars (for big plays) and paws (for special teams). The
paint also changed slightly, becoming darker and more metallic.
PANTS: In 2000 NU began
using black pants for most road games, in addition
to the purple pants still used for home games.
Adidas and NU ended their
relationship at the end of 2001, and the 'Cats used surplus Adidas
the 2002 season. Adidas
the Wildcats in 2003, and NU decided to change the uniform jersey and
pants completely. The uniforms were made for Adidas by
For the first time in over a decade, the 'Cats
wore purple jerseys. They featured white USC-style shoulder sections (a style Adidas calls "Fang"), a black collar
an Athletic N logo shield, and black sleeve ends.
jerseys retained the 1998-style N-Cat logo on the sleeves.
Since its inception in 2003, this was The Jersey of the Everchangin' Font. The numeral font in 2003 was
Celtic and, according to Keith Simpson, the '03 jerseys featured
Twill sewn-on numbers. The white numerals had a black shadow.
2004 NU made the Celtic
wider and eliminated the black numeral shadow (the 2003 font style is
illustrated above). For 2005-2006 NU used a modification of a
Crillee font. The black outline
to the numerals.
Uniform Fonts, 2003-2006
deviations from the standard jersey were the following chest
patches. For the 2003 Motor
City Bowl the 'Cats wore a Motor City Bowl logo patch on their left
breast. For the 2005 Sun Bowl NU wore two patches: a Sun Bowl
patch below the right shoulder and a Big Ten patch below the left
shoulder. For the 2006 season NU honored Coach Randy Walker
with a memorial patch over the left breast of the uniform. The
patch is similar to the one the team wore for Rashidi Wheeler: a white
rectangle with the word "WALK" in black:
for the final game in 2006, the Wildcats celebrated the 100th meeting
with Illinois by wearing this commemorative patch on their right
NU's classic helmet design enjoyed its twenty-fifth season.
For just the 2003 Motor City Bowl, players wore the word "OTTO" on the
front of the helmet (in place of the Big Ten logo) to honor the late
Otto Graham. By 2005, the Big Ten logo on the front of the helmet
had switched from
white on a black background to white on a purple background. For
just the 2006 season opener, players from both
Northwestern and Miami (Ohio) wore a helmet decal displaying a red
“41,” Walker’s uniform number at Miami, and “WALK” in purple
lettering. Also for 2006 the US flag returned to the back of
the helmet; it had been absent for a couple of seasons.
PANTS: In 2003 the team dropped the
N-Cat from the pants
and added a stripe section at the bottom of the leg, similar to
curved section on the shoulders. The purple
home jerseys were worn with purple pants at home (the first
all-purple look for the 'Cats since the '91 Illinois game), and for
road games NU used
all-white unis (jerseys and pants) that were the same style as the
There were, however, several exceptions to the purple at home / white on the road uniform pants:
- 2003 vs. Minnesota: home game, NU wore white pants.
- 2004 vs. Minnesota: road game, NU wore 2000-2002 style black pants.
- 2005 vs. Iowa: home game, NU wore white pants.
- 2006 vs. Ohio
State: home game, NU wore 2000-2002 style black pants (this is believed
to be the first time in Northwestern history that the team wore black
pants at home).
- 2006 vs. Illinois: home game, NU wore white pants.
2007 the team changed the jersey font yet again, but this time it
dumped the Celtic / Crillee
look altogether and used a more standard collegiate block font (Pro Fullback),
with iron-on numbers. Other than a change to the
jersey collar (making the black shield around the "N" larger), there was no other change to the 2003-style
uniform. There were no significant changes to the uniform in 2008 or '09.
For the 2008 Alamo Bowl, an Alamo Bowl logo patch was added below the
left shoulder of the purple jersey. The 2010 Outback Bowl
featured NU's white road jersey, with an Outback patch on the right
change in 2007.
For 2008, Coach Fitzgerald fundamentally changed the helmet sticker system, eliminating the
good play stars and other stickers that Coach Walker implemented.
The 'Cat heads remained, but were given to every player for
a win. So, every playing member of the team had the same number
of 'Cat heads.
For the 2008 Alamo Bowl, the 'Cats wore a sticker on their helmet with
the initials "CRB," honoring Alamo Bowl chairman Charles Robert
Brincat, who died November 13. In the 2010 Outback Bowl NU wore a
helmet sticker with the initials "ML." D-line coach Marty Long
was recovering from surgery and was unable to travel with the team to
opposed to the 2003-'06 uniform, which featured purple pants at home,
the 2007-'09 'Cats wore white pants both at home and on the road, dropping
their all-purple at home look.
The one exception was the 2007
Duke game at NU, in which NU wore the 2000-2002 style black pants again
(similar to the uni for the 2006 OSU game).
The Wildcats made their first major uniform change since 2003,
and the uniforms featured northwestern striping for the first time
The striping pattern,
which NU made famous in 1928, had for the first time black narrow
stripes surrounding a white wide stripe. The striping pattern was similar for the white road jerseys (black narrow stripes
surrounding a purple wide stripe).
NU kept the "N" logo on the collar, but dropped the "N-Cat" logo
from the jersey for the first time since 1994 (it had been featured
either on the jersey's shoulders or sleeves). NU kept the
Pro Fullback font.
Early reports indicated that NU had considered returning to a black
jersey for selected games in the future. This no longer appears
to be the case. Whoops: I guess these rumors were true.
major change to NU's classic helmet.
in 2011 the old Big Ten logo on the front was replaced by the
conference's new "B1G" logo, in white with a purple background.
team consistently wore black pants at home and white pants on the
road. Both pants had a traditional set of stripes (though
not technically northwestern stripes). The white pants had a
black-purple-black stripe, and the back pants featured
2010-2011 Alternate Uniform Components
in 2010, college football teams began using alternate uniforms far more
frequently. The Wildcats wore so many alternate versions of their
standard uniform that an entire section is needed to list them.
As the influence of the Nike Oregon / Pro-Combat Era spread, and as
Adidas joined in the fray, the alternate uni trend increased,
sweeping up NU as well.
STANDARD JERSEY PATCHES:
NU added patches to the standard jersey for both bowl games during the 2010-2011 seasons. For
the 2011 TicketCity Bowl, NU's standard white jersey featured a
TicketCity Bowl logo on the left breast. For the 2011 Texas Bowl,
NU wore a bowl patch on the left breast of its standard purple jersey.
ALTERNATE BLACK JERSEY:
For the November 20, 2010 game against Illinois at Wrigley Field, NU
sported, for the first time ever, an alternate jersey during the regular season (along with alternate purple pants). For
the first time since 2002, the 'Cats wore black jerseys. However, the
jerseys were not throwback unis, but an alternate version of the
The black jersey featured the same numerals as the current uni, but
with purple piping instead of black. The northwestern striping on
the arm, for the first time ever, was purple-white-purple. The
black collar and black shield around the "N" (present on the 2003-2009
The 'Cats wore the alternate black jersey again in the 2011 game vs.
Michigan. Together with the standard black home pants, the 2011
Michigan unifiorm was the first time in its history that NU wore black
/ black in a game.
October 9, 2010, for the game vs. Purdue, NU wore a helmet decal
expressing support for former NU quarterback Zak Kustok and his sister
For the 2010 Iowa game, NU replaced the helmet's Big Ten logo on the
front with the phrase "JARV" in purple, a reference to NU's longtime
equipment manager Bill Jarvis, who had retired.
- In the 2011
Texas Bowl, NU wore a decal on the back of its helmet to honor Texas
A&M player Joseph Villavisencio (who was killed in a car crash
before the game).
- On September 10, 2011 vs. Eastern Illinois, NU employed an alternate
helmet for the first time since the 1977 Iowa game. The alternate
helmet had the N logo patterned with the American flag, commemorating
the tenth anniversary of 9/11 (the same logo appeared at
midfield). The "9/10/11 Helmet" also featured a commemorative
ribbon on the back.
- For the 2010 home game at Wrigley NU wore purple pants (for the first time since 2006). The
alternate pants were the same style as the standard ones, with three
stripes down the sides. The Wrigley pants' stripes were
white-black-white, with all three stripes nearly equal in width.
For the 2011 TicketCity Bowl, NU wore black pants with a white
jersey. Also, for the 2011 Army game at West Point NU wore black
pants with its road jersey.
2010-2011 Alternate Total Uniforms
2011 Homecoming Uniform
Adidas provided an entirely new
uniform for NU's 2011 homecoming night game vs. Penn State. The
uniform was to be worn only in this game. The postmodern uniform
featured a silver helmet, purple jersey and purple pants.
helmet was "back to the future": retro-style black numbers (similar to
the larger numbers on NU's 1966-'67 hemets), but with a silver shell--
something NU has never before worn. The helmet had the B1G logo in purple on the
purple jersey was a different shade from the standard 2010-2011
jerseys. Numbers were in black, with a silver outline.
Unlike the standard jerseys, there were no names on the back.
Instead of a small N logo on the collar, the jersey featured a larger N
on the left chest. Northwestern stripes were dropped; instead,
the jersey had claw marks or "cat scratches" on the sleeves.
PANTS: Same purple as the homecoming jersey, with the word "WILDCATS" printed (in black, with silver outline) down the left side.