goodluck The “All Whites” bring good luck as you can see (via Sports Illustrated)

[Ed. See the full Uniform Timeline for more detail.  This post inspired the idea.]

A little history on the the subtle (and a few not-so-subtle) tweaks to the Michigan uniform in the past four decades via historian and Wolverine uniform expert Steve Sapardanis.  This was basically off the top of his head (!) – so feel free to review and comment:

1969 – Bo removes the numbers from the SIDES of the helmets and adds award stickers (solid yellow football-shaped decals)

1974-1975 – White pants for road games.  Road unis changed to all white with thin blue and yellow stripes on the end of the jersey sleeves, and matched in same stripes down the outsides of the pants.  (Check out all whites in action in the ‘76 Orange Bowl).

1975 – UM changes the facemask color from gray to blue.  Decals get a little facelift – a snarling Wolverine head with laces is added

1976 – UM goes with YELLOW pants for both home AND away games.  M switches to BIKE helmets for the entire team (90% of the players make the switch – a few still wear MacGregor, Rawlings, or Riddell helmets).   A slight change to the helmet design – the middle-strip “tail” is removed and now all three stripes converge at the midway point in the back of the helmet.

1977 – the road (white) jersey enhances the stripes on the sleeves – the middle yellow stripe is enlarged and flanked by a thinner blue stripe on either side

1981 – UM partners with Champion for their team jerseys. The numeral font on the jersey drastically changes – going from bold BLOCK numbers to a thinner, sleeker and more rounded font.

1982 – Another helmet design change. The three stripes now converge at the BOTTOM of the back of the helmet.

1983 – The decals are removed for two years.

1985 – The decals return.

1995 – Lloyd Carr removes the decals.

1997 – The white jerseys are changed – an “M” is added to the sleeves.

2010 – Wingless helmets appear at practice. [Ed. OK, I added that, har har].


  1. Interesting. Does the 1976 entry imply that the home pants weren’t always yellow? A couple of additions:

    * The away uniforms changed in 2008, including adding the piping. (I recall that Carr approved the change the prior year).
    * Various corporate decals (Nike, Adidas) have appeared, disappeared, and moved around the uniform.
    * Were names always on the jerseys? I seem to remember they was added in the 70s or 80s.
    * Anthony Carter’s tear-away jerseys. I just wanted to mention those. How come I never saw anyone else, on UM or other teams, use one?

    Go Blue!

  2. Some time in the last 15 years the jerseys changed from screened-on numbers to solid sewn-on ones. I’m not sure exactly when, I think it was in the early ’00s.

    Also, the socks’ color has changed from white to blue. Again I’m not sure when.

  3. Michigan always went with a different jersey supplier for bowl games (I think it was Sand-Knit) in the 1980’s. If I recall correctly (it was in a post on UniWatch years ago), it had to do with the application of the bowl designs on the shoulders. Which, interestingly, hasn’t been done since the 2004 Rose Bowl.

    In 1995, continuing through 1997-8ish, the home jerseys had an M design embossed into the shoulders.

    Also, in the late 80’s-early 90’s, there were two variations of the away jerseys. Players who wanted a tighter-fitting sleeve had a thin band of elastic striping, and those who wanted the looser sleeves had the conventional wide-stripe variety. Check out the video of the ’93 Rose Bowl for examples.

  4. The 1976 entry was meant more for the fact that white pants (with stripes) were still being worn in ’75. Since 1976 it’s been yellow pants for both home and away games.
    The names on the WHITE jerseys appeared ONLY for the 1977 Rose Bowl against USC. The BLUE jerseys had names on the back for the for the first time in the 1979 Gator Bowl. The 1980 season had names on BOTH white and blue jerseys and have been there ever since.
    With the introduction of NIKE jerseys in 1995 a silhouetted “M” appeared on the shoulders of the BLUE jerseys for a year.
    Blue socks were worn during the 2003 OSU Game and have been worn for most home games since.
    Again – off the top of my head…


  5. The first BOWL GAME jersey with any printing/logo on them was the 1984 Sugar Bowl.
    Bo just HATED having the bowl logos on the jerseys before then! He finally relented and they have been on ever since.


  6. Brian – The jerseys went from screened on to embroidered in time for the 2005 season.

  7. During my freshman and sophomore years (’81, ’82) we wore the white game pants from ’75, ’76 for practice. Waste not want not.

  8. A few little additions:

    1995 – Nike swoosh added to one shoulder pad, and “Big Ten Centennial” patch was below it (for that year only, obviously)

    1998 – the Nike swoosh was moved below the collar.

    2005 – the M is removed from the road uniforms and the trim is changed slightly. Thin yellow piping runs diagonally across the shoulders.

    2008 – Adidas replaces Nike (with logo also under collar); the road uniform adds a large curved stripe running up each side, in addition to the piping.

  9. You forgot to include the change when names were added on the back of the uniform. That may have been on and off in the 70s, but I am pretty sure for instance that there were no names through the whole Anthony Carter era.

  10. @Martin

    I could be mistaken, but I believe AC actually wore a different jersey than his teammates – a cheaper, tearaway one that made him harder to tackle. His teammates’ jerseys had names on them.

  11. Those who do not read the thread are bound to repeat it.

  12. @jmblue: I thought the road uniforms added the piping for RR’s first season (2008). I seem to remember RR getting ‘blamed’, even though Carr had approved the change before he retired. I could very well misremember.

  13. (That last post was me; I forgot to put my name in.)

  14. The thick curved stripes on the sides were added in 2008, but the thin piping goes back to ’05. Adidas basically took the existing Nike uniform and added the curved stripes.

  15. For example, here’s a shot of Chad Henne wearing the last Nike road uniform, with the piping visible:

  16. Thanks jm. Greg – Does it worry you that you got a 16 comment, 3 day long discussion on a subject like recent uniform history? :)

  17. @Tony
    re: does it worry me. LOL — but hardly worried. If I didn’t understand how important this type of stuff was to Michigan fans I wouldn’t be writing a blog like this one. I love the discussion in fact, this is a great Wiki candidate. More to come thanks to Steve Sap – keep it tuned here.