MOUNT PLEASANT - Eight uniform combinations, including all-black and all-gold uniforms, for the 2012 Central Michigan football season were debuted in a surprise presentation during an evening football team gathering in the Intercollegiate Athletics Center's football team meeting room Wednesday night.
Designed by Adidas, the new uniform line features four outfits with the same color jersey and pants - black, gold, maroon and white - and four additional combinations created from mixing and matching the gold, maroon and white items. See the photo gallery for a complete look at all of the possible combinations.
Also debuting with the black uniform is a new black helmet with a matte finish and a tapering maroon and gold stripe down the middle. The maroon helmet will continue to be worn with the other seven combinations.
Central Michigan Director of Athletics Dave Heeke believes the uniforms represent a look toward future trends of uniform development, but also represent a desire to remain rooted in the traditional color palette and respect the heritage of the program.
"We wanted multiple combinations, multiple sets of uniforms that we can do a lot of different things with," Heeke said. "At the same time, we don't want to lose our tradition. There's a fine balancing act between doing these trendy uniforms while respecting the tradition and the colors, and I think we've done a very good job of getting back to the basics of who we are at Central Michigan."
A different uniform combination will be worn for each of the seven home games at Kelly/Shorts Stadium this fall, and each week's combination will not be publicly known until the team is on the field for pregame warm-ups.
"Uniform trends are the buzz, and they're occurring all over the country," Heeke said. "Central Michigan is no different, and we want to be in the middle of that buzz. We think it's exciting for the fan base to know that we're in the middle of that current trend. It's fun for them to see what we'll be wearing as we run out of the tunnel, knowing that the student-athletes are excited to be wearing them, and we hope that it translates into some great football this fall."
The black uniform, which features maroon and gold accents, and the gold jersey, are both brand-new additions to the lineup. The black uniform top was crafted using a stretch mesh, while the gold top was created with a new pro-brite mesh that has been introduced for stronger wear.
This season's new maroon and white jerseys will also feature the same pro-brite mesh material for increased durability and comfort.
The uniform combinations will also feature additional Adidas accessories, including custom gloves with the "C" logo and other maroon and gold designs, compression gear, patterned socks, wristbands and armbands.
For the unveiling, the normal evening film session was interrupted partway through by a video of silhouetted players walking through the smoke-filled inflatable helmet.
The unsuspecting team applauded when Eric Fisher, Titus Davis, Zurlon Tipton, Avery Cunningham, Joe Kinville and Darren Keyton entered the room dressed from head-to-toe in six of the new uniform combinations following the video. The applause turned into celebration when Cody Wilson entered in the all-gold jersey, and the room erupted as the lights went out, a video began playing on the screen and Jahleel Addae entered the meeting room decked out in all black in front of a fog machine and strobe lights.
For Heeke, the new uniforms are a way to invest in and contribute to the student-athlete experience, which is why he preferred that the team be the first to see the new combinations.
"Equipment, gear, and uniforms have become such a big part of student-athlete experiences across the country, and they're central to the feel a program begins to develop," Heeke said. "I think it's imperative to invest in student-athletes, and a big way to show that is through uniforms and uniform development. It shows that we're on the cutting edge and are willing to invest in our student-athletes."
The development process has been in the works for several years, with discussions between Adidas and the CMU Athletics Department staff, and input from former student-athletes. The athletics alumni voiced opinions on what they would like to see in new uniforms, but were not made aware of the full plans in an effort to keep the ultimate unveil as much of a surprise as possible.