Nebraska's alternate jersey -- with the big black N on the all-red background -- is putting Big Red smiles on the faces of local retailers, apparel giant Adidas and the Huskers' athletic department.


It's making them some Big Green.

Nebraska, long-rooted in tradition, historically has avoided the hype of alternate football uniforms, but the fiscal benefit from the one-time change for Saturday's showdown with Wisconsin is significant.

The replica jerseys run about $65 and have been selling briskly, said Blaine Braziel, marketing director of Husker Headquarters, 11th and P streets.

"When Adidas jumped the gun and put the video on YouTube early, we got asked a lot about when we were going to get them," he said.

Husker Headquarters and other retailers started getting supplies earlier this month, but Braziel said they sold out of their first allotment last weekend. A new shipment arrived Tuesday, and it's almost gone. The store sold 10 jerseys in the first 30 minutes after it opened Friday.

"It creates a fervor," he said. "They are great short-term sellers because they are new and different.

"Regular jerseys don't sell like this."

Husker Headquarters had sold almost 150 so far -- that's almost $10,000 in revenue. 

And that's just at one store. And that's just one team. Wisconsin will be sporting its own alternate look for Saturday night's game.

Athletic department officials won't say how much they expect to bring in, but Nebraska Associate Athletic Director for Marketing Michael Stephens said NU gets 10 percent of the wholesale price of apparel, thanks to its licensing agreement with Adidas.

Multiply it out, and it could be a big win.

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Miniature replicas of the black helmets Nebraska will wear Saturday go for about $30. T-shirts with the alternate jersey theme run about $18.

Shoppers also can choose from hats and accessories. The Huskers' official online retail store offers 13 items with the new 'N' logo.

And the game uniforms won't cost the university a thing. Adidas outfits the team for free, leveraging the cost to drive retail sales, he said.

But it wasn't an easy sell, according to Adidas officials. They had the project in mind for two years, but Coach Bo Pelini and Athletic Director Tom Osborne had to OK the final uniform design.

“Coach Osborne is a very smart guy who understands that he’s got to keep his alums and his coaches and his recruits all happy, and sometimes those can be competing efforts," said Adidas director of football Mark Daniels. "He’s got a pretty strict filter with us on how far we push the brand, which is a good thing, because it respects the heritage and tradition of Nebraska.

"At the same time, he allows us to push the borders out to create a unique look that celebrates the heritage and winning traditions of Nebraska.”

Stephens said the reaction has been different compared to the nostalgic 1962 replica jerseys the team wore in 2009 to mark the 300th consecutive sellout of Memorial Stadium.

"I think the excitement about it has been about equal," he said, "but this one is being received a lot better by younger generations."

Stephens said the change keeps the brand fresh and growing.

The Huskers won't be wearing the "The Quick and the Red" jerseys again this year, nor will they mix and match different styles.

And while there are no concrete plans for another set of alternate jerseys next year, Stephens said there are possibilities in the future.

"We're interested in doing it from a marketing standpoint, but we want to keep with tradition and don't take that lightly."

Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120, jpascale@journalstar.com or follow him @LJSPascale.


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