Posted by Jerry Hinnen
You wouldn't think a simple enough story like "Michigan's going to wear throwback uniforms for their historic night game against Notre Dame" would become a sordid tale of intrigue and deceit. But then again, these are college football uniforms we're talking about. They're that big a deal.
You might have noticed as much when the Detroit Free-Press first began the furor on May 20, by publishing this leaked image of the "model" for the throwback jerseys:
Most Wolverine fans were less than thrilled, since the uniforms didn't appear to actually throw back to any specific previous Michigan look. But not to fear: Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon was later asked, point-blank, if the Free-Press model was an "accurate representation" of the planned Notre Dame game uniform. His response? "No."
But with the unofficial unveiling of the throwback look set for tomorrow night -- it's even streaming online, if your idea of an exciting Friday evening is watching a media-centric announcement about college football uniforms over your computer, and whose isn't? -- it turns out that Brandon may not have been entirely honest about that. In fact, he probably wasn't being honest at all, to judge from this screen capture from the website of local Ann Arbor retailer the M-Den:
The item was pulled from the site almost immediately, with the M-Den's Twitter feed later apologizing for an "error" and any "confusion" it might have caused. But with the apology pointedly not stating that the item was not the throwbacks in question and a promotional image from manufacturers Adidas showing the same block "M" as above, the chances of Michigan appearing against the Irish in anything other than the jersey pictured are mighty, mighty slim.
Which would make Brandon a liar. The image first published by the Free-Press was, in fact, an "accurate representation" of the planned throwback design; aside from the addition of the number on the front left chest (probably due to NCAA regulations which require numbers on both sides of the uniform), the jerseys are identical. (The coloration in the images is also different, but since Michigan just uses the one shade of "blue," that's easily chalked up to the vagaries of leaked digital imagery.)
Does it matter that Brandon was less-than-truthful about this? If he was ever going to lie about something, there's few things less damaging to lie about than a uniform issue. (The brand of sausages available this season at Big House concessions, or Brady Hoke's shoe size, maybe.) In the realm of stuff-that-really-actually-matters, no, Brandon's fibbing about a jersey is not a big deal.
But Wolverine fans are already more than a little hacked off about the uniforms in the first place. Learning that the athletic director responsible is perfectly willing to lie to their faces over any issue -- could he lie about something bigger next time? -- probably won't do much to help win them back over.