Days before Veteran’s Day, Indiana football was scheduled to honor the United States Armed Forces with special “Salute to Service” uniforms.
Unveiled during Thursday’ practice, two days before Indiana is scheduled to host Michigan in search in their first win over the Wolverines since 1987 (and just their second since 1967), the camouflage uniforms feature nine stars on the sleeve to signify the number of battles fought by troops on the USS Indiana, a World War II battleship.
“It’s a tremendous way to recognize them and thank them for their sacrifice,” head coach Tom Allen said during practice, also referring to helmets whose stripe features the names of soldiers who fought in World War II. However, the Hoosiers won’t recognize the soldiers with the uniforms, which were shelved due to a “lack of contrast” with Michigan’s uniforms.
“After further consultation with the Big Ten Conference, the Indiana football program will not wear the “Salute to Service” uniforms as planned on Saturday due to a lack of contrast with the Michigan uniforms,” Indiana said in a statement on Friday. “IU looks forward to wearing the uniforms later in the season.”
Is that fair? Is there a lack of contrast between Indiana’s light gray camouflage uniforms and Michigan’s road white uniforms? Sure, that’s fair, though that’s not the question we should be asking. After the contrast issue was raised, was Michigan asked to wear their home blue uniforms instead?
The Wolverines haven’t returned a request for comment on that question. If they weren’t, why not? If Indiana wishes to honor the troops during Military Appreciation Day and could do so if Michigan wore different uniforms, why didn’t that happen? And Michigan was asked but refused…for everyone’s sake, I hope that didn’t happen.
Indiana is still planning to wear the helmets and do other things to honor the state’s veterans on Saturday, therefore this issue doesn’t wipe out everything. Still, one question remains for this contrast problem.
UPDATE: Michigan returned a request for comment and said they were not asked to wear different uniform.
Andrew Doughty hosts the High Motor podcast and covers college football and college basketball for HERO Sports. A Kansas (B.S. Sport Management) and Memphis grad (M.A. Journalism), Andrew is also a Junior Writer for Sports Illustrated and has published work on SB Nation and Bleacher Report.