Throughout the afternoon, Illini athletics twitter accounts have been releasing photos of new gray uniforms that Illinois will debut against Minnesota in two weeks. The uniforms intend to honor the 90th anniversary of Red Grange's performance in the inaugural contest at Memorial Stadium. Grange, who's widely regarded as the greatest college football player of all time, scored four touchdowns and racked up 262 total yards in the first 12 minutes of the game against Michigan. He also ran for a fifth touchdown and threw for a sixth later in the game to help Illinois hand the Wolverines their first loss in two years.
The "Gray Ghost" reference comes from famed sportswriter Grantland Rice after this historic performance:
A streak of fire, a breath of flame
Eluding all who reach and clutch;
A gray ghost thrown into the game
That rival hands may never touch;
A rubber bounding, blasting soul
Whose destination is the goal.
Red Grange of Illinois!
~ Grantland Rice, 1924
Via an article on the official Fighting Illini website, here's Nike designer Josh Iverson on the uniforms:
"One of my favorite quotes about Red Grange, they described him as a gray ghost - super elusive, super fast - so we created a gray look for this game as an alternate. It has hidden details; think of this elusive ghost idea. The victory badge on the neck is tonal. You have to get close to see it. The helmet has special chrome decals that shift in and out of the white paint job. It's all about creating that elusive ghost Red Grange look for that game."
I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who doesn't think these look sick (in the good way). It's a wonderful way to honor Grange and hopefully they look as good on the field as in these photos. As always, be sure to let us know your thoughts on the new uniforms in the comments.
If you'd like to see the photos a little more closely, you can access the photo gallery provided by Illini Athletics. According to the same article on the Fighting Illini website as mentioned earlier, the replica jerseys will be available for sale beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, October 15th) at the official website and select Nike apparel stores.