First and foremost, I know it's been discussed here to some degree, and I'm certainly not going to list examples or try to flaunt it-- but I'm professionally involved in design and have done some sports branding and uniform design. I'm not saying that I know everything there is to know, and I certainly don't want to imply that no one else is entitled to their opinion.
BUT I have to say that uniforms, like anything really in the design world, can be a true art form involving sound decision-making with regards to aesthetic value, color balance, and innovation. It can ALSO be, and often is, an absolute train wreck when people with power make rash decisions without thinking things through-- remember the Islanders fisherman fiasco? Disasters can also happen when creative people are given the green light to run wild without proper respect to the brand-- i.e. Oregon State's sports bra look.
With that being said, let's be honest: THE HOME UNIFORM MUST NEVER CHANGE. No blue pants, no, maize jersey, nothing. It MUST ALWAYS be the same helmet, the blue jersey, and the maize pants. Period. We're one of the single most identifiable uniforms of the sport in any era, and must be respected as such. It'd be like the Yankees showing up in red dazzle.
Tradition in branding is something that cannot be invented nor neglected-- remember what happened when Coca-Cola traded in their tradition for something new? No matter how 'cool' you think it'd be to show up in black, or with maize shirts and blue pants-- we ARE tradition, and must be proud of that. The materials will change, the template of the shirt will be cut differently as pad design evolves, etc... but we must always wear a blue shirt at home with maize letters. To mess with this is to disgrace over 128 years of the winningest program the sport of football has ever seen. No one can boast that-- not even the Steelers.
Now, as for the AWAY jerseys, yes... I've been thinking about this recently myself. It's been established that the away will continue to change, simply because the icon is associated with the home design. We've seen many changes here, and we'll see more. I've been curious as to whether or not Rich will want to do something as early as next year, if only because he didn't actually have anything to do with the current design. It's also not uncommon to ditch a design after a particularly horrid year-- we see this alot in baseball. If Rodriguez did (or is) choose to ask for a new design, I suspect that in terms of simple sales strategy, Adidas will probably push to keep the same model on the shelves for at least one more year-- eating all of the replicas they've already produced would be a big loss. If they start designing now with regards to the 2010 season, they can assess their production budgets accordingly to phase the old design out.
Personally, my biggest beef with the current AWAY shirts is that they're a common Adidas template. Other than the maize piping below the back of the helmet, Arkansas wears the same shirt, albeit in a different color scheme. Other teams do as well-- Louisville? One of the biggest things that originally got me excited about the Adidas deal is that they promised exclusive Michigan designs-- things that would only be offered to us, like hoodies with winged helmet graphics, things like that. Then what do we do? Roll out in a stock Adidas jersey template that's just been re-colored to our specifications. Let's see something truly original, yet classy enough to hold a candle to our home shirts.
Either that or let's go back to throwback simplicity. Personally I've always loved the whites worn during the 80's, with the single color blue digits and the contrasting Northwestern stripes on the sleeves. Think classic Harbaugh on the road. We could possibly see an update on that basic idea. Who knows? I could even whip up some ideas just to illustrate my point. Either way, we have a reputation to uphold, and just throwing maize all over creation is not going to do it justice.
'N that's all I have to say about that.