Buckeyes to wear 1943 throwback uniform for Michigan game.

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Last updated: 11/23/2010 2:20 PM
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Despite Crass Commercialism, Throwback Uniform Honors Extraordianary OSU Football Team
By Brandon Castel

Pro Combat Replica Rivalry 1942 Throwback Jersey
(click the image for a larger view)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Anyone who actually thinks Nike’s motivation for unveiling another alternate uniform for this year’s Ohio State-Michigan game was to honor the 1942 team probably also thinks LeBron James gave all that money to charity.

Make no mistake about it, this is another money-making enterprise from one of the world’s most successful marketing giants.

Nike has marketed the actual uniform the Buckeyes will wear Saturday as a “throwback” or tribute to Ohio State’s first National Champion team of 1942. They have also highlighted the benefits of wearing a jersey that feels 37-percent lighter, but the bottom line is still the same: Dollars and cents.

Pro Combat Replica Rivalry 1942 Throwback Helmet
(click the image for a larger view)

The limited edition Pro Combat Replica Rivalry 1942 Throwback Jersey can be had at the local Ohio State team shop for a cool $80. The T-shirts, which say 1942 across the front, are going for $28.

Creating a new “must-have” product and selling it as a “tribute” is the perfect way to boost sales in a down economy, but before fans boycott the new jerseys—which feature more Nike logos than Ohio State ones—they ought to consider the positive side effects of Nike’s latest strategy.

For one, the players love them.

Pro Combat Replica Rivalry 1942 Throwback Helmet
(click the image for a larger view)

“The helmets are awesome,” senior captain Brian Rolle said.

“I love our gray helmets, but those red helmets kind of stick out.”

The Buckeyes wore white helmets and white jerseys in Ann Arbor last season to honor to the 1954 National Champions, which means these seniors will leave Ohio State with four very different game-worn jerseys.

That might not speak to the more traditional fan, but it certainly piques the interest of the kids who will be wearing them against Michigan on Saturday. Coach Jim Tressel left it up to the players to decide whether or not they wanted to wear the alternate jerseys last season, and they voted overwhelmingly in favor of it. 

Pro Combat Replica Rivalry 1942 Throwback Glove
(click the image for a larger view)

The concept of alternate uniforms has turned Oregon into one of the most attractive places for top recruits around the country, but there is a lot more to these Ohio State “throwbacks” than just a cool, new look.

“They look kind of sweet. It’s a different thing. You don’t always get a chance to do this and when you do you cherish it,” senior captain Cam Heyward said.

“To honor a team like the 1942 team is a storied thing to do. I got the privilege of reading about Charles Csuri and all he’s done. To be able to pay tribute to that team and everything they’ve done over the years is unbelievable.”

This year’s jersey honors Csuri, a former Ohio State captain, with a replica of the bronze star on the back of the helmet. The M.V.P. of Paul Brown’s 1942 National Championship team, Csuri left Columbus following the 1943 season to serve his country in World War II. He received the Bronze Star for heroism in the Battle of the Bulge.

Pro Combat Replica Rivalry 1942 Throwback Pants
(click the image for a larger view)

“The 1942 team was just an unbelievable group of guys to be able to go and win a national title and then say 'I'm going to defend our country,'” senior defensive tackle Dexter Larimore said.

“To be able to represent them is almost a higher task than what's been put ahead of us in football. That group of guys were just unbelievable human beings.”

Each one of the seniors was asked to research a member of the 1942 team in order to truly pay tribute to what that group accomplished. Senior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa gave his on former All-American and perennial hall of famer Bill Willis.

“A lot of guys on his  team fought in the war, but he fought battles every day, being (one of) the first African-American’s to be a professional athlete,” Chekwa said.

Pro Combat Replica Rivalry 1942 Throwback Shoes
(click the image for a larger view)

“He kind of opened doors for guys like Jackie Robinson who is famous for what he did in baseball.”

The 1942 Ohio State team really opened the door for the modern era of Buckeye football. Since that season, the Buckeyes have won six more consensus national titles, including Tressel’s first in 2002.

“I think it’s cool. I like them and I think it’s really cool we get to do something for the 1942 team in honor and in memory of those guys,” senior cornerback Devon Torrence said.

“It’s something that spices up the season and spices up college football.”

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