Nebraska will wear hand-painted cleats against Miami.
Nebraska is proud of its tradition. And few facts make it more proud than the program's 17 Orange Bowl appearances.
When Nebraska travels to Sun Life Stadium to face Miami on Saturday, that tradition will be shown in the form of personalized cleats from Adidas and Mache Custom Cleats.
The Miami-Nebraska matchup not only pits two storied programs against each other in a non-conference game, but also it places two high-profile Adidas schools on the field at the same time. To mark the moment, Adidas brought on Soles by Sir to individualize a cleat for every Hurricanes player. And while the Nebraska specialization isn’t quite as dramatic as individual personalization, Dan Gamache still had time to create a one-of-a-kind cleat for Nebraska that not only marks the 17 Orange Bowl appearances, but also Nebraska’s return to Miami.
“Knowing the history behind the bowl games, it is a fun project to be a part of,” Gamache tells SI.com.
Seventeen Nebraska N logos fill the inner side of the cleat, all the same exact size and evenly distributed in “almost the same pattern as the stars on the American flag,” Gamache says. He envisions each N as his take on a helmet sticker, just for a cleat.
On the outside of the cleat, an artistic palm tree shadows a larger N logo. “The return back to Miami,” Gamache says, “it is a big deal.” In order to ensure there was no confusion that the foliage was a palm tree (not a marijuana leaf), Gamache downsized the N slightly to accent the tree’s trunk.
“Nebraska has their history and what they are know for is a tough team, an old-school team, the Tom Osborne team,” Gamache says. “The challenge was to do something artistic and keep to the roots of Nebraska.”
His original idea of using an ear of corn instead of the N ended up being too artistic, however, as the final design brought a return to the traditional block letter.
Each player will have his number in varsity-style lettering on the back of one cleat and “Nebraska” on the other heel. “I definitely stuck with the classic letters,” Gamache says. “Nebraska has more of a classic thing (with its uniform) and I wanted to stay true to what they had. I wanted to give it a flair, but not take away from what they stand for.”
Gamache designed three different cleats, one mid-top and two low tops, all in red and white, aiming for a design he could replicate and still give each player something unique. He hand-created 75 cleats, first drawing them all out and then creating a precut stencil for each pair. He then went down the line, painting about 10 pairs a day until each member of the team received his pair on Monday.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.