Untucked — more than just a jersey

Marquette University was the gateway in a era when the paradigm was conservative and there was no individuality. At Marquette you could do what you wanted and be yourself. In a way it was the perfect University for Al McGuire and Bo Ellis.

Al McGuire and Bo Ellis were different from what was usually seen in basketball, but a good kind of different for Marquette University. “Al was comfortable in his own skin,” says Doc Rivers. “He had a different beat, a cool and unique beat.” Al wasn’t your typical coach, and everyone knew it. He came to Marquette University in 1966, a time when the team wasn’t at their best. But Al, “he had a different style, a different philosophy,” according to Max McGowan. He was going to change the team and the way they played and the way they looked at things. Al recruited eccentric players, because he himself was an eccentric man, and one of those players was Bo Ellis.

Bo Ellis with Coach Al McGuire

Bo Ellis was not only a great player but he was key, along with McGuire, in showing that Marquette was different and they were the first to be different. One main way in which the basketball team did this was through their uniforms. Marquette, in fact, was known to have several different uniforms come out each year. “Marquette had the coolest jerseys in sports, they were fly as hell.” Some of their most notable were the off centered circle, the bumblebee stripe, side checkered stripes, arrowheads on the side, and the teal blue with yellow tapered side. This last design was actually that of Bo Ellis’. He was the first and only basketball player to ever design a basketball uniform for the team.

Bo Ellis’ untucked designed uniform
Ellis’ design making headlines

Part of the reason for this was because of Al McGuire. Al wasn’t like most coaches; he allowed for Bo Ellis to go to another school, while playing basketball, and study his passion of design. Bo Ellis’ design was one that marked history, because of how different it was — the untucked style. It was not traditional, it was different, and others wanted to stop it. It did end up later being outlawed but that jersey marks Marquette University for being the unique and different University that it was. Bo Ellis and Al McGuire stood for that change and that difference. Al even says of Bo, “There were people who told me not to recruit [Bo]. But [Bo] taught me that before you pass judgment, you get to know them yourself.”

This kind of thinking though wasn’t the norm in that time, it was looked down upon, and that’s what made Marquette stand out. Others thought that the untucked style that came to represent Marquette, meant that the team was “undisciplined” but they were the exact opposite, says one player, “[they] were the most disciplined.” Al had the ability to give freedom but he also had the ability to make freedom unified. There was a uniqueness about Marquette, but he was able to unify the team under that idea. Even Bo says of the team, “That was the type of team we were, we just lifted each other up no matter what,” commenting on how they had him on their shoulders, supporting him after they had won the NCAA Championship game.

The 1977 championship team
Bo Ellis being hoisted up by his teammates to cut the net

Marquette basketball made a name for itself, and part of that credit goes to Al McGuire and Bo Ellis. But part of that credit can also go to the famous ‘untucked’ jersey.