The Top 25 Helmet Designs in College Football
"If my mother put on a helmet that wasn't the same as the one I was wearing, I'd run over her if she was in my way. And I love my mother."
- Bo Jackson
College football helmet designs have come a long way since the idea of the helmet was introduced to football.
Helmets started off as an after thought in football. Most of the college football games between 1890 and 1920 were actually played without helmets. They were the last part of the pads to be mandated.
At first, nearly all games were played in unadorned helmets that all looked the same. School logos and other designs were rarely used.
As the rivalries between schools began to intensify, colleges and universities began to hand-paint their helmets. It was part school pride, part strategy.
The theory was that simple colors allowed receivers to be distinguishable to the quarterback down the field while they were heavily covered. Quarterbacks have an easier time finding their receivers when all the players aren't wearing the same helmets.
It wasn't until 1948 that the first logo, the Rams horns, was painted on a pro football helmet. It didn't take long before every college marketing department took over and put school logos and mascots on helmets.
Forget their protective nature, helmets are prime advertising real estate for schools!
So, which schools take advantage of that prime real estate the best?
25. Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State is probably my least favorite football team. There isn't enough time in eternity for me to tell you why, so I won't bother trying to in a slideshow.
Since I am man enough to put aside my hatred of their football team, I can give credit where credit is due. ASU has some pretty sweet football helmets.
Arizona State's maroon and gold helmets features their mascot Sparky on the verge of jamming a pitch fork into something. It has to be one of the most intimidating helmet designs in existence.
It's almost like Sparky is ready to jump right off the helmet and attack opponents. That, or he wants to bolt for a new team.
24. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville opted not to reinvent the wheel with their logo, but it plays well on their helmet design. Despite several teams having similar logo designs, Louisville's helmets help the university brand stick out.
The design might even look better if they ditched the red pinstripe.
23. Oklahoma Sooners
About the only thing on the Oklahoma helmet to change over the last 60 years has been the darkness of the crimson color. Oklahoma's helmet is very recognizable to fans across the country and features interlocking white OU logos on the sides.
22. Boise State Broncos
I will be the first to admit that I think Boise State's blue football field is a plague on the house of college football, but I will also be one of the first to say they have some pretty sweet football helmets.
The blue helmets, featuring the Bronco logo on top of white Boise State lettering looks pretty slick on HD TV. Not that they make up for the atrocious turf color, but it is a step in the right direction.
21. Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State has played around with a few helmet designs over the last 20 years, but the most recent design is the best in a long while. The green helmets with white spartan logo on the side is much better than the standalone S they previously had.
I still say they should go with a picture of Gerard Butler as King Leonidas on the side of their helmets.
20. Northern Illinois Huskies
The Northern Illinois Huskies have a great graphical design to their helmets. They are one of the more modern-looking designs for helmets today, and feature their Huskies logo on the sides.
19. Arizona Wildcats
Listen, I put Arizona on the list because I work with a guy that loves Arizona like Dwight K. Schrute loves beets, and if I didn't put the Wildcats on this list at lower than No. 20, he would become impossible to collaborate with.
Frankly, I can't handle a Dwight nagging me and flooding my inbox with Arizona propaganda all day. So, for that...I present you with the navy blue helmet featuring a bold white A on the sides.
All kidding aside, they are some great helmet designs.
18. Air Force Falcons
The Air Force Falcons are the college football team from the United States Air Force Academy. As simple as it is, the Falcons have one of the most unique designs in college football.
It might look similar to the San Diego Chargers helmets, but the design is better crafted for Air Force. The lightning bolt also seems more fitting for them, too.
17. Georgia Southern Eagles
Georgia Southern's blue and white helmets featuring player numbers on the side are a very simple version of awesome. Similar to Alabama, they don't bother complicating things for their quarterbacks...they make football like a paint-by-number game.
16. Stanford Cardinal
Superman has his version of the S, Stanford has theirs.
The Stanford cardinals go with white helmets that feature a cardinal S on the sides, as well as a cardinal pinstripe down the middle. The cardinal facemask also helps enhance the design.
15. Clemson Tigers
I am amazed at how many schools go with some combination of orange and purple for colors. Those colors make it difficult to put together a decent football helmet design.
Clemson found a way, though. Their orange helmets feature their tiger claw logo in white on both sides, and it actually comes together pretty smooth.
14. Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Nebraska helmet is kind of plain. Just a white helmet with a big red N, nothing too fancy. But Nebraskans don't need fancy, as evident by their brief attempt at the West Coast offense.
Regardless, I couldn't find one other team that had a blog devoted to their helmet. For that, the Cornhusker helmet earns a respectable spot on this list.
13. Iowa Hawkeyes
The fan in me wants the Iowa Hawkeye Football helmet design at No. 1 on this list, but every Bleacher Report reader would leave me a comment about my "blatant homerism" and other less constructive comments about my mother's sexual proclivities. So, I took an objective approach.
Iowa's black helmet featuring gold tigerhawk logo is definitely one of the most unique and identifiable brands in college football. The old school design is very recognizable to fans of any conference.
It might be outdated, but don't tell Iowans that. The last time the University of Iowa tried to update the tigerhawk logo, Hawkeye fans nearly staged a coup to overthrow the president of the university.
As Ricky Stanzi would say, "Love it or Leave it."
12. USC Trojans
I don't want to like USC's helmet, because I am not a USC fan. I initially started this list without USC on it. But the most I looked at it, and tried to think objectively about it, the more it grew on me.
The cardinal helmet with gold logo is very stoic and commands respect. I wish we could say the same for their new head coach.
11. Cincinnati Bearcats
The Cincinnati Bearcats have a very unique helmet design featuring a very clever logo. It is one of the more modern designs in college football, and looks very smooth on a player sprinting down the field for a touchdown.
10. Oregon Ducks
For the University of Oregon, helmet designs are rotated hourly. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but not by much.
Regardless of all their vast uniform experimentation, their traditional hunter green helmets featuring the Oregon "O" in yellow is spectacular. They say green is the preferred color for most of the world's geniuses.
That said, maybe Nike should hire one of them to help out with Oregon football designs this year, because some of them in 2009 were downright scary.
Ok, I've said too much. Move along now, nothing more to see here...
9. Arkansas State Red Wolves
Apparently, I like black helmet designs.
Arkansas Sate's football helmet isn't any great work of art, but the design works well. It's a black helmet with the word state written in red lettering. The A in state is bigger than the rest of the letters, making the design unique and very recognizable.
Well, recognizable for anyone that follows Sun Belt Conference football, that is.
8. Michigan Wolverines
I have been given the advice, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" several times in my life.
Finally, I am taking that advice.
7. Georgia Bull Dogs
The Georgia Bulldog red helmets with the black "G" outlined in white is a design that's hard to mistaken for any other team. For lack of anything better to say, it just looks tough.
6. Penn State Nittany Lions
White helmets with a blue pinstripe down the middle has been a long standing tradition for Penn State, dating back to the leather helmet days. Maybe it's because Paterno has been coach the whole time, or maybe it's because there really is no need to change it.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
5. Central Missouri Mules and Jennies
Putting an unfamiliar team's helmet this high in the list is bound to have a few people scratching your head. Truth be told, the University of Central Missouri's mascot, Mo the Mule, cracks me up.
Their cardinal and black colors are great, but the crazed version of Mo the Mule on the side of their helmets is amazing.
Don't mess with Mo!
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
Simple helmet designs go a long way. Ohio State demonstrates that better than any other team.
The helmet is grey with a scarlet pinstripe down the middle that's highlighted by small stripes of white and black. The helmets themselves are a simple brilliance, but the team takes them to the next level with the usage of the Buckeye Leaf stickers.
If a Buckeye player makes a good play, he is awarded with a Buckeye Leaf sticker for his helmet. If you can't see grey on a player's helmet, get out of his way!
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
The crimson helmet with white player numbers on the side is arguably one of the most classic and eloquent helmet designs in college football history. It's a simple design that has stood the test of time, and has earned a reputation.
2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The tradition of the Notre Dame football helmet is one of the greatest traditions in all of sports.
It has been a long-standing Notre Dame tradition for the student managers to spray-paint the team's helmets prior to each game, ensuring that they keep their gold shine each week and make Notre Dame football look the best that it can.
Since their helmets contain actual gold dust, I wonder how much I could get for one at a pawn shop?
1. Texas Longhorns
The Texas Longhorns football helmet is arguably the most distinguishable helmet in college football. That statement is sure to have Oklahoma fans sending me animal excrement in the mail, but it's a statement that's hard to refute.
Their helmet design is a white shell with white facemask featuring medium-sized burnt orange longhorn silhouette on both sides. They also feature small burnt orange numbers on back.
In my opinion, no other college football helmet does an overall university brand better than Texas.
Let the hate mail begin!