Typically, aesthetics are overlooked in college football until a program unveils something spectacularly bad.
And sometimes the new look is really bad.
Instead of focusing on the unfortunate, though, we're taking a brief offseason moment to commend teams for paying attention to headwear—and in some cases not messing with it.
While a No. 1 spot is awarded, this list is not a ranking of the best helmets. Rather, the focus is on identifying the best categories and trends of helmets and facemasks in college football today.
5. Multicolored Facemasks
Thanks to Phil Knight and Nike, Oregon sits atop the uniform rankings. The program literally has thousands of possible combinations yet still breaks out new gear seemingly every weekend.
But the Ducks' facemasks are also ahead of the game.
Without a doubt, there's a decent amount of risk here. This feature could be abused in a hurry, but one example is quite tasteful. Oregon's silver wings blend into the primary yellow.
Rival Oregon State has flaunted a comparable look. While the Ducks' design goes from outside in, the stripes on the Beavers' helmets continue down onto the fasemask.
However, the question is which program's twist will be met with a negative review—something that seems imminent.
You're pushing it, Miami (Ohio).
4. Extra-Large Logos
Most helmet designs are perfectly symmetrical. No matter which side you're looking at, it's the same thing.
Recently, though, boundaries have started to get pushed. The 2011 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Boise State and Georgia—which also featured a multicolored facemask—displayed helmets with extra-large logos on one side and a number on the other.
Among others, Arizona State has joined the trend.
Boise State remains no stranger to sporting the massive logo, but the program combined it with a personal favorite, too.
3. Matte or Flat-Black Helmets
Chrome is fine, but a non-glossy black helmet is terrific.
Boise State showcased Halloween-themed digs against UNLV last season, complete with an orange eye for the Broncos logo. They also sported a great look in the 2012 MAACO Bowl.
This trend is catching on with stops all over the country. The list includes representatives from the ACC (North Carolina), Big Ten (Northwestern and Purdue), Big 12 (Baylor), MAC (Buffalo), Pac-12 (Utah and Washington) and SEC (Missouri), and that's certainly not all.
Here are some examples, like Missouri's back in 2013:
North Carolina busts out the helmet on occasion:
And finally, Northwestern:
2. Timeless Classics
Despite the fancy and often good-looking upgrades teams receive today, they'll simply never match or overtake tradition.
Each school listed in this section falls under the "blue blood" category—a program that has participated in college football for a long time and is basically revered as royalty in the sport.
Although the helmet design changes, the design of the helmet doesn't need alterations. When players put on this helmet, they're wearing something that exemplifies the history of the program.
"Simple, yet elegant" defines this group, starting with Alabama:
Nebraska dropped the "U" from its helmet in 1970 and hasn't changed:
Notre Dame underwent an "exhaustive" process to make sure the helmet's color properly replicated the Golden Dome on campus, per its official site:
Ohio State complements the black-, white- and red-striped helmet with Buckeye stickers— a tradition legendary head coach Woody Hayes started in 1968, per the school:
Here's Penn State—and a bonus second appearance by Northwestern's beautiful non-glossy black helmet.
Lastly, here's Tennessee's renowned block "T":
1. The Winged Helmet
Relativity is a funny thing. Imagine for a moment Michigan releasing the design today, and it wouldn't be surprising if the reception wasn't all that great.
However, the winged helmet dates back to 1938, according to the school. Thanks to that history, the pattern is synonymous with college football and should never, ever be touched.
Delaware and Princeton also wear similar versions of the winged helmet, a practice which Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch noted doesn't have an official beginning, though a version existed at Michigan State in 1934.
Wolverines and Spartans fans may proceed to argue about that, but there's no denying the Maize and Blue popularized the most recognizable look in college football.