When Maryland Terrapins announced they would wear special helmets and uniforms to honor the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, we thought it was a pretty cool idea. After all, the events of 1814 at Fort McHenry inspired the writing of the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Terps’ helmets featured the words to that famous song and also an outline of Fort McHenry. Seeing this snazzy look got us thinking about other unique, creative college football helmet designs from the past few years. With that in mind, here are 10 of our favorites (in alphabetical order by university). Which ones would you add to the list?
The Arizona Wildcats introduced a copper helmet in 2012 as a way to recognize the state’s mining history. Although the school’s traditional colors are red, white, and blue, the university noted that copper has “influenced architectural design” on the school’s campus. Rich Rodriguez’s team was glad to honor an important part of Arizona’s tradition and economy with an alternate helmet.
On game day, when you look into the eyes of a UConn Huskies football player, two sets of eyes stare back at you: the player’s and those of the husky wolf logo on the front of the helmet. If that’s not intimidating, we don’t know what is. Connecticut unveiled the new design before the 2013 season.
The Indiana Hoosiers’ basketball team is known for its famous “candy stripe” warmup pants. The football team went down a similar path when these helmets debuted in the 2013 season. They utilize a distinct striped pattern on an increasingly popular chrome helmet. In fact, IU expanded its helmet options from one to six the same year. However, the striped chrome design is by far the boldest look.
4. Miami (Ohio)
Thanks to a distinct feather design, the Miami Redhawks’ helmets, introduced in summer 2013, are hard to miss. According to the school, the “feathered” helmets recognize the university’s “relationship with the Miami Indian tribe,” as well as the current Redhawk mascot.
The Navy Midshipmen made this list after showing off a new “summer white” uniform look used for their 2014 opener against Ohio State. The helmets, part of a new partnership between the service academy and Under Armour, are “directly inspired by the covers that the Mids wear.”
We continue in the patriotic vein with the Northwestern Wildcats, who wore (and then auctioned off) special jerseys against Michigan in November 2013 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. While the school’s logo does appear on the back of the helmet along with the player’s number, the defining characteristic of this helmet is the stars-and-stripes combo resembling the American flag.
The Oregon Ducks could surely have an entire list of unique helmet designs to themselves due to the school’s close ties with Oregon-based Nike, as well as the team’s seemingly endless combinations of helmets, jerseys, pants, gloves, and cleats. But one look that stands out above the rest is the pink helmet the Ducks wore against Washington State back in 2013. The pink benefitted an important cause; Oregon used the alternate helmets to “help create awareness and help raise money” for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
In the summer of 2014, the Purdue Boilermakers announced that their helmets for that season’s September 27 game versus Iowa would include submitted photos of season ticket holders and students who purchased all-sport season ticket VIP Cards. They rearranged the pictures (approximately 240 in all) in the design of the school’s traditional logo and replaced the usual helmet decal for Purdue’s homecoming game that year. The university provided The Cheat Sheet with the final image, which you can see above.
The TCU Horned Frogs introduced a new helmet design for the 2013 season opener against LSU. It incorporated red accents along with the usual purple school colors. Why red? According to Nike, the striking helmet represents a “horned frog’s defense mechanism — a shot of blood from the eyes that repels encroaching foes.”
10. Virginia Tech
The Virginia Tech Hokies took the field in September 2013 wearing a special “Hokie Stone” helmet, modeled after the limestone found in the Blacksburg area. As former head coach Frank Beamer said prior to the the game: “It’s something we’re proud of. The reason I like it is because it represents what this program and this university are built on. Each piece, in its place, serving its purpose, doing its job, and when it’s all working together, it’s rock solid and it’s something special.” The helmet design also included the year Virginia Tech was founded, 1872.