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Top 20 Worst College Football Helmets Ever

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  • 20. Hawaii: Troll Rainbow Warrior (1974)

    College football has been filled with some hideous helmets recently. But what are the worst in the history of the game? We count down the Top 20 Worst College Football Helmets Ever (FBS only).

    Hawaii became an NCAA Division I football member in 1974. As such, the “Bows” (short for “Rainbows”) introduced new uniforms with an emphasis on Hawaiian culture. That includes the helmet, which included a “dwarf master builder” named Kupua on each side. Kupua’s spear extended into a rainbow. It was an eye sore that looked like a Saturday morning cartoon.

  • 19. Notre Dame: Radioactive Shamrock (1959)

    New head coach Joe Kuharich not only ditched the traditional golden dome helmet for a goofy shamrock logo, he put the shamrock upside down in order to reportedly change the luck of the program after several down years. When people are comparing your logo to the symbol for radiation, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

  • 18. Bowling Green: Mutated Falcon (1980)

    Bowling Green had spent the majority of the 1970s sporting a plain orange helmet with a stripe down the center, a la the Cleveland Browns. By the end of the decade, the Falcons felt obligated to put a logo on the side of the helmets, something that would do its bird of prey namesake proud. What BGSU got instead was a bird with exaggeratedly large wings coming to a roost.

  • 17. Maryland: Turtle Shell (2011)

    2011 was a year of ugly football (2–10 record) and uglier uniforms for the Maryland Terrapins. Exhibit A is the turtle shell design that went into one of Maryland’s helmets for the season. The gray imprints on the white background are supposed to represent the patterning on a turtle’s shell, but it really looks like a series of squiggles. From far away it looks like a player is wearing a hollowed out dinosaur egg.

  • 16. Boise State: Horse's Head (1976–1977)

    From a distance, one has trouble determining what exactly is on the helmet. Is it a piece of chicken? A gun of some kind? Then you get closer and you see the head of a horse that looks like its packing a wad of tobacco in its jowls. Or a severed horse’s head a la The Godfather.

  • 15. Michigan State: Cauliflower Logo (1973–1975)

    When Denny Stoltz was hired to take over Michigan State in 1973, he asked receiver (and art major) Michael Hurd to design a new Spartan logo for the team’s helmet. Stoltz loved Hurd’s oversized design and moved quickly to get it on the team’s helmets. MSU would have been better off keeping the small Spartans logo it featured on its helmets during the Bubba Smith Era. They were a lot sharper and, oh yeah, looked more like a Spartan than a cauliflower.

  • 14. Maryland: State Pride (2011)

    Gah! Our eyes! In Maryland’s 2011 season opener against Miami (FL), a Tim Burton-like acid trip manifested itself as a football helmet. The coats of arms of two illustrious Maryland families, the Calverts (gold and black checkerboard) and Crosslands (red and white cross bottony), split the helmet down the middle. We understand the desire to honor your state flag, but not at the expense of your dignity.

  • 13. Pitt: Dinocat (1997–2004)

    AD Steve Pederson did away with the classic Pitt script helmet — the one worn by the likes of Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett and Hugh Green — in favor of a “Dinocat” logo that resembles the world’s ugliest dog. Add to that a head-scratching rebranding of the program from “Pitt” to “Pittsburgh” and you have yourself an alienated fan base.

  • 12. Colorado: Powder Blue Buffalo (1981–1984)

    Normally, we can’t get enough of powder blue uniforms. But a powder blue plague arrived in Boulder in 1981 when the Buffaloes ditched their gold and black scheme for gold and powder blue. The resulting powder buffalo logo and facemask was simply horrific. Unsatisfied with the abomination, the Buffs added a white and powder blue stripe down the middle from 1982-84 before mercifully pulling the plug on the whole idea in 1985 for the current look.

  • 11. Florida State: Grade School Seminole (1962)

    “Seminoles” is one of the cooler nicknames in college sports. And Florida State’s Chief Osceola is one of the better mascots in sports. The idea of cheapening this imagery with a grade school caliber drawing of a Native American is mind-boggling, yet that’s what FSU did in 1962 for multi-purpose players. The helmet looks like it was drawn with a bloody finger like Wilson from Castaway.

  • 10. Virginia Tech: Hokie Stone (2013)

    Virginia Tech is so proud of the “Hokie Stone” that is used all over campus from a nearby limestone quarry that the school decided to make a helmet looking like actual stone. While we appreciate the nod to the school’s history, no helmet should look like the side of a building. What’s next: An actual brick lid?

  • 9. Connecticut: Husky Stripe (2013)

    Connecticut was Oregon-ized by Nike prior to the 2013 season but unlike the Ducks, the result for the Huskies was an abomination. UConn’s helmet are blank except for a stripe down the middle that also doubles as the eyes and ears of a Husky. The only thing uglier than these helmets on the football field is UConn’s play on it.

  • 8. Notre Dame: Shamrock Series (2012)

    Notre Dame has the most iconic college football helmets in the country but for some reason ditched them to celebrate the Fighting Irish’s “Shamrock Series” game against Miami (FL) in 2012. The asymmetrical lid with a fighting Irishman on one side and a gold portion that looked like it was covered in puffy paint must have had all the Notre Dame greats of yesteryear rolling over in their graves.

  • 7. Virginia Tech: Turkey Feet (2012)

    Virginia Tech should just stay away from alternate uniforms and helmets as a whole. For a 2012 game, the Hokies came onto the field wearing helmets with two turkey feet on the sides, as if an actual turkey had just stepped on the domes with paint. Even then-QB Logan Thomas hated the look, tweeting: “Our whiteout helmets are so ugly.” No argument here.

  • 6. Wake Forest: Backward WF (1978-1990)

    Wake Forest’s helmets are currently a huge bore with the simple “WF” letters on the side that don’t even interlock. Well, it could be worse. In the late 1970s and entire 1980s, the Demon Deacons had helmets with a bizarre “WF” logo written backwards. Huh?

  • 5. USF: Bull's Head (1997-2002)

    In fairness to USF’s “Bull’s Head” helmet, it was the first lid the program ever used and there’s bound to be growing pains as a football program gets started. But who on earth thought a logo with a bull’s head looking like a dead carcass and coming through a diamond shape would look intimidating or pleasing to the eye?

  • 4. Virginia Tech: Fighting Gobbler (2012)

    Well, hello again Virginia Tech. Don’t think we forgot about the helmets the team wore in 2012 that looked like a silhouette “Hokie Bird” (which is an animal that doesn’t even exist, by the way) engaged in a cock fight. Seriously, what did Logan Thomas do to deserve all these ugly helmets?

  • 3. Tulsa: Blue Fiber (2011)

    Tulsa has a long history of crazy uniforms, but perhaps nothing was as off-the-wall than the helmet the team wore during a 2011 game: A bizarre blue fiber-like helmet that hurt your eyes just trying to look at. It’s as if Tulsa helmet was some sort of “Magic Eye” puzzle.

  • 2. TCU: Jumbo T (1980-1991)

    You know the old cliche that everything is bigger in Texas? That was never more true than the massive “T” on the TCU helmets during the 1980s with the top of the “T” stretching almost the entire width of the helmet. Even by 1980s fashion standards, this was hideous.

  • 1. Illinois: Double Stripes (1971-1976)

    Yikes, stripes! At some point in the 1970s, someone in Champaign had the brilliant idea to revolutionize college football helmets with not one, but two helmet stripes. The result ended up looking like a terribly cheap knock-off of Michigan’s winged helmets. Needless to say, the look mercifully did not catch on.

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