College Football’s Top 10 Ugliest Helmets
10. Iowa State
This offseason has seen a massive makeover of college football helmets from Missouri to Rutgers to Idaho. But there are still plenty of others that need changing. We look at the Top 10 Ugliest FBS Helmets. Thankfully, alternate lids like these are not included.
Let’s start with the Cyclones of Iowa State. First of all, while “K-State” works for Kansas State, “I-State” certainly does not work for Iowa State. And the helmet itself is a colossal bore with no personality or connection to the school.
While cheesy, the old helmet logo with team mascot Cy the Cardinal wrapped inside a twister was unique to Iowa State. How ironic that a helmet emphasizing “I” can so easily blend in to a crowd of non-descript head wear.
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The University of Akron administration opted to make the school’s mascot a kangaroo, named Zippy, in 1953. She’s now a source of pride among students and alums after being derided for many years.
Alas, it just doesn’t look like she belongs on a football helmet. It’s also hard to tell that she’s a kangaroo. A quick glance and you’d think she’d be anything from a deer to a donkey. And the back of the ‘roo crossing the “A” is just ill-conceived. Perhaps an Akron creative arts major can create a demon kangaroo for the school’s teams.
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KU? More like “pee-yoo” when it comes to the Jayhawks’ helmets.
For starters, the choice not to interlock the letters is a curious one. You’re not trying to showcase proper penmanship. You’re trying to create an insignia, the college team’s equivalent of a coat of arms. And if you’re making a letter-centric helmet, be more creative with your font choice than Trajan (we miss the days of Circus font at KU).
At this point, everyone associates Kansas athletics with the goofy Jayhawk bird. Why not keep those throwback uniforms and helmets the team wore against Mizzou a few years back? They had something the current helmets don’t: Charm.
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The Blazers’ 23–17 upset of LSU in Tiger Stadium back in 1999 was certainly shocking. But it doesn’t merit a facsimile of the Bayou Bengals’ helmets. Everything from the angling of the three letters to the roaring mascot below is a blatant rip-off.
Few sports teams can claim to have a dragon as their mascot, yet it’s barely visible on the current helmet. It looks like a green version of Mushu from Mulan.
Why not do away with the letters and play up the dragon (and flames) even more? A team like UAB that’s rebuilding from the ground up has nothing to lose.
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Two years ago, UTSA was seriously considering an orange field for its nascent football program. So we shouldn’t be surprised at their lack of aesthetics with helmets as well.
We can’t tell the difference between the birds on UTSA’s and the Baltimore Ravens’ helmets. They’re supposed to be two different types of birds. And the attempt to cram “UTSA Roadrunners” below that makes it look way too cluttered.
Our suggestion: Go with “The Road Runner” from the classic cartoons but in UTSA’s dark blue and orange colors. It’s retro, it’s funny and everyone would both recognize it and talk about it. Hey, the idea of using a cartoon for a mascot worked for Oregon.
Photo Credit: MySanAntonio.com
5. Eastern Michigan
No one will confuse the Eagles — a perennial MAC bottom-feeder — with a big-time football program. But EMU does have free reign to change their helmet so it looks like a college team’s and not a high school’s.
If they want to keep just the “E” on there, that’s fine. But no one is forcing them to use plain block lettering. A better idea would be to adopt the same (or a similar) helmet as the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. The wing design is tried and true, and since EMU already has the same color scheme, no one would bat an eye.
After all, no one raised a fuss when Duke football decided it was going to look like a Colts carbon copy.
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4. Kent State
In Kent State’s defense, it’s hard for us to envision what else a “Golden Flash” would look like. (We ask our readers to abstain from menopause jokes. Thank you.)
That being said, helmet designs are all about taking an identity and running with it. Kent State can’t seem to figure out whether it wants its nickname to convey the speed of lightning or the swooping beauty of a bird. The result is a hideous bird-bolt.
They should go back in time and bring back the helmets from 1966. While the lightning flash is a little overly reminiscent of Air Force, the color scheme is very old-school San Diego Charger-ish. And those are some of the most beloved football uniforms ever.
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3. South Alabama
That’s supposed to be a Jaguar? The first thing we think of is the title character from The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein.
For how high it is on this list, South Alabama doesn’t have to do much to fix this. As it currently looks, the white logo on an all-white helmet looks like an avatar designed in a Yahoo! Fantasy Football league. Making the helmet a dark shade of blue would correct that immediately.
If we had more money in our redesign budget, we’d also make the jaguar much more angular. Right now it looks like it’s yawning, not growling. We know it’s USA’s first year in the FBS, but at least act the part.
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2. Bowling Green
Bowling Green has changed its helmet twice in the last decade and yet it’s still got one of the worst-looking lids in the entire FBS.
When used correctly, orange can be a great color for a helmet (see: Tennessee). But between the brown facemasks, ugly logo and hideous helmet stripe that only goes halfway down the back, it’s time for the Falcons athletic department to go back to the drawing board – again.
How about switching to a white face mask, going to a normal helmet stripe and just using the bird logo without the “BG”? You’re welcome.
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1. Louisiana Tech
A memo to the Bulldogs: Just because your most famous football alum (Terry Bradshaw) played for you 40+ years ago doesn’t mean your helmets have to look like they’re stuck in that era.
The map outline of a state will never be a good look. It doesn’t seem “retro” so much as “dated.” Same with the giant “T” for Tech and the white line splitting the middle of the helmet. As for the cherry-red lid? Yeah, that can go too.
The outpouring of affection over the recent passing of the school’s live mascot, Tech XX, is a reminder that they are Bulldogs through and through. How about acknowledging that on the helmets, then?
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