Published Wednesday, May 18, 2011 AT 10:59 AM / Updated at 11:57 AM
Ranking Big Ten helmets
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

As a native of Cleveland and thus a fan of the teams that call the city home, my wife Molly has quietly grown accustomed to sports suffering. Not for Indians – she thinks baseball is about as exciting as lawn darts – or even so much the Cavaliers. It’s the Browns, once the greatest professional football franchise, now something of a quaint piece of history.

The Pittsburgh Steelers mock the Browns. Any Browns fan knows this. The Steelers have a lovely, loyal owner, coaches who stay for a long time and quarterbacks who generally pan out. They play a fun, aggressive brand of defense.

Anyway, we’re used to it. But Tuesday, I got ticked. Nay, steamed. ESPN’s football writers, twiddling thumbs during the lockout, decided to rank NFL helmets. Pittsburgh was No. 1. Now, we’re being told, that a dull black helmet adorned – on just one side! – with a white circle, three concave diamonds and the word “Steelers” is suddenly the best helmet in the NFL?

My wife and I hashed this out, actually, more than a year ago, over wings and mozzarella sticks. All the helmets, first to worst. And our list was honorable. We ended up selecting Miami and Philadelphia for co-No. 1.

The better helmet debates exist on the college level, where the guapo-to-feo range is vast. Especially in the Big Ten, home to the most iconic head gear (Michigan) the plainest head gear (Penn State) and the school that can never make up its mind (Michigan State).

According to The Helmet Project – a site of total awesomeness – the Spartans have used 16 different helmets since 1960. That’s the most in the league (although far less than Iowa State and Kansas in the Big 12). The Wolverines have used just three different versions since then, and one of the changes simply involved the color of the facemask.

In the interest of starting a rather middling debate here in the month of May, here’s how I’d rank the Big Ten helmets. (The point of this, obviously, is for you to strongly disagree and say so in the comments section).

  1. Michigan – Obvious, right? Here’s the history of it for Big Blue.
  2. Nebraska – A clean, memorable look. That N is still a masterpiece of typography.
  3. Ohio State – With a full helmet of Buckeye stickers, of course. Chris Spielman style.
  4. Purdue – It’s hard to go wrong with gold, but I also like that fast-moving P.
  5. Iowa – Nothing else like it. Extra points for the “America Needs Farming” sticker on the back.
  6. Indiana – Liberace’s favorite helmet: The IU looks like a candelabra.
  7. Penn State – I’m guessing some will rank the Nittany Lions last.
  8. Michigan State – Its Spartan is no USC Trojan, that’s for sure.
  9. Northwestern – Good colors, but did a mouse nibble away at that N?
  10. Illinois – Illini fans must need to be reminded what team they’re supposed to root for.
  11. Minnesota – Hard to read the trapezoidal-looking M.
  12. Wisconsin – Let’s face it: The W looks like Clip Art.

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at sam.mckewon@owh.com. And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.

Comments

  1. Nate says:

    With regards to #5, the Kansas State helmet looks pretty similar to Iowa’s. I recall reading some years ago that KSU used the Iowa logo as an inspiration for the current design.

    1. Andew Davis says:

      If we are talking just helmets, which is the title of this article….Nebraska’s is terrible, it looks just like Northwestern, minus the chip off the N and there’s was ranked 9th. Nebraska’s helmet is almost too simple, its almost close to being Penn St #7 with nothing on the dang helmet! ……Michigan,Iowa, Michigan St, Ohio St(buckeye’s decals make this helmet) all at top for helmets….Michigan 1st.

    2. JIM says:

      I am pretty sure the that K-State had their logo changed when Bill Snyder took over, who coached under Fry. I am also sure that he used the same logo search as Iowa.

  2. Gregg says:

    Good work Sam and nice call for Wisconsin. Now if you can move to jerseys and get the stripes off of Nebraska’s sleeves you will be an icon yourself.

  3. Matt says:

    Michigan is probably a no brainer at #1. After that its probably a tie between Nebraska, OSU, and Penn State for the number 2 spot. I’m obviously biased toward Nebraska, but both the OSU and Penn St helmets are nearly iconic. This is one place the Big10 completely dominates the Big12. There isn’t a bad helmet in the B10 bunch, even Indiana and Minnesota look cool.

  4. Zonie87 says:

    Of course you are all wrong, Sam…

    1. Nebraska – Clarity, purity, powerful, no nonsense, most recognizable brand in CFB :-)
    2. Michigan – one of the few things that the whiners got right
    3. Purdue – good helmet colors; the ‘P’ reminds one of some fun pejoratives to call the team
    4. Iowa – the Hawk is actually kind of cool, and black matches the hearts of Iowa fans
    5. Michigan State – if the white helmet didn’t look like a modern art flag of truce this has some possibilities; green and white such, though
    6. Northwestern – only an acclaimed “journalism” college could produce such a pathetic ‘N’, and that is (the letter N) the only thing that ranks it this high
    7. Minnesota – at least you can tell from the helmet color it’s not Missouri
    8. Indiana – what the heck is that?
    9. Wisconsin – stoner font from a bad flashback
    10. Ohio State – no flair, branding sucks
    11. Illinois – failed Halloween scheme
    12. Penn State – plain ugly

    1. Topper90 says:

      Biased? Here is an objective list.

      1. Michigan – Classic
      2. Ohio State – Bueckeyes nice look
      3. Iowa
      4. Purdue
      5. Michigan State
      6. Penn State
      7. Nebrasaka – not as simple and plain as PSU. Not a classic just old looking
      8. Wisconsin
      9. Minnesota
      10. Northwestern
      11. Indiana – wait it will change in a few years
      12. No Logo just a name?

    2. JMR says:

      If there is a helmet in CFB that is the “dominant” or the “best” in terms of branding, it’s definitely Michigan’s, sorry to break that to you.

      1. Matt R says:

        JMR is right. Most recognizable helmet is no doubt Michigan

  5. SeeGreen says:

    While Michigan’s wings have become iconic, they are not original. That school down the road used them before them.
    “The official debut of the winged helmet was Michigan State College’s home opener on September 30, 1933. The winged helmets were a Michigan State College symbol two years before they were introduced at Princeton University, and five years before they were introduced at University of Michigan.”

    http://www.spartanjerseys.com/michigan-state-football-jerseys/the-official-history-of-the-winged-helmet.html

    1. Tad says:

      The Frankfort Yellow Jackets actually wore the winged helmet before 1933. They used it in the late 20s until they ended in 31. Look at the Philadelphia Eagles thowback jerseys (the ugly baby blue and yellow). they used wings with one stripe instead of 3 stripes, but they did have it first.

      1. Teddy says:

        Close, but not quite. Michigan State used colored winged helmets before either Princeton or Michigan (as did, other schools). The difference was that their model, which could be ordered in custom colors from Spalding, had one stripe. Michigan and Princeton used the version with three stripes that were only available in black and tan. Hence the need to paint them. Other teams abandoned the design, Michigan turned it into an icon.

  6. Marques says:

    Wow … just goes to show you how much personal preferance goes into this. Full disclosure … I’m a Wisconsin fan. The motion W helmet FAR outranks Indiana, Purdue, Illiniois and Northwestern. And you guessed some would rank Penn State last??? Seriously??? I’d put it second right behind Michigan. And while I realize this is a Nebraska blog … I’ve never been high on that boring N. Don’t give me some argument on tradition. I’m all for simplicity (see my love PSU) but that just doesn’t do it for me. Sorry, just personal opinion.

  7. Jason says:

    Am I the only one who likes the simple and clean look of PSU? It’s pretty impressive if you own the color white as your school’s iconic look.

  8. Brady says:

    Hypocrisy at every corner. You say the Wisconsin logo looks like Clip Art, which I am note denying it does, but you say the Nebraska logo is “a masterpiece of typography.” at least the W looks like it is going somewhere… the N looks like it got painted on by a third grader who used a stencil.

  9. Andrew says:

    Badger fan…your helmet comes in dead last. And I don’t just mean in the B10. You have no argument whatsoever. Worst W I’ve ever seen. Minnesota, Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois aren’t far behind…and I’m an Illini fan.
    Michigan, Neb, PSU, Iowa and Ohio St are at the top in that order. After that I’d take Mich St. All the rest are just plain hideous.

    1. Marques says:

      I have no argument? As I said, it’s personal preference. I never intended to make some logical line of premises with which to support my opinion. Again, biased but I love the W and hope they never change it. It’s copied by an inordinate amount of division II programs and high schools around the country. Every year the school is locked up in some legal battle to prevent that from happening. These other schools seem to like the logo quite a bit. Then again, I have a hard time ranking helmets as there are very few I would ever hate.

      If you hate plain helmets then you probably put OSU and PSU last. I tend to love the plain helmet and therefore put them at the top. Personal preference. Fun to debate.

  10. Thunderous_Applause says:

    “Now, we’re being told, that a dull black helmet adorned – on just one side! – with a white circle, three concave diamonds and the word “Steelers” is suddenly the best helmet in the NFL? ”
    It was iconic enought that Hayden Fry at Iowa copied it…
    The Steel emblem is the same as US Steel, found on Steel shipments. The brand means something. Watch Mad Men.

    Tie for last: Minnesota and Michigan State get failing grades for going with new Nike branding these recent years…
    10. Illinois – What can I say? Just look at it. It’s just a word. In a bad font. It’s just sitting there. It’s underlined. It wants to be something else. Something with a letter or symbol.
    9. Northwestern – The black face mask (and black jerserys) are trying too hard to be tough…
    8. Wisconsin – I used to think this helmet looked good, but the author is correct – it now looks too much like bad clip art, with the shadowing… At least it looks good on their O-Linemen.
    7. Indiana – Yes, recent branding, but a fairly solid look. Just needs time to “breathe” – Ask Jim Delany what that means.
    6. Purdue – Decent. It’s not so much “fast moving” as it is “in Italics”. Font experimentation is what the helmet is about. But what else are they going to do? Indiana is looking to pass you on my list, Purdue. It’s a matter of time. There’s nothing you can do about it.
    5. Iowa – Decent looking helmet. Classic.
    4. Ohio State. Decent looking. Classic.
    3. Penn State. Penn State gets a slight edge over tOSU for not taking credit for every single decent block. I’m a fan of the simple look.
    2. Nebraska – There could really be a 2-3-4-5 tie here. They’re all that close. Ironic just how bad the “NU” helmets were, just before they ran out of “U”s and stumbled upon such a great, clean, look. No one must have cared back then.

    1. Michigan – Helmet style, personified. Classic NCAA helmet. Ask Mathman. They weren’t the first to wear the winged design. Just the best. (I’m looking at you, Delaware.)

    Now if someone could convince NU to remove the patch from their jersey. Seriously. A “winning tradition”? Must that be spelled out on the uniform? While you’re at it, remove the N from the pants. The helmet is enough – no one is confused.

  11. bazcat says:

    I can’t stand helmet stickers … OSU gets #13 on my list.

  12. newyorkhusker says:

    I love reading these comments. Matter of fact, we all love college football. I can see the expression here how much everybody showing their love & passion for this sport. That’s what make college football so great. By the way N is the art of typography, no doubt about it. I have study typography so I can say that in full confidence. That N says a lot for the husker nation. Matter of the fact Nebraska’s helmet is so decent. No complain, it’s a master piece. I won’t rank no. 1 but I can say it is one of the best among all best helmets in ncaa.

    1. Tim says:

      Too bad you didn’t study grammar. The fact that you are apparently functionally illiterate invalidates everything you said.

  13. Ron Scribner says:

    I think the coolest uniforms in college football with helmet, jersey, and pants has to go to UCLA. I hate them but they have cool uniforms. I really wish Nebraska would go back the old jerseys with the script numbers. They were the best. It was so beautiful see the old throwback uniforms. I thought they were they best. Made us look like monsters.

  14. DP says:

    To say that Cleveland was “once the greatest professional football franchise” is freaking hilarious. Even in their prime they couldn’t hold a candle against THE franchise: Green Bay Packers. If it is Brown, flush it down.

    As for the helmets:
    Who cares… it’s the record that counts!

    1. Robert says:

      Obviously you know very little of the history of the Cleveland Browns franchise. On a cold, rainy day maybe you could research it some. The Browns only played in 10 consecutive championship games from the mid 40′s through the mid 50′s winning 7 of them including 3 NFL championships. The first year they moved from the AAFL to the NFL they won the title. Pro football has a long history and I will concede that the Packers are the most iconic franchise in the NFL. However, the Browns take a back seat to know one after the Pack. Read a little and you might learn something

  15. Husker Dave in SD says:

    The michigan helmets always reminded me of these beetles that used to eat the leaves on the potato plants in my mom’s garden.

    1. Ryan says:

      cool story bro…

  16. Carol says:

    Although I have never really like the Nebraska helmets because they are so plain, I can’t think of any other logo to replace the N…maybe a Corn Cob…..uh, NO! I do hope we change our uniforms to look less like Wisconsin, however. I, too, hate stickers on the helmets. I have always liked Michigan’s helmets, if not the team. The others kind of go into a blurr…nothing outstanding or different really.

  17. Luke Ortman says:

    The Big Ten for all its tradition and history has terrible uniforms. Two of the best are new to the conference, Penn State and Nebraska. People tend to overate Michigan’s and Ohio State’s just because of their tradition. If you look all over college as well as pro football, most uniforms are forgettable. I think you have to take age out of the equation and if you rank them just based on looks, older programs with storied traditions would not be ranked as high. That being said, the block “W” on Wisconsin’s helmet is nice and crisp looking.

  18. Dan says:

    Rather disappointed that you took so much time to think of cute insults when talking about the Michigan State helmet and no time, evidently, in research. The current Spartan helmet design has been used for over a decade with only changes to the stripe. I think you will find that respect flows both ways and maybe this is a new concept to writers who have never covered the Big Ten. All of us love our schools and only ask that your coverage be fair. Let me help you out with an example…….as a Spartan fan I don’t like the Weasels from Ann Arbor but they have one of the best helmets in college football. See how that works…..have a nice day.

  19. Brett says:

    Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette had the same idea on Tuesday. He has Nebraska at 6.
    http://thegazette.com/2011/05/17/rate-the-big-tens-football-helmets/

  20. Gary Gill says:

    Please, Nebraska and Wisconsin fans debating which red letter is better on their helmets? Of course Michigan’s helmet is the best and then anything with a Spartan on it is next (I’m an Iowa fan). The third best is Iowa’s but I like the wrestling logo better than the tiger hawk (fred flinstone if rotated up), and then the silver and gold domers and then everyone else, including Nebraska and Wisconsin. The loser of that battle should have to wear a blue lettered helmet in the next game they play together.

  21. Danny says:

    Why is the Ohio State helmet soooo sparkly? Looks like something my girlfriend bedazzled.

    1. Robert says:

      It’s another way we “pay” our players at The OSU. That’s actually real silver and after the season they melt them down and get to keep the silver.

  22. Norris says:

    Of the worst helmets I’d say they are Minnesota, Northerstern, Illinois, Nebraska, and Indiana. Sorry, there is a fine line between simplicity and boring, and Nebraska’s N goes just over that line into boring. Wisconsin’s is on the middle of the pack, like it or not it has some pizzazz and is a bit unique. I do like Michy’s of course, and MSU’s is nice, OSU’s and PSU’s are just fine.
    But that stupid remark about clip art? Hello! They’re emblems on helmets, so they’re all clip art!

  23. John says:

    Yup Clip Art is better than a Stencil..and that Clip Art is going to run all over Nebraska in the Big Ten Opener

  24. Jarrod says:

    Best description of the Wisconsin helmet I’ve ever heard.

  25. Alden says:

    Michigan’s ‘Winged’ helmet is stupid and always has been. It has absolutely nothing to do with their mascot.
    Nebraska’s ‘N’, a ‘masterpiece of typography’ ?? really?, it’s not unique or inovative, even for it’s time. Yea sweet that it has tradition, but it’s not cool, it’s not even up to the level of clip art, it looks exactly like this… wait for it… N …. whoooaaaaaa!!! AMAZING!!!

    1. Scott says:

      hahaha… This cracks me up! You Sir just made my day. Im a Husker fan and i still find your post to be the best one ive read yet. Bonus points to you

    2. MichiVisitor says:

      I know wolverines (the furry version) were thought to be extinct in Michigan, until the discovery of one made national news a year or so ago. But as to the Michigan helmet not related to its mascot– Have you ever seen a picture of a genuine wolverine? Granted, it’s not maize & blue. But here’s a link to a picture:
      http://www.cafepress.com/+wolverine_mini_poster_print,436036753

      And welcome to the conference, Nebraska.

  26. Austin says:

    Whats with all this middle of the pack stuff for michigan st.? Sparty and Iowa have hands down the coolest logos in the Big Ten, and definetly top 5 in the nation. Sparty also has the best mascot, but little red definetly challenges that title a little bit. Im ranking OSU 1, Sparty 2, Iowa 3, PSU 4, and Michigan is dead last (there this low cause there isn’t an uglier sight in college football than 100,000+ Wal-Mart Wolverines cheering as Michigan storms the field).

    1. bob says:

      ah, a jealous sparty raises its ugly head!

  27. Luke says:

    How Iowa doesn’t rank #1 on this list across the board is beyond me. Any team that puts a letter on their helmet is just plain lazy and unimaginative. I’d rank the Iowa helmet in the top 5 across the nation right up there with Texas and USC.

    1. Dan says:

      Criticizing other teams’ helmets for being unimaginative is pretty ballsy when the Iowa uniform is a complete rip-off of the Steelers’ uniform, with Rooney’s go-ahead and everything. The hawkeye logo is pretty cool, but since it’s the only imaginative thing on the whole uniform, it doesn’t make up for the lack of originality on the rest of the helmet. The cool logo is just enough to move the helmet from bottom-of-the-pack to somewhere-in-the-middle.

      1. Rupert says:

        Um…we’re talking about helmets and your argument is about the uniform. Then you say the “rest” of the helmet is unoriginal. Aside from the logo, the “rest” of the helmet is just a color (for just about everyone)

  28. Adam says:

    Michigan fan here, I’m biased and I would obviously rank them first if I were to do so. By the way – you’ll see this now that you’re in the Big Ten – but a lot of times Notre Dame just gets added into rankings like these around the Big Ten’s footprint. ND is essentially a third school major football team for Indiana and Michigan (being on the border of both), the biggest in Chicago and followed by those that aren’t Buckeye fans in Ohio, so I’ll throw them in here as well.

    I would rank the remaining helmets as follows:

    1. Penn State – Classic, probably overrated when just looking at just the helmet but when combined with the jerseys, very iconic.
    2. Notre Dame – I still like the classic looks. Too much tradition, whether it’s the 24k gold in the paint or the Golden Domer nickname (for both the domes of the buildings and their noggins), this is tradition.
    3. Iowa – Just looks great to me and is very original. Black and yellow is very easy to overdo and end up looking like a bumblebee. They do a good job making it look clean.
    4. Nebraska – I would probably rate them higher if they didn’t remind me of Alabama helmets…I hate Alabama’s helmets. Classy and reflect the program’s image.
    5. MSU – Don’t listen to Sparty…they do change them all the time. They just like to whine and complain. Sharp helmets, though.
    6. Northwestern – While this may be like calling them the sharpest butter knife, Northwestern has the best looking purple uniforms in all of sports. Haha can’t believe I typed that.
    7. Indiana – Dad is an IU grad and we had an IU flag hanging in our basement. Always thought the cactus, while not actually a cactus, was sort of cool. I mean, it’s Indiana football, they don’t really care where they rank. Their candy stripe basketball warm-ups are iconic, though.
    8. Illinois – Boring but I like the colors. Reminds me of Florida’s script helmet and I think that’s sharp. A few minor changes could really make a difference.
    9. Wisconsin – Obviously you have not seen some of their old helmets, as this is a HUGE improvement. Check out the helmet project Sam linked and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
    10. Minnesota – They have this great Gopher mascot in which they could do all sorts of things, but they stick to the diagonal M. Still, it’s better than Missouri and Mississippi State copying Michigan’s block M.
    11. Ohio State – Yes, I’m a Michigan fan and am biased. Yes, they are classic. Still, what’s up with the sparkling bass-boat paintjob? I also don’t think it’s that cool to stick pictures of a nut on your helmet. Maybe it’s just me.
    12. Purdue – I don’t know, seems like a lot of people like this helmet. It’s too similar to rival Notre Dame and I think they can do better than an italicized bolded P.

  29. Wayne says:

    You’re right. The Spartan is no USC trojan, it is much more clear and percise, in fact if they kept the single straight stripe down the middle and don’t change it every few years, I’d argue that it’s a top 3 big ten helmet. The Penn State and Ohio State ones are nice, but plain which makes them middle of the pack. Michigan’s helmet design actually helps them recruit, however I wouldn’t say the Nebraska one does. I don’t really get the love for Nebraska’s helmet, it’s plain, simple and does the job but isn’t amazing, probably work a #4 finish in the rankings. Also, most people rank helmets by how good the programs are and don’t even realize it (evident in the NFL helmet rankings). I’ll try to not do that. #1 Michigan, #2 Michigan State, #3 Nebraska, #4 Iowa, #5 OSU, #6 Minesota, #7 Wisconsin, #8 Penn State, #9 Purdue, #10 IU, #11 ILL, #12 NW

  30. Dan says:

    You can call me crazy, but you’d be wrong. Here’s how I’d rank ‘em:
    1. Michigan – Can’t beat a classic design
    2. Minnesota – I like seeing the maroon and gold on a non-USC team, and a letter-helmet at that. I like the angled M too, it has character. Perhaps it helps that I remember when they were more of a force to be reckoned with.
    3. Michigan State – Neck and neck with Minnesota, here’s another team that does it better and classier than USC. The Spartans have a cleaner look than the Trojans, with better and more meaningful colors.
    4. Nebraska – A little on the boring side, but powerful in its simplicity too. Neck and neck with Penn State.
    5. PSU – Even more boring than Nebraska, but owning the color white is pretty awesome in its own right.
    6. Purdue – Simple but flashy. And they used gold and black without looking anything like the Steelers. Unlike….
    7. Iowa – Although confessed Steelers clones, the cool hawkeye logo saves their rep just enough to keep them out of the basement.
    8. OSU – The helmet’s cool enough, if a little plain, but all the lame pot stickers drive me crazy.
    9. IU – Problem: Your colors are red and white like so many others, and you’re not good enough to own them. How do you stand out? Turning the I & U into a devilish looking pitchfork is a good start.
    10. Illinois – Orange and blue, I can dig that. But how boring is it to just write the name of your team?
    11. Northwestern – Sorry, no-one in the history of football has ever been scared of purple.
    12. Wisconsin – Red and white, again? And making the clip-art ‘W’ twice as big just looks like you’re trying to compensate for something.

    1. Shawn says:

      Honestly, you continue to harp on the “confessed Steelers clones” for Iowa, when that is not the point of this article. This is about Helmets, not the overall uniform. For a different article about jerseys, you have a point; For this article, you are completely confused and wrong.

  31. Jeff says:

    I think all the Big Ten teams’ uniforms are great, whether they are plain or fluffed up. I agree with the comments that do not like stickers on the helmets. I must say, however, if you ever see a sharp, color photo of those Michigan players, that those uniforms look sharp. I agree with the one comment, though, that the blue is too dark and comes across on TV as black. Except for that, their uniforms come as close to perfection as one can get.

  32. Norris says:

    Dan – Compensating for what, a Big Ten Championship? A top 10 ranking?
    You can see that ”W” from near and far, which is a good thing I thought.
    And I’ve heard that at Wisconsin they trademarked it, and have had many teams try to copy it. If it is so bad, why are so many teams copying it? Got tons of teams trying to copy the ”N” of Nebraska? Doubtful.
    Look, I’m not saying the Wisconsin helmet is one of the best, I’m only saying it’s fine and not bad, but I’m also saying the plain Jane N of Nebraska’s helmet may be traditional, but it’s certainly nothing special to brag about either.
    It’s in no way good enough to be able to hold it over other helmets and put them down.
    Again with the stupid clip art reference…they’re all clip art! And This is also true of the Bears, the Packers, the Saints, the Cowboys, the Steelers, the Redskins, the 49ers, etc. Get it? It’s all clip art, because they’re all just logos!
    Not a good criteria for criticism, as it’s not like anybody had Renoir paint their helmets.
    But the ugliest helmet to me, by far, is the blue Arizona helmet. Yeesh.

  33. Barlin Mando says:

    I get Delaware and Meatchicken confused.

  34. Brian says:

    seriously? you are that bored?

    BTW, Wisconsin and Nebraska wear the same uniforms thanks to Alvarez.

    1 Michigan, obvious
    2 Iowa, instant recognition
    3 Ohio State, love the buckeye stickers
    4 Penn State, classic
    5 Purdue, wrong shade of gold, but OK
    6 Nebraska, classic, but not as cool as PSU
    7 Wisconsin, uglier version of #6
    8 Northwestern, cool logo, but purple is ugly
    9 Michigan State, cool logo, but that funky strip is horrible
    10 Minnesota, ugly logo, ugly colors
    11 Indiana, could be better, typical Indiana fail
    12 Illinois, seriously, maybe worst in all of FBS

  35. Alex says:

    What a bunch of divas on here… arguing over helmet design?! Sign that the apocalypse is upon us…. gotta go, have some drinking to do before the rapture.

  36. Tom Wysocki says:

    The motion “W” is a reference to Wisconsin’s state motto “Forward.”. See you all in the fall HUSKERS. ON WISCONSIN

  37. Al says:

    I’m not a big fan of the Illinois helmets either, but boring…….huh? Somehow Penn State and Nebraska are considered works of art. Guys………….THEY’RE WHITE HELMETS WITH A THIN BLUE OR RED STRIPE DOWN THE MIDDLE! Oops, forgot Neb. has that cutting edge “N” on the side……….ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
    Would love to see ILL return to the Dick Butkus era with orange helmets, thick white stripe with a thin blue stripe down the middle and blue numbers on the side. Unfortunately the NCAA took our mascot away from us…….CHIEF!!!!!!!!

  38. HuskerMark says:

    Checked out the helmet project link given in the story. Hard to keep bias out, so eliminated Nebraska and ranked the other 11 before inserting NU.

    Based PURELY on personal preference, if I was picking out a helmet to represent my team for fantasy football or whatever…

    1) Michigan. Slipping as other teams with same helmet are getting air time.
    2) NU. The use of white space and color make it hard to ignore.
    3) PSU – stark, clean, pure.
    4) MSU. Colors, not so much the logo (not into Sparta/Greek/Roman stuff).
    5) Illinois. Love the colors and don’t mind the spelled out name at all. Instant recognition.
    6) Purdue. Like the colors.
    7) Iowa. Ominous black with a chicken/rooster on the side. And now I see Fred Flintstone thanks to previous poster. Logo needs harsher lines to look intimidating and shoot to top of list.
    8) Wisconsin. Why are you shouting? “W” is too big.
    9) Indiana. Agree with previous post to make it pronged like a spear instead of squared like candelabra. Only rated this high because of colors.
    10) Ohio State. You see silver, I see shiny grey. Without stickers, it has no appeal to me at all. White is vibrant, black is intimidating, mix them together and grey is boring.
    11) Northwestern. Needs to go with an NW and embrace full multi-directionality.
    12) Minnesota. Last because the logo is barely legible. Want team recognized at a glance.

    Again, based on personal preference. No feelings of objective fans were hurt compiling this list.

  39. Yup says:

    It goes like this-

    1. Michigan – Miaze & blue contrast pops and the throwback design is rich and beautiful. If MSU really “pioneered” the winged helmet design (which because pretty standard lether helmet fare) as one poster claimed, then they were obviously too dumb to know the value of what they had and keep it (maybe they were too busy burning couches and getting arrested & tear-gassed back then too)…the Wolverines weren’t and did.
    2. OSU – If they lost the sparkles and went to regular grey, they’d rival Michigan’s famed winged helmets–ok, who am I kidding–they wouldn’t. But they’d inch closer at least. Love the red/white/black stripe. Nothing like seeing a row of silver bullet helmets lined up against a row of winged helmets.
    3. Nebraska – They creamy white with the simple N and stripe — love it. They have the balls to stick with what tey had during an era when most teams don’t. It’s another homage to a bygone era like Michigan’s.
    4. Iowa – That’s one mean look’n chicken.
    5. Penn State – They looked better back when the white was a little more ivory-looking ala the early 80′s. This arctic white is a bit shocking but the helmets rock nonetheless. They scream, “We don’t need decals to kick your ass.”
    6. Illinois – Call me crazy but the orange & blue combo gets me. I don’t mind the “ILLINOIS” on the side–didn’t seem to make the old Giants helmets look too bad when they were winning superbowls.
    7. Wisconsin – The “clip-art” W actually looks pretty cool. It looks unoriginal only because every high school in America whose name starts with a “W” cribs it.
    8. Minnesota – Simple and the “M” is pretty distinct.
    9. Purdue – The forward P looks a little dopey because it slants in opposite directions on either side of the helmet but the colors are pretty cool and I like the center stripe.
    10. Michigan State – That maxi-pad in the front that tapers into a tampon string in the back is…uh…original. The side logo is okay for now until they change it again in a year.
    11. Northwestern – Unintimidating. Don’t mind the “N.” I guess they had to come up with something.
    12. Indiana – Ostentatious in every wrong way. Looks like a high school hlemet.

    1. Francis says:

      I’ll assume that your typed phrase/non sequitur in #1 of “which because pretty standard lether (sic) helmet fare” was not a typo but rather an effrot to communicate in a manner that even a Spartan would understand.

  40. kcmo66 says:

    OK – a true assessment…
    1. Michigan – My fingers burn as I type this!
    2. Purdue – Good Colors – Cool “P”
    3. Iowa – Even though it looks like Fred Flintstone when you turn it sideways.
    4. Penn State – Classic 8th Grade uniforms – but that’s why its cool.
    5. T OSU – Again – my fingers burn.
    6. Northwestern – I put them here in case I have to borrow money from one of them.
    7. Wisconsin – Motion W says they will grind you into pulp.
    8. Minnesota – Way to go Goofers.
    9. Indiana – Ho hum.
    10. Illinois – More Ho hum.
    11. Michigan State – Go back to the “S”….

  41. kcmo66 says:

    FYI – Nebraska doesn’t get to play yet. Good Helmet though….

    1. SDBadger Fan says:

      Seriously – Wisconsin dead last. Get Real! That’s like saying the Chicago “C” in better than the Green Bay “G”! The “W” rocks…take a look at the Kohl Center floor! Let me back up a minute, the Kohl Center, one the most difficult places for ant team to play collge bb. Just ask Duke, Michigan State…etc. Does Nebraska compete on the D1 level in hoops – just courious? ON WISCONSIN!

  42. tooluser says:

    #1 Michigan.
    #2-4 Some other guys
    #5 Nebraska (sorry cornhuskers, excellent tradition, quality program, but it’s still just an N)
    #6-11 All the rest.
    #12 Michigan State. As if the traditional in-state-inferiority complex wasn’t bad enough, Sparty attempts to reinvent itself every few years; unfortunately, it amounts to little more than cultural bandwagoning. I swear, if there was some way for MSU to put Gerard Butler’s sweaty abs on the side of a helmet they would have done it already.