Thursday, October 11, 2012

Football helmet branding--more of the same?

Here in the heartland, much has been made of Missouri's move to the SEC and the accompanying radical shift in football uniform designs sported by the Tigers.  Perhaps the most controversial, or opined upon, move was the retirement of the block "M" from the helmet in favor of the school's relatively new Tiger logo.  And, on one helmet version, the Tiger logo takes on a much more visible role against a matte black finish.

MU's move is one that sets it apart in the vast sameness of helmet branding in college football.  A quick audit of all major college football teams shows that Missouri is one of but a few who opt for something on the helmet other than the initial, or initials, of the school.

Among their brethren in the SEC, only MU and Arkansas use something other than the school initials or nickname, excepting Alabama's consistent use of the player's number on his helmet.  And, across all of college football, only the following do something different:

Kansas State - Powercat logo
TCU - "TCU" with horned frog
Texas - Longhorn logo
Florida State - Seminole spear
Clemson - Cat paw
Virginia - "V" with crossed swords
Iowa - Hawkeye
Michigan - Iconic stripes
Michigan State - Spartan head
Washington State - "WSU" with cougar
Arizona State - Spear
Colorado - Buffalo with "CU"
USC - Trojan head

Of course, there are the few who go ultra-radical (Maryland or Oregon with its "O" on a helmet color/finish which isn't even in the school's color scheme) or ultra-conservative (Penn State with plain white helmets coupled with thin blue stripe.)  But, out of 58 major schools audited, only the above 13 use a week-to-week approach that does not rely solely on school initials and/or nickname.

For all of the commentary of late about radical uniform designs at schools like Oregon, Missouri, Boise State, Maryland, and others, the general rule of thumb in college football is to stay the same.  I, for one, think that schools need to push it a bit in the uniform department and, in particular, those schools who are not traditional football powers.  Oregon's recent success surely isn't due to just the unis--I mean, there have to be good players filling out those duds--but it has helped establish a brand for the football program which, once again, is in the top five and in national championship contention.

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