Grading SEC Helmets, Past and Present
May 3, 2012 by Kevin Beane • Print Story •
I've written about helmets and logos before, and it's now time to return to that pool with the most dominant college football conference, the SEC.
First, all of the links I will be referring to are mostly on this page. When linking a bunch of logos/helmets in the past on such articles, I have encountered problems with link rot and borked URLs. So this time, just look on that page, and I will refer to the team/years I'm referring to.
A word about my helmet preferences. I am not a traditionalist. I don't like blank helmets or helmets with just a letter on it in an unimaginative font. But you can definitely be too gaudy, as well. I like schools that find the happy medium. I also prefer it when teams use a helmet logo that that contains just a wordless/letterless logo, as I see such schools as trying to build a brand that will eventually be so recognizable they don't even need a identifying letter/word for the world to know who they are. Onto the schools:
ALABAMA — Helmets with numbers on the side are just as boring as blank ones. However, I'm sure the spotters in the press box appreciate the extra identifying piece. And I have to give them respect in noting that there has been no cosmetic change in their helmets in 52 years.
ARKANSAS — This is what I'm talking about. You see that logo, you know who it is. You don't need an "A" to help you. They could stand to make it bigger though. And wasn't he cute when he got himself painted red, white, and blue on 09/11/2011?
AUBURN — Better than Alabama, but not great. I liked it better with the orange face-masks they wore from 1979-83. And if your name is something fierce like the "Tigers" and you're are closely associated with the name "War Eagle," shouldn't you do something like that? Like an eagle in army fatigues cocking a rifle whilst riding on top a tiger?
FLORIDA — I don't know why "our nickname, in cursive" is so popular, but there it is with Florida and until recently, Maryland and Washington State, too. And to think they used to cleverly intertwine the U and the F to make goalposts. And they got away from one of the coolest logos in sports about a decade ago.
GEORGIA — Started using this helmet logo in 1964. The Green Bay Packers started using it in 1961. So let it be known the Bulldogs ripped this off the Packers and not the other way around. Grambling uses it, too. I don't know why so many teams are so in love with it.
KENTUCKY — Oh man, those helmets you wore in 1973-74 and then trotted out again for a game in 2004. Besides the overly-detailed wildcat head (I think I even see pores and dander), it wasn't enough! Let's put an outline of the state on there, too! I honestly can't decide if I love it or hate it. As you can also see, like most bad teams looking to kickstart an identity and a "new era," every couple of years they'ved dabbled in about 50 berzillion designs, none that interesting or different from one another. My suggestion: use the current all-purpose logo, but lose the "UK."
LSU — Same problem as 1973-74 Kentucky, That tiger head is too detailed, and with it being as small as it is, makes it especially pointless. Why not use the super-cool tiger eye that graces the 50-yard line?
MISSISSIPPI — Oh man, those helmets you wore in the 1970s. This is what I mean when I say there's such a thing as too gaudy. Colonel Reb was one of the strangest mascots ever. He doesn't look like he'll kick your ass, like most mascots. But you still get the impression if you don't get him a mint julep this very second, you're gonna regret it. He's redrawing the will as we speak. And as borderline over-the-top it was to stick him on the helmet, it wasn't enough! By God, we need to put "Ole Miss" on there, too! Otherwise, they will think we are some other school with a mascot with a walking stick who can make one phone call and get the lily-livered Lieutenant Governor who's gettin' too big for his britches impeached!
MISSISSIPPI STATE — See Kentucky. "Let's experiment with about 1,000 not very interesting themes with just letters, even though we are called the "Bulldogs." Also, what is up with their 1969-71 helmet decal? Mississippi State is not on the Gulf Coast. I don't think it's big fishing school. And also it looks like you're reeling in your own team.
MISSOURI — Another school tweaking with a bunch of elements on the same theme that ... what? Starting next year, you are getting rid of the M entirely and just going with the tiger head? Bravo, Missouri. Bravo.
SOUTH CAROLINA — Well, they had it right, almost, in 1966-67 and again from 1969-74 (even if that "Scholarship - Leadership" banner was unnecessary and over the top), but then they had to add that C. Even still, they need to redesign the gamecock so it doesn't look like he's practicing judo starting moves. Of the different colors they've played with, I prefer the garnet helmets with the white circle.
TENNESSEE — This is, and has always been, so boring, that I can't even think of any interesting way to make fun of it. So please take this time to clean out the lint drawer in your dryer, and by the time you get back, I'll have moved on to the next school.
TEXAS A&M — In 1965, the A and the M were at the bottom. In 1978, they started to levitate. And expand, which it did again in 1979, 1999, and 2007. By 2018, the letters A and M will be above the T, and the whole logo will cover the whole helmet side. By 2025, the A and M will have floated off the helmet entirely and will hover above the players like weird halos (Jesus did, after all, attend A&M as an undergrad). I also think they should chuck this logo entirely and put this on their helmets (minus the title of course).
VANDERBILT — Nice. Not too plain and not gaudy, either. I'm glad they went back to the star with the V in the middle after a decade (1991-2001) of moving away from it.