What’s that on your head?

If you’re a regular Gridiron & Grits reader, you know my loyalties lie with my beloved alma mater, the University of South Carolina. Let me make something clear: I love my Gamecocks, but I also love college football in general.

You also know that sometimes I use Gridiron & Grits to talk about sports issues that are important to women, but not so much to men. This may be one of those times, because I want to talk a bit about fashion — specifically, fashion as it pertains to football helmets.

Personally, I think my Gamecocks have an outstanding helmet: classic and snazzy white, garnet and black, bearing a fearsome gamecock surrounded by our traditional block “C” (for Carolina). I’ve always loved a man in a good helmet . . .

Worst helmet in NCAA football? It’s a hard call, but I’ve always loathed Notre Dame’s. Why? Because it’s a bright gold, bulbous thing without a logo to break up that broad expanse of tacky pseudo-metal. It makes the players resemble nothing more than bobble-heads from outer space. And, yes, painting the helmets with a fresh coat of gold before each game is a storied tradition . . . but, whoa! . . . it’s just ugly.

I know a lot of people like Michigan’s helmets but — with apologies to my dad, who received his master’s degree there — they don’t do it for me. Something about the front temple area reminds me of Mick Jagger’s upper lip. I love Mick and his lips have made thousands swoon, but somehow yellow Jagger lips are off-putting.

And, speaking of “temple areas,” let’s talk about Temple College’s helmet, which features the word “Temple” in white on red. Why does it irk me? Because a player wearing the word “Temple” on his temple is just weird — kind of like an anatomical label.

Alabama is having a great season, but their helmets are less than great. I know some people will say they’re classic and old school. But plain red with the players’ numbers? Zzzzz.

Now, let’s take a look at the helmets worn by the Eagles of Eastern Washington University. That’s right . . . a close look. If I’m not mistaken, the placement of the lettering (large E and W, small U), leads to an unintended pronunciation: “Eeeew You.”

Finally, I’m going to turn my attention to the “other” Carolina — the University of North Carolina. Fine school, fine legacy. My problem isn’t so much the helmet design; the stylized interlocking “NC” is pretty cool. But the Carolina blue helmet combined with a Carolina blue uniform is just too much, well, baby blue. It works on the basketball court but not on the football field. Maybe it has something to do with yardage (not football yardage, but fabric yardage).

What about you? Any football helmets out there that leave you cold? Which ones and why?


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