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Multiple Helmets (College) vs. One Helmet (NFL)


OnWis97

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Wading through the NCAA football thread, I started wondering about the benefit of, say, Indiana outfitting their team with six different helmets. Alternate jerseys, batting practice caps, and other "extra stuff" makes sense because they sell. I don't think too many people are going to go into the IU bookstore and buy six different Riddell minis. So obviously there is something else motivating.

The NFL, on the other hand, only allows one helmet (save for throwbacks). To me this makes total sense. In the NFL, the helmet is a very defining mark of a team's image, maybe even more than the primary logo...hell it even has a history of serving as the primary for some teams. So why would the Bengals make a chrome alt with the "B"? Things like this would serve to water down team identities.

So why so many in college? I think it's probably a combination of some of these reasons:

  • Symbolism. The helmet is much less of a defining emblem to begin with. A few helmets (i.e., Michigan) are iconic, but for the most part, University symbolism is bigger than the football team and you don't find the helmet "around" (e.g., on t-shirts, TV studio shows, etc.) as often in college. Since the helmet is not nearly the big marketing tool that it is for NFL teams, they have nothing to lose.
  • Recruiting. Sure no kid is going to say "I can wear six different helmets at Indiana; one with chrome. Forget Ohio State." But like all advertising, it draws people in. Given how the NFL forms its teams, there would be virtually no value in this; maybe a free agent per decade would factor uniforms in over the money or the chance to win. But options are limited in the NFL...colleges compete for recruits against so many schools that they may just be looking at ways to stand out.
  • It's all about the shoes. Colleges are just willing to say "ok shoe company, we'll take a little more money from you and let you design our uniforms as a billboard for you."
  • The heavy hand of the NFL. Of course, the NFL uniforms are also designed by a shoe company, but the NFL regulates to keep this stuff from happening. The colleges do not have such oversight and it becomes the tragedy of the commons; a race to the bottom, if you will.

I prefer college football, but I definitely prefer the NFL's direction on uniforms. Both sell out, but it's just so obvious in college football. One-off uniforms (like that Wisconsin/Nebraska clown show) are part of this as well and could be rolled into the discussion.

I'd be curious to hear anyone else's take on this.

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variation in brand identity is a good thing. it keeps the identity from becoming stale. but it depends on who you're trying to capture with it (target audience) and the personality and values you want to express to them. that's the difference between CFB and NFL, where the younger audience really accepts those things and the NFL is built on a "long tradition of epic battles between legendary warriors" (really think about how they sell their athletes/games in advertising). each school/team has it's own brand archetype and things they want to express through their identity, but thats the overall difference between the two.

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The Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL have a home and away helmet. The Stampeders away looks terrible and the Eskimos is okay, I guess.

I prefer having one helmet for home/away/alt, I feel like it gives a more cohesive look to the uniforms. I don't really have a reason for it, it's just personal preference. The same goes for hockey teams having the same templates for home and away jerseys. (besides Montreal)

As for why they do it, I have no idea. I don't know the money aspects of having multiple helmets because like you said, people don't go buy helmets.

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I definitely recruiting is a big part of it, yeah. I can't tell you how many high school students think the Maryland Pride jerseys and helmets are so cool. And the fact of the matter is, they wouldn't be talking about Maryland football at all otherwise.

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I definitely recruiting is a big part of it, yeah. I can't tell you how many high school students think the Maryland Pride jerseys and helmets are so cool. And the fact of the matter is, they wouldn't be talking about Maryland football at all otherwise.

So when does all the uniform buzz that maryland creates start translating into wins on the field?

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I definitely recruiting is a big part of it, yeah. I can't tell you how many high school students think the Maryland Pride jerseys and helmets are so cool. And the fact of the matter is, they wouldn't be talking about Maryland football at all otherwise.

So when does all the uniform buzz that maryland creates start translating into wins on the field?

This. KEWL SLICK uniforms can only do so much. You actually have to win if you want recruits to seriously consider your program.

That's why Oregon's always a contender for the National Championship and Maryland's still just Maryland. Winning ultimately does more for you then the newest, coolest uniforms will.

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The problem with football is the amount of games. In baseball/basketball/soccer/hockey, there is a ton of games and alternates work. An alt. football helmet can work (like NC for example) if you use a white version of your Columbia blue helmet. It gets saturated with a white one, navy one, Columbia blue one, black one, chrome one, one with a NC, one with a tar heel, etc.

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I don't mind color swaps. For all Oregon's logo debauchery, they actually keep the same wordmarks/logos and just change up the colors on the lids.

That maintains the "brand" at least, opposed to teams that have random, arbitrary helmets.

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one thing i dont get, and it comes exclusively from the board here. . . . even if i didn't like a design, i wouldnt bash a school/team for trying to be cool and have something their audience/fans/players were excited about. isn't that what everyone wants? i mean, when the hell did being cool become not cool?

you're all dirty hipsters!! :P

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I think a lot of the hate for multiple lids stems from the notion that a lot of these schools should be concentrating on winning, not looking sharp.

As an IU alum, I can tell you I was a lot more excited when we went to a bowl game a few years ago than when the team unveiled their new helmets.

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one thing i dont get, and it comes exclusively from the board here. . . . even if i didn't like a design, i wouldnt bash a school/team for trying to be cool and have something their audience/fans/players were excited about. isn't that what everyone wants? i mean, when the hell did being cool become not cool?

you're all dirty hipsters!! :P

September 20, 1977

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I don't mind color swaps. For all Oregon's logo debauchery, they actually keep the same wordmarks/logos and just change up the colors on the lids.

That maintains the "brand" at least, opposed to teams that have random, arbitrary helmets.

See, what Oregon does is ok to a point, but when Indiana, who won four games last season, tries to go with the multiple helmets, they have 2 red helmets that are different only by a letter, a white helmet that is ok, another red helmet that I have no idea about whats on it, and the chrome mess. Indiana seems drunk, should they go home?

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I don't mind color swaps. For all Oregon's logo debauchery, they actually keep the same wordmarks/logos and just change up the colors on the lids.

That maintains the "brand" at least, opposed to teams that have random, arbitrary helmets.

See, what Oregon does is ok to a point, but when Indiana, who won four games last season, tries to go with the multiple helmets, they have 2 red helmets that are different only by a letter, a white helmet that is ok, another red helmet that I have no idea about whats on it, and the chrome mess. Indiana seems drunk, should they go home?

heck to the yes they should go home! Their white helmet looks like Wisconsins helmet they used vs Nebraska and the chrome looks like Oregon
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