College football can move us in so many different ways. It can make us laugh, it can make us cry, it can make us hope and it can make us feel hopeless.
It can also make us fashion experts.
Find you a guy rocking a goatee with jorts, and I promise he’s got a certain look that he prefers on the football field. The same goes for the guy with the Armani suit or the woman wearing the Manolo Blahniks (I’ve been watching too much “Sex and The City”).
For me, the goatee left in roughly 2013, a few years after the last pair of jorts. I don’t own a suit, much less an Armani one, and my feet are much too meaty for Manolo Blahniks, but I have a look that I like as well.
This is how I rank the Big 12 helmets as we head into the 2023 season.
Red helmet with interlocking white letters. Sound familiar? The Coogs at least mixed it up with a few alternate looks in 2022, but they are at the bottom of the list.
Even though BYU has finally broken up the Kansas monopoly on royal blue in the Big 12, the Cougars offer a very traditional, yet very boring helmet. Even snow-capped mountains in the distance can’t give this look more pizzazz.
Anyone that knows my love for Titletown, USA (shareholder) knows my love for green and yellow, but Baylor’s helmet offers nothing special. The only thing that keeps Baylor out of the cellar is the matte look that it pulls out every now and then.
11. Iowa State
When you have one of the best nicknames in the conference, why wouldn’t you incorporate it in your helmet? How Iowa State doesn’t have a cyclone on the lid has always dumbfounded me, and in a world where every team has a black or gray alternate, ISU’s is darn near vomit-inducing.
Another one of the new boys in the conference comes in near the bottom of my list. Just like Iowa State, another really cool nickname (Knights), but aside from a few alternate looks in 2022, no knight on the helmet. Bonus points for good colors, black and gold, and bonus points for the special space helmet the past few years.
9. West Virginia
The Mountaineers have made the matte look their own, as the matte blue with “W” stacked on “V” in gold has become their standard. While a few alternate looks lately have been average at best, the standard helmet for WVU helps it land in the middle of the league, somewhere that Neal Brown would love to be in November.
I really dislike purple, and I hate when TCU brings red into the color mix, but the Horned Frogs have embraced weird with their helmet offerings. Seven different helmets were worn in 2022 by the Frogs, and I would expect a few more new intriguing alternates in 2023. Let’s get the Hypnotoad involved ASAP.
Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the Sunflower State (born in Ulysses), or maybe it’s because I ate duck fat fries from The Burger Stand by the truckload back in my college days in nearby Ottawa, but I actually kind of like the gaudy Jayhawk on the side of the helmet. It’s so goofy and so colorful and makes me smile.
6. Texas Tech
I’ve always been a fan of the black, red and white color scheme that the Red Raiders employ, and the interlocking TT on the side of the helmet is pure class. Even though colors have changed slightly and a few wrinkles have been added here and there, Tech has featured the interlocking T’s on virtually every helmet it has worn since 1963. A night game in Lubbock with that shiny black helmet just hits different.
Just like Texas Tech, the tradition of the interlocking OU goes back a long way and that holds a lot of power on my list. The Sooners could definitely mix it up a little more with some alternate looks, because the ones they’ve trotted out in the past few years have not been my favorites. The “Bring the Wood” jersey has never grown on me, and the anthracite look from last year missed the mark more than I thought was possible, but even the biggest haters of OU have to admit the classic Sooners helmet is top-tier. I generally like when a team goes head-to-toe in the same primary color, but when OU goes white jerseys on white pants with the red helmet, it’s quite a sight to behold.
4. Kansas State
K-State has always been an interesting case study for me, because my dislike of the color purple is not only canceled out but also overridden by my love for the silver in the Cats’ color scheme. Much like Tech and Oklahoma, the Wildcats are consistent. You know what helmet you’re going to get most every Saturday, and it’s just such a good look. The Wildcat logo is the perfect size on the side of the helmet, and the purple is the perfect offset to the silver exquisiteness. Throw in that wide purple-white-purple triple piping down the middle, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine lid.
3. Oklahoma State
If TCU has embraced the weird, Oklahoma State has bathed in it. The Cowboys wore 10 different looks last season and never wore a single helmet more than twice. There are some winners and some losers amongst those 10 looks, but Oklahoma State is not afraid to take some chances, and that scores big points on this list. The 1980’s OSU logo on the white helmet still remains a personal favorite, but the featuring of more Pistol Pete has been a welcome and successful addition to the helmet collection in Payne County.
The Texas helmet has been pretty much the same since 1961, and Texas has not worn a helmet that isn’t white since 1956. Not even for one game. Why change something so perfect? Texas does what Iowa State and UCF don’t do, they embrace their unique mascot, and in doing so, they also embrace their unique color scheme, by plastering that simple yet perfect longhorn logo in burnt orange across the side. Chris Del Conte, you may want to change the culture, but please leave the helmet be.
The Cincy Bearcats jump into the conference and jump right to the top of my Big 12 helmet rankings. With a black, red and white color scheme that they never break from, the Cincinnati “C” logo is beautiful in so many ways. First, it identifies the school with the letter “C.” Second, it reminds you of the team nickname, the Bearcats, with the claws above the “C.” But lastly, and most subtly, the line under the “C” makes the entire logo look like a crown, a crown befitting of the university located in the queen city of Cincinnati, Ohio.
What do you want to see me rank next? No suggestion is too silly. Reach out to me on social media @ToddOnSports or send me an email at [email protected].