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The meaning of helmet stickers in college football
Helmet stickers are a big tradition in college football. Many big programs such as Ohio State, Stanford, and Arkansas use helmet stickers. Many other schools used helmet stickers in the past. In a sport that largely focuses on team accolades, helmet stickers serve as a method of rewarding individual players. Different universities give helmet stickers for a variety of reasons. Here's a look how the tradition started and how it is used today.
For a long time, the tradition of helmet stickers was attributed to Ernie Biggs, who served as a trainer under Woody Hayes at Ohio State. Ohio State is undoubtedly the most famous university to use helmet stickers, however recent stories have cast doubt over the tradition starting there. Helmet stickers were actually used at Ohio's Miami University in 1965. A story on ESPN's College GameDay on November 27th, 2010 explained that a Miami assistant named Jim Young began the tradition. Young served as a World War II fighter pilot. He said he got the idea from planes using stickers to mark their kills. Ironically, that means the tradition started under Hayes's chief rival, Bo Schembechler, who coached Miami in the middle of the 1960's before moving on to Michigan.
What The Stickers Mean
The stickers are used to indicate team or individual accomplishments. Universities like Ohio State award the helmet stickers for accomplishments in all three phases of the game. Jim Tressel, the current coach at Ohio State, keeps a running log of how each of his players obtain their stickers. Some universities award decals for specific things like touchdowns, rushing yards, and interceptions. Others use them to recognize achievements not easily measured by statistics. Team oriented stickers are also given out. Naturally, as players reach their junior and senior years, they gain more stickers. Some universities also award helmet stickers for academic achievements, including the University of Georgia. Stickers are usually designed after an important university symbol. Ohio State uses buckeye leaves. Clemson uses paw prints. Florida State uses tomahawks.
The tradition of helmet stickers has greatly diminished over the years. Only around 20 FBS school still use them. Many schools who once used them ditched the tradition. Michigan, who used helmet stickers just as their rival did, discontinued the practice in the 1990s. Other colleges have never used them. Joe Paterno, the legendary coach at Penn State, has stated he does not believe in helmet stickers. While the number of schools using the stickers has declined, they still deserve their place in the game. They are integral to the look of programs like Ohio State, and they are a great way to recognize the achievements of unpaid athletes.
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