Listing the top 25 college football helmets is an inherently subjective task since there is no clear methodology for quantifying what makes a "good" design.
However, there are several measures of quality that we can judge these helmets on, such as overall design, iconic status, branding, originality, and clever usage of school symbols. Some helmets are intrinsically linked to the program they represent, which bumps them up in the rankings due to their iconic design and symbolism.
But these helmets were not judged based on my own personal biases for or against any particular programs:
25: UAB Blazers. While the fire breathing dragons on the helmet might seem a bit ridiculous when compared to the more refined helmets on this list, there is something endearing about the brashness of UAB's helmet. It seems straight out of the AFFA from Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday," and I applaud UAB's willingness to show brazen style.
24: Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia uses a pair of orange crossed swords to underscore the "V" on its blue helmet shell and facemask combination. The reserved background color juxtaposed with bold yet subtle graphics gives these helmets a dashing sense of style.
23: Penn Quakers. The Quakers' helmet with its stylized "P" adorning a blue shell with matching blue facemask evokes traditional Ivy League collegiate style more than anything this side of a blue blazer with gold tone buttons.
22: Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State's helmets sport a very clean design styled around a deep green helmet shell. The Spartan logo, center stripe and facemask are all white, allowing the uncluttered style to really pop from the green background.
21: Texas A&M Aggies. The maroon shell with white facemask and lettering is as conservative and traditional as the school it represents. The large "T" is indicative of the pride the Aggies exhibit for their home state.
19: Oregon Ducks. Oregon's traditional green helmets with simple yellow "O" decals exude restrained style. The Ducks do change uniforms with great regularity, but the basic green helmet stands out for its minimalist design cues.
18: California Golden Bears. The Yale blue on Cal's helmet shell and facemask are a truly stunning shade -- something you would expect to find on a high-end luxury car. The nicely stylized "Cal" script in California gold gives the helmet a very distinguished feel.
16: UCLA Bruins. The school's initials are written out in script with an ornamental tail added to the end of the "A," providing a fluid way of underlining the whole acronym. It seems so simple, yet it's an understated, creative touch that gives distinction to the Bruins' helmets.
15: Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia's helmet design, much like Grambling State's, is borrowed from the Green Bay Packers, but Georgia adds emphasis to the oval "G" with a striking black and red color combination. The dog bone stickers that players earn for individual accomplishments are a nice touch that gives Georgia's helmets a bit of distinction.
14: Illinois Fighting Illini. Illinois is not only spelled out, but also capitalized and underlined over a bold shade of orange, giving the Fighting Illini a memorable helmet for its football program.
12: Boston College Eagles. From a pure design standpoint, there is nothing compelling about Boston College's helmet, but the beauty lies in its simplicity. A maroon facemask and center stripe are paired with a simple gold shell, creating an understated and refined look that is appropriate for the college it represents.
11: Colorado Buffaloes. Colorado's football helmets are among the most underrated in the college game. The way the school's initials are cut out of the buffalo silhouette is such a clean design that it seems straight out of the Apple design book.
10: LSU Tigers. LSU combines the school's name and mascot on its helmet, eliminating any confusion over who the opponent is facing. The gold shell and purple facemask drive the point home in a bold manner, which seems fitting for a program with a "Welcome to Death Valley" sign on its stadium. You can practically hear Mike roar when you look at his depiction on LSU's helmets.
8: Penn State Nittany Lions. A plain white shell with a dark royal blue center stripe and mask is an old-school style that Penn State made its own.
7: Alabama Crimson Tide. Bama's helmet says so much in such an understated manner. There are no mascots or lettering on the helmet, as the design is devoid of such gimmicks. Each player simply has his number on the sides of the helmet, and it is presumed that you know who owns the crimson shell.
6: USC Trojans. Cardinal and gold are certainly regal colors that evoke traditional royal imagery and are very fitting hues for a helmet dressed with the Trojan. There is a certain Old World feel to USC's helmets that is befitting for a school jokingly referred to as the University of Spoiled Children.
5: Miami Hurricanes. The Miami Hurricanes embrace their colloquial moniker of "The U" with a simple green and orange "U" placed on their white helmet shells. The design is basic, but it is instantly recognizable as that of the Miami Hurricanes football team.
4: Michigan Wolverines. Michigan's winged helmets are among the most famous in the game and are recognized by even the most casual fans of college football. The maize wings on the front of the blue helmet have become synonymous with the school's legendary football program.
3: Florida State Seminoles. The garnet and white spears on the sides of Florida State's gold helmets make a bold statement that few other logos can rival. The tomahawk helmet stickers awarded to players add that special bit of flair that makes the Seminoles' helmets some of the best in all of football.
2: Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The University of Notre Dame is home to the Golden Dome, so it seems only fitting that its helmets are solid gold in tone and actually use 23.9-karat gold flake in the paint. Every member of the Fighting Irish squad represents the school with pride when they don these iconic lids.
1: Texas Longhorns. The white helmet shell and white facemask provide an uncluttered backdrop for the burnt orange Longhorn logo adorning the sides of the University of Texas' football helmets. There are no stripes or any other design flair to distract from the iconic logo that practically screams, "We are Texas."
The author is a fan of the LSU Tigers and had to put aside some very strong personal feelings when composing this piece, but he feels that his objectivity is clearly shown by some of the programs that made the list.
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