As we near the start of the 2019-2020 football season, lets take a look at a snapshot of the history of Indiana Football’s uniform starting with the helmets.
The Big Ten is a conference full of tradition and often simple, minimalist jersey designs. Take a look at Penn State, when they changed the color of their face masks in the 80’s from grey to navy blue, the fans instantly noted this change and many did not agree. Indiana uniforms are an outlier in the Big Ten when it comes to making drastic changes to their attire and having flashy, chrome helmets which is quite counter-culture to the rest of the conference. After all these changes, they have piled up a number of different designs, colors, and themes over their history. Some of these ideas have stood the test of time while others have fallen out the wayside and look dated compared to helmet styles today.
Below, we rank the Top 10 (+1) helmet designs Indiana has used throughout its program. There are multiple ways to rank these such as by how they looked for their era, their history, and how well the program did during this era. There is no way to include each permutation of colors for each of Indiana’s helmets. We will do our best to rank all major designs that the Hoosiers have used especially designs that have been recurring. We will focus on their overall aesthetic and how well each would fit with the current Indiana theme, color and design.
(Bonus) No 11. The Black Oval Logo
Just about no one likes this helmet. There is nothing redeeming about it. Black? Having these helmets on the same field as Purdue is way too much black on the field at a time. It’s no wonder that the Hoosiers dropped this helmet and fans unanimously seem to hate it. Okay, Antwaan Randel El happened to play for the Hoosiers when they used this helmet. That is the most positive thing about this helmet and most of the images you find of it today are of him wearing it.
No. 10 The Flying IU Logo
The “Flying IU” logo was used only during the 1983 campaign with Sam Wyche’s first and only year as head coach. This more “modern” look to the IU trident obviously did not stick and proved you shouldn’t try to modify an already perfect logo. Of note, the Hoosiers also had cream jerseys this year which was a very short lived idea as well.
No. 9 The Original Block I Logo
In the late 1960’s-80’s, Indiana predominantly used the “Block I” design with various combinations of stripes down the midline of the helmet along with a helmet donning a lighter, less crimson hue than later Indiana attire. This helmet has probably some of the most impactful history to the program, but the colors being too similar to the Illini puts the helmet lower on the list than it would be otherwise.
No. 8 Modern Player Number Helmet
A touch of modern with an old school heart. This helmet is clean and well-put together, but gets overshadowed by the other more exciting, eye-catching helmets the Hoosiers use currently. No one strongly dislikes these helmets, and these look especially good in the white predominant color like above.
No. 7 Monochromatic/Middle Stripe
The Hoosiers used these very simple helmets between 1949-1955. Above is not the oldest helmet used by the Hoosiers, but all early helmets used these simple colors with/without player numbers on the helmet. The helmet does not stand up much to the test of time for the Hoosiers. It was similar to Penn State helmets in design and a lot of other teams’ helmets during this era. What also puts it this low on the list is that there are so many other great designs to Indiana helmets.
No. 6 Indiana State Flag
There is nothing like showing Hoosier pride than putting the state flag on the side of the helmet. It is a great design, not as busy as Maryland’s state flag helmet and well put together. Both this and the inverse white predominant versions look great on the Hoosiers. It is a bit difficult to see some of the details when far away from the field though unlike more simpler designs.
No. 5 Modern Block I Logo
One of the tried and true Hoosier designs with a more modern twist. Adidas and Indiana perfected this design that was used back in the 70’s and it has much more uniqueness than prior versions. A nice touch is the subtle addition of the state flag logo on the left back side of the helmet as shown here.
No. 4 The Original IU Trident
The sole time that the Hoosiers used a front/back facing trident logo with a side facing number. Front/back facing logos have fallen out of style and the Hoosiers used these logos for a short three years between 1959-1961. However, this was the first time the Hoosiers used the school logo on their helmet and this easily bumps the helmet higher on the list. Really neat and interesting touch of Hoosier history that would be an interesting idea for a modern remake.
No. 3 Chrome Candy Stripes
When Indiana had its modern update to its helmets, this was the helmet that stole the show. Many viewed it way out there and too flashy for a school like Indiana. Yet, it was the only helmet that donned the candy stripes so it stayed true to a long-standing Indiana tradition. Fans and critics have all seemed to grow more fond of the chrome as other teams have started to incorporate chrome and excitement to their helmets. The chrome is here to stay and will be a staple for Indiana helmets for years to come.
No. 2 Indiana Script Helmet
Another new addition to the helmet lineup, the Indiana Script helmet is a well-known design that was seen frequently on nearly everything Hoosiers besides helmets. This design has the potential for a lot of different modifications and ways to make it unique (as shown below).
Honorable Mention: “Indiana Stars, Stripes and Candy Stripes”
It’s tough to rank these two one-time use logos as they are unique color designs, but can potentially stand on their own accord. “Stars and Stripes and Candy Stripes” as fans have coined it. Indiana continued its trend on making flashy helmets and uniforms by participating with many college football teams to honor Veteran’s Day. A side note – it was good to see the candy stripe aspect for the uniform, and the helmet was a very well done combination of patriotic and classy.
Honorable Mention: Breast Cancer Awareness Logo
The other noteworthy recent unique helmet on the list. In 2013, Indiana wore their standard trident helmet with a pink painted trident. What made this day special was it marked the only time Indiana beat Penn State. Yes, the only time. The record is now 21-1 in favor of Penn State, but these helmets will always be able to commemorate the first time.
No. 1 Modern IU Trident Helmet
Anyone surprised? The trident is one of the more simple and easily recognizable designs in all of college sports. The trident has been warped and placed on different parts of the helmet, but the Hoosiers now have it right and it is not going away anytime soon. A staple for years to come.
Let us know in the comments below what your thoughts are and how you would rank differently!
Photo: Indiana Hoosiers Athletics