When Minnesota announced yesterday that in honor of Goldy Gopher’s birthday (who even knew Goldy had a birthday? Giant foam rodents—they’re just like us!) the football team would be wearing cartoon festooned lids on Saturday, Twitter predictably caught the fever:
OTE opinion is, so far, split. Some like them, and find the use of a gopher tail as a stripe a pleasing creative flourish. The rest of us think them evocative of a small child’s bicycle helmet.
Naturally, this important controversy got us thinking: what if, like those first alternate uniforms sported by Oregon eons ago that made different uniforms every week the norm in college football, this bold pro-rodent representation by Minnesota spawns a mania for mascot-inspired headgear? What might this look like for our favorite Big Ten teams?
Turns out, it would be as disastrous as you think.
To everyone’s (not so) great surprise, Maryland has already gone there. In a way, this one actually makes sense—a turtle’s shell is a hard protective layer that protects the squishy animal underneath. This is precisely the dictionary definition of a helmet! It was perhaps inevitable, then, that the “shelmet” was born:
Alas, this is where things stop making sense for the Big Ten. The animal-based mascots aren’t so bizarre, and though none incorporated a tail stripe like Minnesota, Iowa did manage to add a little something special to their “Hawkeye.”
Northwestern’s theme for the season is apparently “mailing it in,” as their version is decidedly uninspiring:
Though not for everyone, I suspect Rutgers’ helmets will have some fans, unlike their football team:
Those who lacked a cuddly mascot had to get a little more creative, instead choosing points of state pride, or weirdly, foes they have yet to vanquish. Ohio State, rather than taking the expected Brutus route, which would have worked well given the fact that he already features a round head, instead chose to celebrate Ohio’s favorite haircut in a heartwarming salute to their fanbase:
Indiana, no stranger to creative helmeting as the pioneers of chrome dome-stripes, chose an interesting message. Instead of wearing the monkey on their backs, they have instead chosen to wear their monkey on their heads, no doubt a psychological trick designed to somehow get them that elusive Big Win:
To no one’s great surprise, Illinois didn’t really understand the assignment. But improbably, this resulted in the greatest Illinois-related moment of all time:
But for most of those with humanoid mascots, the helmets begin to get predictably creepier:
Michigan State, to their credit, added a fun bit of trophy game pizzazz to what would otherwise just be a picture of an angry man on the side of a helmet:
Still, we can’t help wishing others would have stuck with whimsy instead of... not whimsy.
As for Nebraska... well, only one good thing can be said about these, and that is that they didn’t incorporate Lil’ Red. Still...these were a no good, very bad idea.
Speaking of WTF’ery, here’s Purdue:
In my opinion, only one Big Ten school really nailed it. A masterpiece of realism, as well as an homage to the festive nature of a sporting event, Wisconsin’s Bucky Badger helmet is all that a mascot helmet could hope to be:
Which helmet would you most like to see on a B1G sideline?
This poll is closed
"Pride of Iowa" Tattoo Helmet
Willie the Wildcat
Rutgers Leaning Into It
The Mulleted Buckeye
Indiana Tries to Psych Out the Hump
Illinois’ Badass Lincoln Helmet
Michigan’s Harbaugh Frenzy
Nebraska’s Larry the Cable Guy Try
Purdue’s Soul Stealing Helmets
None of these! What hast thou wrought, Minnesota?