Have you seen the six new helmets Indiana University’s football program plans to break out next season?
There is one in particular you might not need to drive to Bloomington to view. Simply go outside, aim your stare to the south and the glare takes care of the rest.
On a sunny day you might be able to see it from Topeka.
I had hoped this state’s Division I programs wouldn’t attempt to be the Oregon of the Midwest when it came to protective head wear. After all, taking the field and actually playing like the Ducks serves as a far better goal.
Of course, Notre Dame took a pin to my balloon in October. The Irish broke out ridiculously shiny helmets with a big green clover on one side in a 41-3 stomping of once-mighty Miami (Fla.).
Now the Hoosiers have raised the bar. Or lowered it.
Two of the helmets feature the traditional interlocking “IU” on the sides. Not much of a departure here, though the striping is funkier. Then the Hoosiers become ‘Bama-esque with one cream helmet with the player’s numbers on the side in crimson and a crimson helmet with cream-colored numbers.
The one — the only one — I absolutely love is the crimson helmet with a cream emblem from the Indiana state flag. We’re talking the torch. We’re talking 19 stars. The whole thing.
I’m actually surprised it took this long for a local D-I to get caught up in the state flag craze. After all, we do have one of the cooler designs out there (Don’t go there Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota and Michigan. I mean, ugh!).
The sixth and final helmet is incredibly bizarre, though the shiny chrome lid with crimson and silver striping proved to be a major hit with the young men who’ll wear it.
Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but IU football hints at desperation with this game of musical helmets.
Their play on the field clearly isn’t putting fans in the Memorial Stadium stands or generating any sort of campus buzz. Let’s go the helmet route and see which fish can be reeled in.
Maybe the new helmets wind up providing IU with a granule of street credibility with prospective recruits. Every football player wants to look good even if stuck on a bad team (Example A: Maryland), so it could have a positive impact.
Looking ahead to the 2013 season, Oregon with its array of feathers, “O’s” and backdrops should again offer up more looks than any other program. Maryland, for better or worse, is the eastern version, having used six different helmets since the start of the 2011 season.
The Big Ten Conference got in the act in 2012, with Iowa implementing a total of five different helmet designs and Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois two apiece.
Will it ever end? And if so, when?
There was a time not long ago when getting new decals on helmets was a big deal. Some programs, most notably Ohio State, USC and Texas, have gone generations resisting such temptation.
Oh, there’s the occasional one-game tweaking, but nothing too outlandish.
I firmly believe the majority of IU football fans would prefer six victories over six different helmets styles in 2013.
Winning puts people in the stands. Just maybe these Hoosiers can add substance to their style and surprise us all.
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.