The Great Pac-12 Helmet Ranking Debate

Two of our senior writers have fun debating their rankings of the top football headgear

Editor’s Note: Subjective rankings are sure to draw criticism. Rarely does a sportswriter get to take it and dish it out in a single sitting, but that’s what our Nick Bartlett and Jack Follman do here. Let’s listen in as the two debate their respective helmet rankings and have some fun along the way.  

Posted on October 22, 2020

By Nick Bartlett and Jack Follman, SportsPac12

Jack's Helmet List
1. Colorado
2. Washington State
3. Washington
5. Cal
6. USC
7. Utah
8. Stanford
9. Arizona
10. Oregon
11. Arizona State
12. Oregon State




Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire

Nick: Well, so much for us agreeing…Why in the world do you have Arizona’s helmets number nine? They’re absolutely amazing. Plus, they’re almost the colors of the American flag.

Jack: I think you’re selling me a bit on the aesthetically-pleasing aspects of Arizona’s helmets. They are damn clean but there’s just not much to them to me, and they aren’t distinctive and their lack of prestige as a program and they’re very common. The blue, red, and white color scheme might be what doesn’t do it for me.

Utah, Stanford, and Arizona was my too forgettable, standard helmet pack as rare Pac-12 helmets that don’t stand out that much in my head.

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images via

Nick: When I initially looked at Utah’s helmets they looked nice. When I took a second glance, they lost their appeal. Agree or disagree?

Jack: I think we had similar thoughts when we discussed Utah’s jerseys. They just don’t jump out at me, and though I do think the red and white pops, they just seem a bit “modern” for me, and like a team made up for a football movie in the 1990s or 2000s, where they couldn’t license real teams.

Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire

Nick: Why does Colorado’s headgear top your list?

Jack: You got me (in the next question) in that I love gold helmets (with silver second), and gold-and-black while incorporating a logo that perfectly communicates your rad mascot and school letters, that’s what I’m all about.

Nick: It appears you like gold as Colorado, UW, and UCLA make up three of your top four selections. How did WSU’s helmets sneak their way into the Number Two spot?

Jack: WSU has maybe the best logo in college football and I love the simplicity of it on their helmets, especially when the weird flat gray they have now used to be silver. They need to go back to that, full-time.

Nick's Helmet List
Nick’s List

1. Arizona
2. Cal
3. Stanford
4. WSU
5. ASU
6. Oregon
7. Utah
8. Colorado
9. USC
10. UW
11. Oregon State
12. UCLA





Jack: I get Arizona’s super clean helmets have their appeal, but doesn’t the fact they have the lowest prestige in the conference factor in at all?

Nick: It comes down to the separation of church and state, and in this instance, their lack of anything resembling a football program doesn’t play into my selection. Even through their struggles on the field, their helmets have continued to shine.

Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group

Jack: Cal and UCLA seem pretty similar to me, why do you rank Cal’s so high and UCLA’s so low?

Nick: While you may love gold on helmets, I absolutely despise it. UCLA’s helmets with the light blue lettering are by far my least favorite in the conference, the ones with the dark blue are noticeably better.

In regards to Cal, I like the intimidation factor of the dark blue and the yellow lettering pops creating a balanced color scheme. I’m not sure how they’re similar to you…Gold and dark blue and different colors.

Troy Babbitt/USA TODAY Sports

Jack: Again, we’re back to the concept of which Oregon helmet are we ranking since they have so many? Is your assessment all of their options or the base green helmet with the yellow O?

Nick: This is always the dilemma when discussing Oregon’s on-field attire, and in this instance I went with the base green helmet with the yellow O. I really like the simplicity of the yellow and green combination. I also may be biased because these were my high school colors.

John McGillen/

Jack: You had USC’s uniforms overall, with helmets factored in, at the top but they’re near the bottom of the Pac here, why so?

Nick: Ready for a metaphor? This is comparable to Eastern vs. Western medicine. Eastern medicine looks at the body as a whole and understands that the entire system works together. USC’s uniform is like the human body in that it works well together. Western medicine looks at individual body parts, or in this instance the helmet.

I guess I could have also just said that I don’t like the red color of the helmets.

Look for past and future list rankings on the Great Pac-12 Debates page.

—More from Jack Follman—