Ohio State football helmets over the years

There is no denying that the Ohio State football program currently has one of the most popular helmets in the game. But the current traditional version was not always what every player would prove. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the current classic look has only been around since 1979.

Prior to this, players who came out of the tunnel to play for Scarlet and Gray had some minor differences with the evolution of the helmet over the years, while at other times the changes were quite extreme and completely changed the look of the team.

And with more and more alternative jerseys and helmets making the rounds, the piece of football wardrobe known as Program Image has plenty of designs and variations.

We decided to take a look at the history of the Ohio football helmet so you can get a feel for where things started, what other designs were introduced, and where things stand today.

Here’s a quick look at the history of Ohio football helmet designs through the years.

1957 number on the side

Bill Abel (40) of Iowa skirts around the left end for the first time deep in Ohio territory during the first quarter of the Hawkeyes’ landing flight in Columbus, Ohio, on November 16, 1957. On the right is Ohio linebacker Bob White. On the left is Ohio State quarterback Frank Krimblas (22). (AP Photo)

The appearance

It’s not just Alabama that had numbers on the side of the helmets. Not every player on the 1957 squad showed this look, but there were some stamped with their numbers on the side. It’s simple and clean without the traditional that everyone is used to.

1958: Bigger numbers on the side

The Oregon quarterback would find a hole in Ohio’s defense in the second period of a Rose Bowl game and carry a 14-yard pigskin to the 31-yard Ohio State line on January 1, 1958, in Pasadena, California. Purge Willie is his teammate, end, Ron Stover. (AP Photo)

The appearance

Ohio State must have liked the number so much that it decided to make it even bigger. Again, not all guys had numbers on the side, but some showed off an almost identical look to their 1957 helmet, but bigger and better.

1960-1961: The emergence of scarlet and gray

September 30, 1961; Columbus Ohio, USA; file image; TCU quarterback Sonny Gibbs (11) and tight end Buddy Iles (88) tackle Ohio State Bucks quarterback William Jones (45) at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports.

The appearance

It’s a little hard to see in this photo, but welcome to the scarlet and gray helmet. The vanilla look is gone, and the play is a large red stripe down the middle with a gray base. We see the helmet start to build on different things as the numbers on the side still appear as well.

1962-1964: thicker red stripe

16 November 1963; Columbus, Ohio, USA; file image; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Don Unfrith (26) in a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The appearance

In 1962, apparently, someone decided they liked the look of the OSU helmet but wanted more crimson. Therefore, the helmet has undergone a minor change with a wide red stripe that expands outward at the back of the cap. Fans probably can’t even notice the difference unless it’s pointed out, but it was there, so we’re highlighting it.

1965: Red stripes and bigger numbers

September 1965 Columbus, Ohio, USA; file image; Ohio State Bucks quarterback Thomas Barrington (25) during photo day at Ohio Stadium before the 1969 season. Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The appearance

Ohio expanded with the red bar and increased the number line on the side. However, at this point, it feels like an almost year-on-year experiment to discover a helmet that really works.

1966-1967: Crimson and smaller stripe (oh, and buckyi leaves!) e

Sep 24, 1966, Columbus, Ohio, USA; file image; Ohio State’s William Long (24) under center Ohio State lined up against Ohio State’s two-horned frogs at Ohio Stadium during the 1966 season. Mandatory credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The appearance

You can start to see the costume take shape to what we’re used to, but the helmet is still in the works. Things have changed drastically from the past few years with an all-crimson helmet and a thinner gray and black stripe in the middle. And while there are no pictures here, it was 1967 that Buckeye’s first papers were inserted onto the helmet. It was truly a common to be remembered for tradition.

1968-1978 (Classic look almost set)

Ohio State quarterback Rex Kern and coach Woody Hayes consult during a game with Michigan in Columbus, Ohio, on November 23, 1968. The others are not identified. (AP Photo)

The appearance

The look of the uniform is fully formed and looks very close to today’s Ohio State uniform. The helmet has taken on the traditional silver color with red, black and white in the middle. The only real noticeable difference to the helmet’s design is the presence of a red band that is thicker than what we see today. However, this year is widely considered to be the year OSU got its traditional head-to-toe look.

1979 – Present

September 1984 Columbus, Ohio, USA: Ohio State drops (41) Keith Pearce in a game against the Washington State Cougars at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Photo by Malcolm Emmons, USA Today Sports

The appearance

Welcome to what you see today. The crimson stripe in the middle of the helmet is narrowed down to where red, white and black fit in with what we all know and love today. Sure, the silver base could have been a bit shinier, and the helmet structure might have changed a bit, but the helmet is what you see today on Saturdays that doesn’t have an alternate look.

Next… alternates

2009: Ohio embraces the alternate look

Ann Arbor, MI – NOVEMBER 21: Brian Roll #36 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on during a game against the Michigan Wolverines on November 21, 2009, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State won the game 21-10. (Photo by Gregory Schamus/Getty Images)

The appearance

Ohio State begins the alternate jersey era against Michigan in 2009 by honoring the 1954 National Championship team. They are topped off with a clean white helmet with a single red stripe down the center and simple numbers on the side. Nothing flashy, but it works with the group.

2010: Going as a substitute against Michigan again

COLOMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 27: Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrell Pryor prepares to call the play in the rally against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 27, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jimmy Sabo/Getty Images)

The appearance

This helmet was part of another nod to last year and has continued the trend of breaking Michigan’s alternate uniforms. The set was modeled after the 1942 National Title Team. The helmet was a simple red ring with a bronze star on the back (not pictured here).

2011: First substitute against a team besides Michigan

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (5) scores a touchdown against the Wisconsin Badgers in the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, October 29, 2011.

The appearance

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it must be because Ohio State built this helmet and takes care of the 1961 team. Note the bold red down the center on a gray base. While the look was stunning, the game was even better with Braxton Miller beating Devin Smith in the Hail Mary play to beat Wisconsin.

2012-2014: Tri-color ribbon is wider for some special occasions

COLUMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 1: JT Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to pass the ball in the first half of a game against the Illinois Fighting Illinois at Ohio Stadium on November 1, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The appearance

These helmets were used on certain special occasions from 2012 to 2014 and will always be remembered for 2014. Buckeye leaves are green while the three scarlet, white and black stripes in the middle are slightly wider. It’s a look that sounds like a big game to all Buckeye fans and is a great alternative look that never gets old.

2015, 2018-2019

Standing Dwayne Haskins Jr. (7) The Ohio State Buckeyes are on the sidelines during the second quarter of a college football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday, November 3, 2018, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

The appearance

This is the Ohio State fan’s favorite replacement helmet. Ohio State exploded for the first time in 2018 against Penn State, but also bounced back against Nebraska later in the season – and most recently – against Michigan State in 2019. Buckeye leaves the Reds against the Black Helmets really and many don’t mind seeing them have to show up again.

2017: Gray camo

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback GT Barrett (16) reacts to throwing a 14-yard touchdown to wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) during the second quarter of an NCAA football game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on October 28, 2017. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

The appearance

Ohio State launched a gray camouflage helmet for games against Penn State and Michigan in 2017. Both games were games to remember for the Buckeyes, and Buckeye’s red cards made the helmet stand out again. We haven’t seen these since, and it may be very unlikely that we’ll see them in the future.

2022: the emergence of roses

Saturday, January 1, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; A special pink helmet ribbon decorates Thayer Munford’s helmet before the start of the 108th Rose Bowl between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Utah Utes at the Rose Bowl. Credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

The appearance

It was a subtle look for the 2022 Rose Bowl against Utah State, but the traditional crimson stripe down the middle was embellished with rosettes emblazoned in a paint job. Sometimes the cutest is the coolest, and that’s added to Pasadena’s all-time timing game.

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