Evolution of the BYU Football Helmet

Since 1942, and the advent of the hard-shelled football helmet, BYU has gone through at least eight major helmet styles. Pictured to the right are renditions of the various helmets along with a description of the changes and years each were used. It’s difficult to determine if color was used in the early leather helmets (1922-46) because there are no color photos or actual helmets from that era. Most leather helmets were usually tan or brown with some white trim.  BYU has used a wide variety of colors in its helmets since 1947. The blue used in early helmets was typically dark blue but changed to royal in the early 1970s and stayed that way throughout the LaVell Edwards era. In 1999, the University chose to return to using the darker blue color. The facemask was first introduced in the mid-1950s and was typically one or two bars until the late 1960s when a variety of facemasks were introduced. Over the years the facemask color has also changed, with gray, white and various shades of blue being the standard.
 
1922-41, 1946: For more than two decades BYU, like the rest of the football world wore a leather helmet. The colors were usually tan or brown, with white introduced from time-to-time. In 1942, the Cougars wore a hard-shelled helmet for one season before World War II halted college football from 1943-45. 
 
1947-54: For eight seasons the Cougars wore a solid white helmet with a single dark blue stripe down the center. The helmet replaced the traditional leather helmet that had been used almost exclusively from 1922 to 1946. The helmet featured an internal web suspension that could be raised or lowered to fit the player’s head. The single-bar facemask was also first introduced to the football helmet during this time period.
 
1955-1961: The white helmet was replaced with a solid silver helmet with no logos or stripes. Occasionally numbers were placed on the sides of the helmet. 
 
1961-1963: After six years with a plain silver helmet, BYU added a new white helmet with a large blue stripe down the middle for the 1961 season. The stripe was actually a quarter-inch piece of rubber attached to the top of the helmet and painted blue. Coaches believed it would cushion the impact of blows to the head. During the 1961 season the Cougars used both the gray and white helmet for different games. 
 
1964-65: The white helmet was replaced in 1964 with a dark blue helmet with white numbers. In 1965, the player numbers were removed in favor of a plain blue helmet and for the first time in school history BYU won a conference title.
 
1966-68: A blue block “Y” in the middle of a white oval was added to the solid blue helmet for the first time in school history in 1966. It would become the genesis of the legendary helmet used during the majority of the Edwards era. It was also the first time a logo other than a uniform number appeared on a BYU helmet. 
 
1969-77: In 1969 colors on the helmet were inversed from blue to white. It was the first white helmet since the 1963 season. For the next three decades, BYU fans would grow accustomed to the white helmet with the traditional blue logo.
 
1978: For a single season, BYU experimented with a new design in which the blue oval was eliminated and the Y was changed to blue. After losing four games during the 1978 regular season, the blue oval with the white Y returned to the helmet for the Holiday Bowl versus Navy. It would become the signature logo for BYU football and eventually BYU Athletics. Coaches also began rewarding players for outstanding performances with helmet stickers.
 
1978-97: The white helmet with a royal blue oval and two stripes became the legendary helmet used by Coach Edwards during the majority of his hall of fame career. This helmet featured the unique white Y that would later become one of the most recognized football emblems in college football.
 
1998: Two black stripes, separated by a single blue stripe, were added to the crown of the helmet, replacing the two blue and single while stripes. The blue oval was also trimmed in black to match the stripes.
 
1999-2004: BYU unveiled a new helmet logo, colors and uniform in August 1999. A darker shade of blue and white became the colors for the University as well as the athletic program. Tan was also introduced as an accent color. It was the first time the Cougars had worn a helmet other than white since 1968. The new helmet logo, similar to the traditional decal, was the first new design used on a BYU helmet since the Holiday Bowl in 1978. The new uniforms included the infamous “bib” front panel that lasted just one year before being banned by the NCAA. The new-look uniform and helmet represented the first major uniform change in the Edwards era.
 
2005-current: In April 2005 new head football coach Bronco Mendenhall brought back the legendary helmet and uniform worn during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The white helmet featured the traditional white Y inside a blue oval, with two blue stripes down the crown. The only difference was the darker shade of blue now used by the University.