1960s Big Green
(Authentic Reproduction)

College Football Hall Of Fame coach Bob Blackman was used to overcoming and changing. Leaving DeSoto, Iowa for what must been the geographical extreme of the University Of Southern California, the young end became captain of the Trojan Freshmen football team. His career however, was halted when he contracted polio, a life threatening disease, often fatal and crippling, during the 1930’s when young Blackman was stricken and one not controlled until the advent of effective vaccines in the mid-1950’s. He remained part of the football program, serving as an assistant coach until his graduation, and he then went on to coach at the San Diego Naval Academy and Pasadena City College as an assistant. He moved to Denver University as their head coach in 1953 and after two successful seasons, became the head coach at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. After five losing seasons, the Big Green was ready for the change but no one could have predicted Bob “The Bullet’s” success. Seven Ivy League Championships, two Lambert Trophies (as the Best Team In The East), and only two losing seasons in sixteen years paved the way for Blackman’s entry to the Hall Of Fame. To many in the Dartmouth family, he remains as well remembered as alumni such as the former Vice President and New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

He had helped to turn poor programs around at every stop and with talent obvious enough to have the great Paul Brown recommend him for the Dartmouth job and then send his son Mike, the current owner of the Cincinnati Bengals off to play for him, perhaps his success should have been expected. Credited with developing the tackle eligible play, cross field lateral passes, the V-Formation, and a try at using thick soled rubber shoes for running backs to launch themselves over opposing lines, his creative mind never ceased to work and surprise his professional colleagues.

Certainly his 1965 helmet design, one that became immediately associated with Dartmouth and remains so to this day, was one of those fertile and creative ideas. The design used by Blackman was a departure from what was usually seen. When he came to the Dartmouth campus, he rapidly phased out the leather helmets that were used previously and introduced the Riddell white plastic shell with two forest green flanking stripes. Through the 1964 season, this design, with player identification numerals on both sides, was the Big Green standard. In ’65, Blackman’s squad took the field in a white shell with parallel green striping, two forest green stripes per side and the block letter “D” on the front. As noted in HELMET HUT’s Ask Dr. Del Rye column of October 2010 [ see http://www.helmethut.com/DrDelrye/103110.html ] this great design became “as much of a trademark as Michigan’s famed ‘winged helmet’.”

The very distinctive helmet, coupled with Blackman’s impressive 104-37-3 record at Dartmouth, put this design in the Ivy League forefront and he carried it with him, altering the Illinois and Cornell helmets on his subsequent coaching stops at those programs. The authentic reproduction of the late 1960’s Riddell TK 2 helmet, flaunts the beautiful Dartmouth striping and block D, a source of pride for all who in any way, have or feel a connection to The Big Green.