Dear Dr. Del Rye,
Like most of us down here I am a big LSU Tiger fan and I like the history of the program. Looking at your LSU display of helmets [ see HELMET HUT http://www.helmethut.com/College/LSU/LSUindex.html ] its obvious that they are all fine looking pieces. Many places in our part of Louisiana put up photos of LSU greats and the college photos of local players who made good there and it seems that all of those guys from the 1960 teams have the same helmet style or type. Once these helmets came in, did LSU always wear the same brand or style? Thanks for answering and thanks for the very nice helmet displays on all of the colleges.
Brandon, Amite, Louisiana
The HELMET HUT staff works hard to “get things right” and then manufacture accurate reproductions of all of our collegiate series of helmets. The LSU grouping was a favorite of our staff because of the beautiful color combination and of course, the wonderful history. Mentioning well-known names such as Y.A. Tittle, Billy Cannon, Johnny Robinson, and Charles Alexander as well as less famous stars like Warren Rabb, George Bevan, Warren Capone, and George Rice [ see HELMET HUT http://helmethut.com/Oilers/Rice.html ] truly captures the spirit of college football. LSU, like most universities, would use primarily one specific brand of helmet in any particular season. The choice may have been made by the head coach, equipment manager, athletic trainer, or the athletic director. There are examples of each specific individual making this decision through the years, at different universities. Most often it was a collective effort among the head coach, equipment manager, and trainer. At times it may have been desirable to use the services of a specific salesperson or company. The end result was that one company’s helmet would provide the majority if not all of the helmets for the squad. Some individuals however may have needed to wear a different helmet, one with modifications or “fit” components that allowed for the protection of an injury for example. Some players may have preferred a particular brand or style having had success with it in high school or earlier in their college career and thus they continued to wear their preferred headgear, even if the team had changed to something else. For a number of years, Ohio State wore an externally padded MacGregor helmet and then a Rawlings model. In 1968 head coach Woody Hayes overhauled the helmet supply and switched primarily to the Rawlings Headliner while some of the players wore Riddell or other suspension helmets, also changing to the now familiar silver shell [ see HELMET HUT Ohio State display http://www.helmethut.com/College/Ohio%20State/OHXOSU68XXA.html ]. Some of the players however, were hesitant to make the changeover to the helmets lacking the external padding, instead wearing their externally padded models that had been painted to match the new silver Riddell helmets, or new Rawlings models.
The distinctive Ohio State externally padded helmets against Michigan
All American fullback Jim Otis wearing “holdover” externally padded helmet in 1968
At LSU, the Riddell suspension helmet became their norm, as early as 1947 with the introduction of the Riddell RT model. Though the Tigers changed to the updated versions of the Riddell suspension helmets as the company moved from the RT to the RK and TK offerings, there were at times some players that required a different type of helmet. Lake Charles sophomore star Danny LeBlanc played exceptionally well in the 1962 backfield but at least for part of the season, wore a MacGregor or Rawlings externally padded helmet. The difference when compared to the photo of halfback Jerry Stovall of the same ’62 team is obvious. This again brings attention to the fact that a singular company may have supplied almost all of the helmets for any particular program, but exceptions to the rule were also always necessary. Your question is greatly appreciated.
Dr. Del Rye
Tigers great Jerry Stovall charging through TCU in a Riddell suspension helmet
Danny LeBlanc on the run in an externally padded helmet, 1962
Dear Dr. Del Rye:
I have what I think is an odd question. I like to make up my own helmets, buying older used shells from a local sporting goods store and them buying a particular team’s decals. My helmets are not meant to be accurate in that the design on it is the same kind of helmet used for a particular year like yours are but I do this for myself. I have found that I have a lot of trouble putting some of the round decals onto the helmets because they don’t lay flat. Is this common and is there a way to do this more easily? I am sometimes frustrated when I ruin a decal because of this. I thank you for your time.
Dear Mr. Potner,
Welcome to the wonderful world of physics. You don’t have to be an amateur or professional equipment manager to have difficulty putting some of the decals onto a helmet. Specifically, placing a flat circular decal onto a curved or ball like surface can be problematic. Please note this photo of a Washington Redskins helmet from 1971. The so-called "Lombardi style" Redskins helmet used in 1970 and 1971 is very popular among some collectors and was a favorite of many ‘Skins fans. Note the wrinkled edges of the applied decal and it is obvious that the equipment managers, all experienced and excellent at their profession, also had difficulty placing this flat decal onto the rounded surface of the helmet. All materials including decals have a memory. Everything wants to return to its original form, this why the decal, even though securely affixed, wants to pull back off the shell. Even today's Redskins emblems will pop in places.
One of the methods that has proven efficient in applying some of the rounded or oddly shaped decals to the helmet surface is as follows:
-Soak the decal in a bowl filled with warm water and dishwashing detergent.
-Remove the decal from the water, slide it off of its backing onto the helmet surface.
-Place the decal properly and use a clean, dry cotton cloth to gently press all of the water and soap residue from between the helmet surface and back of the decal.
The soap and water will allow the decal to “slide” a bit and be placed as you wish, without immediately sticking or adhering to the surface. The adhesive will not be affected by this process and there will be no need to try to peel off a decal that is not quite perfectly in place. Any wrinkled edge can be patted down while the decal is still warm and wet with the soapy water. If trying to apply a decal without water and noting above that a decal is flat, change the contour of the logo by tugging at 9 and 3 o'clock. This will make the logo more concave or causing a cupping action. Pulling too much can cause the nose of your mascot to increase in length. These methods are not foolproof nor is any other but it may help the home hobbyist to more accurately and easily apply helmet decals.
Dr. Del Rye
Dear Dr. DelRye,
I have an elderly uncle who played football for Auburn in the early 1950’s and he was part of their great tradition that came just before their undefeated teams. I have spent a lot of time talking with him in the past few months and he mentioned that he wore a helmet made by Lowes. I have never heard of this brand and I did not know if he had an off brand helmet or if this was standard issue for Auburn. I like the features you have very much, and thank you for answering this question.
Thank you for taking the time contact HELMET HUT. Most of our readers know that in the early part of the Twentieth Century, there were numerous sporting goods manufacturers that were in business in the United States. Many could trace their beginnings to the leather industry, using by-products from the processing of either food or hides to then produce leather goods. The Thomas E. Wilson Company began this way as an offshoot of the Chicago based Ashland Manufacturing Company in the early part of the 1900’s. As Wilson grew and acquired smaller similar companies, it increased the variety of items offered. In 1931 among other acquisitions, Wilson purchased the Lowe & Campbell Company and that year renamed itself the Wilson Sporting Goods Company. Lowe & Campbell had been a well respected provider of leather sporting goods including baseball gloves and football helmets having begun manufacturing in the early part of the century. Infrequently, a leather helmet known by some as “The Executioner’s Helmet,” a model that features a protective leather face mask that resembles those worn by executioners in by-gone days, becomes available for collectors. Lowe & Campbell was one of the company’s that made these.