Going On Record

Most of the recent conversations I have had with my Cyclone friends have been about the proposed designs for the new Cyclone helmets. The athletic department has unveiled three potential new designs. They will eventually choose one of these three designs and the Cyclones will start sporting that new helmet during the 2008 football season.

I do not think that intrinsically Hawkeyes are bad people. I have some good friends that are Hawkeyes. Some of my blood relatives are Hawkeyes. If everybody I knew was a Cyclone my world would be a boring (yet admittedly beautiful) place. It just so happens that the majority of my friends are Cyclones and the minority are Hawkeyes or Panthers or apathetic.

It is because of this wealth of Cyclones that I know, that I have had the “helmet” conversation a lot lately. It goes a little bit like this:

“Hey man. You voted for a helmet yet?”

“No. I am a conscientious objector. I am abstaining from voting.”

“Why is that?”

“I will not pick the least of three evils.”

I was not a Jamie Pollard man. Not through and through. Not even a little bit. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t like his decisions. I felt that he was trying to make a name for himself at Iowa State and then he would move on to a greener pasture. I did not agree with the firings of Wayne Morgan, Bobby Douglas, or Dan McCarney.

However, I have changed. What changed my feelings about Jamie Pollard were Hawkeye fans. Hawkeye fans are terrified of Jamie Pollard. Hawkeyes have been the top rooster in this state at least ever since Hayden Fry flew into Iowa City.

Despite Iowa State’s athletic dominance of the state during the late 90s, Hawkeyes never wanted to consider it anything more than “cute” that the school in Ames fielded athletic teams.

This is attitude did not derive from the self refreshing supply of smugness that Hawkeyes keep next to their soul. Well not entirely. Cyclones have to share much of that blame.

Even when we beat the Hawks 5 straight years in football, we always kind of felt that it was fool’s gold. We often didn’t have higher aspirations than just making it a “rivalry again”.

Jamie Pollard changed that. He brought an entirely new attitude to the Cyclone Nation. He threw down the gauntlet. He let it be known that we were no longer to be satisfied with occasionally beating the Hawks. He let it be known that we were no longer willing to just be the poor sisters to the Hawks. We were now more than willing to compete with them for athletic dominance of the state.

This scares Hawkeyes. They don’t want the Cyclone game to become a game that they might not be favored in. They want this to be a game that they can count on in getting them close to bowl eligibility. If the Cyclones jump up and beat them every now and again, it is cute, but they still are clearly #2 in the state. They can have their bone now and again.

Whether I wanted to admit it or not, Pollard’s moves have proved to be the right moves. Sanderson nearly lead Iowa State to its first national championship in wrestling since 1986. McDermott brought in one of the top recruiting classes in Cyclone history. Chizik has yet to prove himself on the field, but the buzz around the program is pretty amazing.

I applauded Pollard’s bold move of placing Cyclone billboards in Hawkeye enclaves. I found it hilarious when he refused to sell single game tickets to the Iowa – Iowa State game. I was on my feet applauding when he announced that we were getting rid of these terrible Kansas City Chief* knockoff uniforms and returning to our true school colors of cardinal and gold.

I was quite taken aback when I felt Pollard has made his first mistake. That first mistake is the new helmet options. The new helmet options are terrible. Have a look.<

I have two major complaints.

First is the fact that these logo designs look horribly dated. For example look at the cursive “Cyclones” design. Now look at this:

That is the helmet the Cyclones wore from 1987-94. It was pretty cutting edge, in the 80s. Now it looks like Iowa State is showing up to an 80s theme party. Perhaps if they choose these helmets their new intro music will be “Axel F”.

Now look at the “ISU” helmet. Then look at this:

The top helmet is the helmet the Cyclones wore from 1981-82. The bottom helmet is the one that they wore in 1979. The lines coming off the back of the ISU on the top helmet scream “USFL expansion team”. The star that dots the ISU on the bottom helmet screams “Starlight Express”. If you are a football team, you don’t want to remind people of musicals about roller skaters.

Take a look at the “I State” helmet and then look at this:

The top helmet is from 1976-78. The bottom helmet is from 1980. It isn’t that I hate these helmet designs. It is that they are from 30 years ago. They look like they are from 30 years ago. The new helmet design looks like it is from 30 years ago.

I’m not against retro. I daresay that I am a big fan of retro. Not just in the world of athletics. I love antiques and things that have been used and are clearly from a different era. I’m a huge fan of anachronism.

However, when it comes to the sports world, retro is fine for special occasions. You have a retro uniform day once a season. You don’t design your uniforms to look like after the game the players are going to the disco to hear the latest song from The Tramps.

I would make one exception. I would hope buy a ticket for the retro train if we were to bring back my favorite helmet in Cyclone history. The 1967 helmet. Take a look at this sweet baby.

That is a helmet! It is still retro, but it does correct the 2nd error I feel that the Cyclones have made. That second error is choosing white helmets. The goal of the athletic department was have a white background so that the logo really popped.

I don’t dispute that logic, but with gold pants, cardinal jerseys, and white helmets we are going to look a bit like a walking joke. We are going to look like clowns. So I hope that these 3 helmets are a joke, like putting Jim Harbaugh on the list of coaching candidates and when they announce the new helmet, they pull an entirely new helmet out of thin air. This is my dream.

*Jason Baier requested that I remove the line about the Chiefs. I had to turn down his request because anybody that follows football can tell you that by comparing the uniforms to the Chiefs it is a double slam because the Chiefs are a sorry franchise. You don’t even have to point it out. It is a tautology.