TCU Football Helmet – A History

TCU’s football helmets have a memorable history dating back over 50 years. They have had some combination of player numbers, images of a horned frog, and the letters T-C-U over the years. They have been white, purple, silver, and occasionally black. The 1960’s saw four different helmet designs. Much of that period, the helmet was either white or purple with the player’s number (e.g. 88) on the side of the helmet, either in a sans serif font or a block font. During 1966, the helmet had a strange-looking horned frog head. The next year, the letters TCU were on the helmet; it was similar to the modern day Texas A&M logo with a big T and a smaller C and U on either side. In the 1970’s, the letters TCU again appeared on the helmet, in a stylized serif font with T, C, and U going in a diagonal path down from facemask side to back side.

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Perhaps one of the most-loved and famous logos of TCU appeared in 1977. The “Flying T” had a large T racing from front to back. C and U were underneath. It had an ESPN-logo type feel to it. Like a stencil, the C and U were not fully connected. They were 3 and 2 unconnected blocks of text. The original Flying T helmet was silver, but by 1980, it was purple and it remained that way until 1991. By 1992, the administration apparently wanted a new look and decided to retire the Flying T; although as recently as 2010, there were Facebook postings asking them to bring it back. In 1992, the helmet remained purple, but went to three equal-sized block letters of TCU. They had an upslope on the T, a level slope on the C, and a downslope on the U. The next year, the helmet was changed from purple to silver and the TCU letters were outlined in white. This design held steady for 2 years before being replaced with a black outline and black facemask. A horned frog was added underneath the letters, the color went back to purple, and this designed remained with some minor tweaking from 1998 to 2010. On some specific games, Nike did a custom helmet of either black or silver with red frogs blood (horned frogs spit blood from their eyes to scare predators) and a frog-like scale. Finally, during the 2011 Rose Bowl game, the frog had a rose through its mouth. The latest helmet marks a return to the TCU lettering with no frog. Looking at the past few years with so many changes and adjustments, it is unlikely to last without some changes soon.

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by Donald Plunkett