The best part of the Florida Gators’ new white helmets, revealed to much fanfare on Sunday night (and mentioned in Chomping at Bits this morning), is obviously that they maintain maybe the classic element of Florida’s helmets — one of the best elements of Florida’s style as a whole, for my money — and do so on both sides of the skull this time.
❄️❄️❄️ pic.twitter.com/jEYBYtAvc6— GatorsEquipment (@GatorsEquipment) October 21, 2018
❄️ #UFvsUGA pic.twitter.com/YRq9FavcRs— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 21, 2018
Apart from getting the script Gators on both sides of a white helmet, though, the reintroduction of a white helmet after the mixed results and reaction the lids got during the Jim McElwain era shows that Florida is willing to experiment with different sartorial choices without going radical to the point of ridiculousness.
Florida wore white helmets just five times under McElwain, but they had diminishing returns. The Gators won in their debut against Vanderbilt in 2015, but lost their next three games wearing white helmets — against Florida State in 2015, Tennessee in 2016, and Michigan in 2017 — before getting a second win with them on against UAB in 2017.
And Florida’s previous white helmets, which were part of a Nike Pro Combat uniform introduced at the end of the 2009 season, were also part of mixed results: Florida thrashed Florida State in Tim Tebow’s final home game with the white lids on, but got thumped by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game with the same domes on top a week later.
Of course, both of those previous white helmets have featured the little-loved “Speed F” logo — which has been part of Florida’s style sheet since the mid-1990s, but has been used more by the program in recent years — on at least one side of the helmet.
The helmets teased Sunday feature that logo only on the bumper in the front of the helmet, where Florida’s orange helmets feature a Gator Head, and have the script Gators on either side. I think that looks far better, personally, and I expect that most fans will agree if — small if, here — Florida dons these helmets against Georgia, as it is clearly hinting it will with those snowflake emojis. (Florida is the designated road team for this year’s Florida-Georgia game, and would logically be in line to wear white uniforms.)
And I think most fans — especially younger ones with fewer attachments to the classic, time-tested elements of Florida’s program — will welcome white helmets with open arms, even knowing that a fan base receiving new designs well is a recipe for a program getting more experimental.
That all said, though: If Florida doesn’t win or at least perform well on Saturday against Georgia in these helmets, it’s going to get a lot of flak from some fans — especially older ones with more attachments to the classic, time-tested elements of Florida’s program and more money to spend — who complain about any and all deviations from the norm.
Looking good and playing good is the ideal.
Doing just the former means a whole lot less.