Michigan Football Helmet Changes Over the Years


When people think of the Michigan Wolverines, one of their first thoughts is probably the iconic winged helmet.

Whether you’re a football fan or not, if you turn on the TV and see the Wolverines, you know exactly which team they’re based on the helmet. Going back to the late 1930s, Michigan had the winged helmet, and fans find it one of the sharpest helmets in all of football.

It depends on who you talk to, but different rankings rank the Michigan helmet in the top five of all college football helmets. Not only do rookies want to play in the biggest stadium in football, they dream of wearing winged helmets.

While some of the changes are huge, over the years Michigan has made changes to their helmet and you can see what’s up below.

1938-1956

Michigan Wolverines coach Fritz Crisler, right, talks to Wolverines captain and quarterback George Ceithaml during spring training in Ann Arbor, Michigan, April 3, 1942. There are rumors that Coach Crisler will be in charge of grilling activities at Naval Training Station Great Lakes next fall. (AP Photo)

The oldest helmet photo we could find. Coach Fritz Crisler wanted to spice up the solid color helmet by putting the corn winged feature on the leather helmet.

1957-1965

Michigan running back Ron Johnson is stopped after a narrow third period gain by Michigan State defensive back Bill Ware in Ann Arbor, Michigan on October 14, 1967. (AP Photo/Preston Stroup)

Michigan moved away from the leather helmet, and most Wolverines had a two-bar face mask on their helmets. The players had their number on the side of the helmet.

1971-1981

October 26, 1974, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; FILE PICTURE; Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive end Dan Christensen (86) attempts to bring down Michigan Wolverines quarterback Dennis Franklin (9) at Michigan Stadium during the 1974 season. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Bo Schembechler created the helmet stickers Michigan fans know today. The stickers showed achievements in previous games or practices.

1982-2011

September 1986; Location unknown; FILE PICTURE; Michigan Wolverines Quarterback #4 Jim Harbaugh in action during the 1986 season. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports Copyright (c) Malcolm Emmons

While the helmet decals remained for a few more years, Michigan went back to a basic look with just his corn-winged and blue helmet.

2011: Under the lights

September 10, 2011; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) passes the ball in the fourth quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In Game 2 of the season against Notre Dame in 2011, Michigan had an all-new jersey made for the first night game at Michigan Stadium. The helmets also had a twist by putting the numbers back to the side.

2012: Outback Bowl

January 1, 2013; Tampa, Florida, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker DeVonte Holloman (21) tackles Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (12) during the first quarter of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement – USA TODAY Sports

In 2012, Michigan had another alternate jersey made to participate in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina. The helmets had a matte black finish on them.

2012-2013

September 8, 2012; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) heads the ball against the Air Force Falcons at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Although it may be difficult to see, Michigan has added yellow flakes inside the corn portion of the helmet. The Wolverines also removed the numbers from the side of the helmet.

2013: 2nd match against Notre-Dame

September 7, 2013; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) throws the ball in the first quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan wanted to add a little element against the Fighting Irish in the second game of the season in 2013. The Wolverines added some blue flakes on the blue part of the helmet.

2014

October 11, 2014; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) rolls back to pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2014 season, the Wolverines made the corn a bit darker for the duration of the season. It may not be a big change, but there was a noticeable difference.

2015

September 26, 2015; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Jake Rudock (15) passes in the first quarter against the Brigham Young Cougars at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome Coach Jim Harbaugh and Welcome Helmet Stickers. Additionally, the Wolverines darkened the corn again in 2015.

2016-2018

Michigan football-Rashan Gary-Devin Bush-Chase Winovich-Jim Harbaugh-Wolverines-football

Photo by: Isaiah Hole

The corn got a bit brighter and the blue part of the helmet had a matte blue finish.

2019-present

Tru Wilson falls into the arms of Aidan Hutchinson

The Michigan helmet has a full matte finish – the modern college football look.

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