The Tigers sport one of the most iconic looks in college football.
Largely unchanged over the decades, LSU is best known for wearing white home jerseys (a tradition that remained virtually unbroken except for an 11-year stretch from 1983 to 1994) and its classic helmets.
The main football team covers have mostly stayed the same since 1980, but with a surprising number of alternate options and slight tweaks you may not even have been aware of, the style story Tigers’ Saturday night may be a little more interesting than many have thought.
Here’s a look at how the LSU helmet design has evolved over the years.
Before 1946: Leather helmets
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As was the case in college football at the time, LSU donned leather helmets until the 1946 season. While certainly not safe at all, these helmets certainly had a charm. While many of us may think helmets from this era are generic in color, the Tigers implemented a purple and gold look that bears some resemblance to the modern helmet. Michigan helmets.
1946-55: Hard hats without face shields
When the Tigers finally ditched the tough leather helmets heading into the 1946 season, they opted for an old gold helmet, which you can see in the photo above from a game against Texas in 1950. Like the leather helmets before them, these lids had no face masks. This change would not come until about a decade later.
1956-71: Yellow helmets with numbers
It was around this time that the modern LSU helmet began to take shape, although there are still many differences. In 1956, head coach Paul Dietzel changed the color of the helmet from old gold to yellow gold, and a year later the Tigers began adding numbers to the side of the helmets. It is a tradition that is mainly associated with Alabama these days, but it was pretty common in those days of college football. These helmets also introduced the center stripes.
1972-76: Tiger logo introduced
LSU made a big change heading into the 1972 season, debuting the Tiger logo which, despite some changes, remains on the side of the helmet to this day. These helmets still had quite a few differences from the ones that would take its place a few years from now, primarily the fact that the “LSU” block logo was inside the Tiger logo rather than outside, as it would become the case later.
1977-79: Classic design, gray face mask
Beginning in 1977, the Tigers released what is essentially their modern helmet. It featured the curved LSU lettering above the Tiger logo, as it still does to this day. The only real difference was that these initial helmets featured a gray face mask as opposed to the purple mask that would replace it after just three seasons.
1980-2013: The classic
LSU added the purple mask before the 1980 season, resulting in a design so timeless it would hardly be changed for over three decades. These iconic covers were donned for LSU’s national titles in 2003 and 2007, and some of the best seasons in Tigers history are associated with them. Occasional replacements aside, these remain LSU’s go-to helmet.
1997, 2007, 2015-17, 2019, 2021: White Helmet
The most commonly used alternative for the Tigers, the White Helmets made their first appearance in the 1997 Independence Bowl against our Lady. They were used again a decade later to promote relief from Hurricane Katrina in 2007, and they have been used sporadically since, most recently against Texas A&M last season.
2009: Roast pork
LSU paid homage to its 1950s look in a 2009 overtime win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. These modern-style old gold helmets were part of the Nike Pro Combat Series, and the uniform ensemble was nicknamed “Couchon De Lait,” which translates to “roast pork” in Cajun. God, I love the SEC.
2011: Fight pro white
LSU had another Pro Combat look in 2011, and like the one it wore in 2009, these uniforms were only worn once for a game against Auburn. These all-white uniforms also featured a white helmet which looks very similar to the alternates, but features a gold stripe down the center instead of a white stripe.
2014-Present: Scary Tiger
You’d be forgiven for not even knowing that LSU changed its main look in 2014, but indeed, the design was changed slightly to make the Tiger logo look a bit more menacing. Guess these are a little scarier? Either way, LSU wore them through its best season in school history and one of the best in college football history in 2019, so they’ll always hold a special place in the lore of college football. Tigers.
2016: White Retrospectives
LSU debuted another white helmet look against Mississippi State in 2016, which features jersey numbers on the side and the original LSU “L” logo. These retro uniforms have only been worn once.
2018: Purple Helmets
LSU likes to show off new uniform looks against Mississippi State, and it did it again in 2018 with these all-new purple helmets. Like many of the previous alternatives on this list, these have not been ported since. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a nice look the Tigers should consider bringing back at some point.
2018: Yellow with numbers
Purple helmets weren’t the only unique look tried out during the 2018 season. Against Ole Miss, LSU wore their normal jerseys but replaced the usual helmet sticker with jersey numbers. It can be a little jarring when it’s not part of an alternate uniform set, but it’s still pretty slick.