The modern era of University of Iowa football helmets began with a yellow helmet, gray facemask, black vertical stripe and black numbers on the side. This design was used through 1964 and was brought back once in 2010 in a game against Ball State to commemorate the 1959 Rose Bowl Champion Hawkeye squad. The first major change occurred in 1965 when the numbers on the side were replaced by a black “I” with a white circle and a thin black outline in the logo spot. This logo did not last long, however. By 1966, the “I” was removed and the helmet was just solid yellow with black and white vertical stripes.
A logo returned in 1971 with a large soaring eagle across a black background. The eagle had a lot of shading to it. Since the background was now black, the vertical striping switched to a single yellow vertical stripe. This was the second time a logo only lasted one year. By 1972, the logo was changed with all the shading being removed. The eagle was solid yellow, and its talons were similar but slightly altered and thicker. By 1974, Iowa decided it like the solid design again and went back to the solid yellow helmet; this time only having one black stripe with no white stripe outline like they did in the late sixties.
The year 1977 marked another shift. As was popular in that era, the name Iowa in cursive was applied to the yellow helmet with black stripe. The Iowa decal was black but outlined in black. As facemasks of different colors became available, the uniform designers at Iowa decided that a black facemask would fit this design perfectly. The design overall looked pretty crisp as black and yellow are some of the easiest colors to read and see from afar (the billboard industry knows this and uses this scheme often when they are trying to catch your attention).
The current Iowa football helmet has been in use for over 30 years believe it or not. The black helmet with yellow stripe and a graphic Hawkeye head came into use in 1979. This is one of the most memorable logos in college sports and immediately catches your eye with the beak, eye, head, and part stretching from the eye toward the body. High schools and other teams have used this popular logo. There have been a few occasions since 1979 when the Hawkeye football team wore a different helmet. At least twice they have worn an all black helmet to mourn either campus shooting victims or a player’s parents. They also wore a gold helmet once in 2004 to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of Kinnick Stadium.
One final interesting element of the Iowa Hawkeyes football helmet has been the “ANF” letters which where place on a small decal on the back of the helmet. This was worn in the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s. Many people wonder what those letters stood for when they look at historic photos of the Hawkeye team. “America Needs Farmers” is what the ANF stood for and it was meant to support struggling farmers. Even in 2011, they continue to have special America Needs Farmers days where farmers are invited and paid tribute to. It makes sense when you think of Iowa as the corn and soybean farming capital of America.