That is the rumored new UMass helmet, as seen on a physical letter to a 2013 recruit. I’m not going to necessarily compare this new logo to the old UMass logo (seen in this websites top banner). What I am going to attempt to do is explain in what ways the new logo could be an improvement.
1. Achieve consistency in UMass’ athletics branding.
This new logo and scheme could usher in a new era of consistent athletic branding. In 2004, when I arrived in Amherst, the basketball court had a massive Sam the Minuteman logo at center court.
And that makes sense. I thought. After all, that was the UMass athletics logo. Then something happened. The university started to push that logo out, at least just a bit. That included re-painting the center court at the Mullins Center.
So are we using the Sam logo, or not? It was still used on TV and other promotional items, but was taken off the court. Why? The logo change, along with taking the maroon off the baselines, really leaves the court lacking some flair and personality. Additionally, the new center court logo is significantly smaller than the old Sam logo. This aspect will be further discussed under point number two.
In 2012, if the football helmet is changed, the court (and the rest of hoop’s branding) should likely change as well. This consistency will help give Massachusetts athletics a more solidified athletic identity.
2. The logo on the helmet (and court) needs to be more prominent than the previous version.
Size matters here, folks. My biggest issue with the previous UMass football uniforms was the size of the logo on the helmet. It looked low budget. I believe much of that was do to the size of the ‘UMass’ insignia.
The size of the logo will go a long way in making it standout. I’m not talking about turning the field maroon, or something outlandish. However, standing out (including to young recruits) should be a priority. Whatever logo the university chooses should be prominently displayed.
3. Overhaul everything as a part of this change, and implement new branding initiatives.
It will be unacceptable to have a new logo for football, while the rest of the athletic teams keep the old scheme.
Moreover, if all black uniforms are going to be used to entice recruits, why stop there? Be bold. Moving to Gillette was bold. Changing the uniforms is bold. As Massachusetts moves up, I’d like to see the university take ques from other successful 1A programs. That could mean a thousand different things, but here’s an example (sticking with the helmets) — a UMass version of the ole “helmet sticker.” A helmet sticker is, for example, the tomahawks which Florida States puts on their players helmets. This could be a tremendously powerful recruiting and motivating tool if done correctly.
Just down the road in Storrs, CT there is a university that somewhat recently went from 1AA to 1A. As painful as it might be, the University of Massachusetts might want to study the Huskies transition. It went rather well.
Getting back to the logo / helmet situation — the UMass football helmet has changed at least 13 times in the past 6 decades. Since 2003 these changes have been small. But, overall, the changes have been significant.
The football program is set to unveil the new uniforms on August 15th. Until then, we wait eagerly. Hopefully this is the new branding that takes Massachusetts to the next level.
Editor’s Note: Speaking of consistency, does this make the new UMass license plates outdated before they ever even hit the road?
[H/T to MaroonMusket for the helmet mock-up]