College FB’s Top 10 Best End Zone Designs
September 13th, 2012| by Lost Lettermen
10. Oklahoma State
There are certain college football stadiums where it feels cooler when you find the end zone. It just doesn’t feel like any other field. With that in mind we count down the Top 10 Best End Zone Designs in the sport.
It makes sense that a billionaire magnate like T. Boone Pickens would finance a stadium where hitting pay dirt with a touchdown feels as good as hitting pay dirt in the business world. We’re a fan of bright orange in any college color scheme, and reaching the end zone at Boone Pickens Stadium will give you a craving for sherbet.
Another nice touch is the emphasis on “State”, with “Oklahoma” running above it at about one quarter the font size. God forbid anyone tunes in to a game at Boone Pickens Stadium and mistakenly thinks they’re watching the Sooners.
It’s flashy and unique – much like the Pokes’ high-scoring offense under Mike Gundy.
In preparation for Missouri’s move to the SEC, Faurot Field got a great nip-and-tuck. This included new turf, a larger tiger logo at midfield and “Mizzou Football” spelled out on either sideline.
Thankfully, the Tigers kept their trademark diamond design in the end zone, but with a few changes that we think are for the better. 1) Gold diamonds with black lettering replacing white diamonds with yellow; 2) “Missouri” shortened to “Mizzou”; and 3) A black background.
Mizzou may have lost by 21 in its SEC debut last Saturday, but it certainly wasn’t its home field’s fault.
8. Clemson Alternate End Zone
Not many stadium end zones have a predominantly white background and even Clemson only does it for special occasions. Why they don’t do this fulltime we will never know.
Adding to the look is the tiger’s paw which is so ubiquitous to the university — you know you’re watching a Clemson game with just one look at its helmets — that Clemson substitutes it for the “O” in the school’s name in each end zone.
Yes, it’s somewhat akin to a second-grader drawing animals/shapes in place of letters on their book reports. But one of the reasons we love college football is because of its ability to bring out the inner child in us.
If we were measuring the cool factor/uniqueness of the entire field, Tiger Stadium would be right up there, with its foreboding tiger’s eye at midfield, markings at the yard lines ending in “0” and “5” and the old-school “H” style goal posts.
The end zones, while not No. 1 on this list, are similarly fetching. The Bayou Bengals don’t overdo it with the lettering, leaving things be with just “LSU.” After all, what other school could you confuse that acronym with? (That said, wouldn’t mind seeing it in a more “Saints-like” font.)
What we really like is the inverted color schemes in either end zone. One is yellow letters on a purple background, the other is vice versa. There’s something awesomely old-timey about that.
The only FBS team not located on the mainland, the Warriors habitually have to travel farther than any other team during the regular season. So it makes sense that Hawai’i will want to personalize the design of its end zones at Aloha Stadium in order to more cherish their home games.
This might be the only end zone in major college football that features an apostrophe. (Kudos to the school for spelling the state’s name traditionally.) The lettering is unique to the Warriors, with the tapa design paying tribute to the school’s and state’s Pacific Rim location.
And the choice to fill in the end zones’ backgrounds with a rich green really accentuates the white lettering. Something it lacked before the playing field was refurbished last year.
Unlike the uniforms that the Terrapins wore against Miami in 2011 (and could potentially sport again in 2012), the Maryland state flag design works very well for the Byrd Stadium end zones.
When you have colors of such differing hues and you want to show them all off equally, you need to give them room to breathe. The problem with the uniforms is that the red, yellow, black and white were all cluttered together. The end zone spreads them out and gives our eyes some mercy.
The flag-themed end zones have been around at Maryland since last season, but they pop even more with the offseason installation of new FieldTurf in June. It would look even better if the entire end zone was colored in, although this would cause a problem with determining the goal line.
Fans who tune in to the Rose Bowl game each year are used to seeing different colored end zones specific to each of the two teams. So much so that they probably forget how easy on the eyes the color scheme of the Rose Bowl’s primary tenants is.
There’s just something about UCLA’s power blue that tugs on our heart strings. Can anybody who has that shade of color truly be evil? And while we normally eschew on the side of “the more unique the font the better,” the gold block letters that spell out “UCLA” feel appropriately timeless.
UCLA fans would be ecstatic if the No. 23 Bruins (2–0) have the privilege of seeing their end zone at the Rose Bowl game again next January for the first time since 1999.
3. Florida State
A decade’s worth of football mediocrity haven’t taken away from the fact that Florida State athletics has some of the cooler designs in college sports – particularly when it comes to their color scheme and the fonts of their letters.
Just as No. 6 Hawai’i pays tribute to its pacific roots with its tapa letters, the font for FSU’s “Seminoles” end zone (and “Florida State” on the opposite end of Doak Campbell Stadium) is in honor of the Native American tribe to which they pay tribute. And that deep shade of red (“garnet”) never gets old for us.
If the ‘Noles added spears like they had in the old design, then they’d really have us hooked. Perhaps they’re waiting for the team to be as dominant as they were in the days of the old design.
2. Notre Dame
The uber-simple, diagonal line design has become so ubiquitous in football that two of the most tradition-laden NFL teams, the Steelers and Packers, adopted it for their home fields. Yet everyone agrees that the design first came courtesy of Notre Dame Stadium.
When did it come into existence? Eric Murtaugh of One Foot Down has an interesting suggestion: It came about because of the introduction of the concept of the end zone, created to accommodate the rising popularity of the forward pass (which Notre Dame played a big part in the development of).
Simple pattern recognition, that’s it. Considering the sustained success the Irish had over the first eight decades of the 20th century, they likely had no reason to change anything. That includes the old-timey end zone design.
Adding the orange-and-white, tablecloth-like design to the Neyland Stadium end zones was the brainchild of former Vols coach (later athletic director) Doug Dickey. He ordered the end zones to be painted as such when he took over in 1964, and they made their debut against Boston College that Oct. 10.
“I got the idea to use the checkerboard when I saw it in a magazine, maybe in an ad,” Dickey recalled in 2010. “The design caught my eye and I thought we needed to dress up the stadium. It was drab and needed some color.”
The design has since been copied by Navy and Fresno State, among others. But Tennessee was the original and it makes Neyland Stadium one of college football’s most recognizable venues. Like with Maryland, it would look even better if the entire end zone was colored in, but the white makes that a problem.
Still, it’s the most iconic and best-looking end zone in the country hands down.