Official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple.
Every college football program in the nation has an official logo and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.
Since Athlon Sports has been designing the best-looking magazines on newsstands for the better part of half a century, we asked our senior graphic design guru to rank college football's best and worst logos.
Here is what Art Director Matt Taliaferro best (and worst) logos in college football.
Note: Since college football is now an autonomous sport, only the Big 5 (including Notre Dame) are eligible.
College Football's Best Official Logos
The best logo in college football, the Longhorn is classic, simple, unchanging but also unique and creative. There is nothing else to say.
There are tons of Tigers, Wildcats and Bulldogs in college sports but none use their mascot quite like Clemson. The Tiger Paw print is synonymous with Clemson athletics and is utterly simple but still edgy and creative.
Find me a more effective marriage of color and simplicity of design and I'll hand these writing duties over to you. Georgia's logo is so timeless that I can't remember there ever being another that represented the football team. When you see this, there's no confusion as to what you're looking at.
It's clean, classic, gets the point across and is recognizable. It has some fierce edginess to it, the color scheme is perfect and there is no doubt it represents a Spartan.
Simple, tasteful, unchanging and very obvious. This emblem with its signature gold trim is one of the best in the nation and leaves little doubt as to what it represents.
The interlocking "S-C" is as famous as any logo in the nation. The other logo with the script team nickname above the "SC" isn't needed for a major brand like USC.
It is one of the most recognizable logos in college sports. There is some creativity in the interlocking N and D but it's done in a simple, classic and vintage way. I like the N better than the D.
The interlocked N-C are as famous as any brand logo in the nation. There are simple touches of style — the font and black trim — that make this logo completely unmistakable.
Hard to find fault in the interlocking A-U. Again, trimming away all the waste and boiling a logomark down to its most basic typically nets the best results.
As a logo, Tennessee's is as direct and to-the-point as it gets. Think what you will of the orange (personally, I'm no fan), but the unique working of the "T" is as good as it gets. As an aside, UT's retro Davy Crockett logo is badass.
It's as simple as it gets but also brings loads of creativity and history. No other logo turns into a hand signal like "The U" and the two-tone color scheme and pattern is unique.
Historically speaking, few logos are as traditional as the Nittany Lions oval. The smooth looking Lions head has great lines and appears to be hunting... Wolverines or Buckeyes? Few logos combine classy and aggresive like PSU.
It also comes in black, which is slightly more stylish. While maintaining a simple and historic look, the Hawkeye emblen also brings some creativity. In fact, I've no idea what an actual Hawkeye looks like.
There is no doubting what the interlocking "O" and "U" stand for, right? The smooth lines and lack of extras in the font make this a fantastic logo.
The script "UCLA" is one of the most well-known logos in all of sports much less college football. And the way the word Bruins is incorporated makes it one of the most informative in the nation while still being fairly simple.
Michigan State and NC State know exactly what the smart kids from Palo Alto were thinking when this logo was created. It's classic and simple with a touch of style in the stroked white/red trim. Stanford boasts one of the best brand logos in the nation.
It doesn't get any simpler than the Oregon "O." There is some subtle style to the font that makes it cooler than the average "O." The clean classic look works but some yellow trim might make it the best in the league.
All of Kansas State's design work, color scheme and uniforms are underrated and the logo is the same. Aggressive, stylish but yet still fairly simple and clean.
Someone from A&M needs to call Texas Tech and explain how effective beveling is done. Like Vandy, Texas A&M's logo is simple and therefore works as a potent branding mark.
Normally, a name in a logo doesn't work, but the "S" is perfectly designed into the "O" and it works. It makes it busier than the cleaner, more classic logos above. The colors and trim are second to none.
Others receiving votes: West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Colorado, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Indiana
College Football's Worst Official Logos
The Beavers updated their look recently with a new edgier looking logo. And, frankly, they did a good job. This one is smoother and streamlined and is more aggressive. It's tough to make a beaver look mean, however.
The purple "N" has plenty of things going on around it. The font is seriously bizarre and not really intimidating anyone.
Surprisingly, it's not the gamecock that turns me off here, it's the 90 degree angles on the inside of the "C" — shave those off and the awkwardness of this logo is minimalized. Sure, the rooster could use an upgrade, but let's be honest, it may be time to start from scratch.
The cartoon Jayhawk is a signature logo but doesn't really create an intimidating image in any sense of the word. And why is it dancing?
The cartoon eagle and italicized/overlapped BC just doesn't exude tradition and excellence like some other logos. The colors aren't bad but it's too busy to be considered a great logo..