Florida State has the tomahawk. Ohio State **gag** has the buckeye leaf. Clemson has the paw prints. Stanford has the axe blade. Helmet stickers have been a pillar in college football since they were introduced in 1965 for the University of Miami, per ESPN. Helmet stickers are awarded to players who show merit on the gridiron. Being rewarded with a helmet sticker is a very rewarding event for a college football player. It shows the coaching staff has recognized your success, meaning that all of the blood, sweat and tears that you have shed, has paid off. Never in college football have teams rewarded personalized helmet stickers. Every single tomahawk, buckeye, paw print, axe blade, wolverine, train, wildcat, hog head, etc. handed out has been exactly the same, respectively. No helmet sticker has shown how many touchdowns or tackles a player has had. However, Northwest Missouri State Bearcat football has thrown a new twist on collegiate helmet stickers. They now showcase players academic advisors, GPA's, and majors. Not every player receives one of these stickers, though. Only players that manage a 3.0 GPA or higher are given these stickers to display. Interesting, isn't it? Merit is measured in all different ways. Clearly, NWMSU's coaching staff values merit in the classroom above merit on the field, which is by no means a bad value to have. However, do the stickers REALLY need to disclose all of the information that they do? That is the million dollar question that, sadly, does not have a solidified answer. But, I'll try to answer it as best as I can.
Before judging NWMSU's helmet stickers, it is important to have some background on the program. They have a long history of success. Since 1997, they have won 13 MIAA Conference championships and 5 NCAA Division II championships...they are very successful on the field. Former coach Mel Tjeerdsma holds the Division II record for most postseason wins with 22. They have had 27 total Conference titles and 69 Consensus All-Americans. You don't receive those kinds of nods without a culture of discipline. I firmly believe that coach Tjeerdsma, and his successor, Adam Dorrel, built a culture within their program that pushes their players to grow into disciplined young men. This move is not a let-me-show-off-how-good-my-GPA-is for the players. This is a look-at-what-I've-worked-my-ass-off-for-and-you-should-too statement. Helmet stickers are given to revered players that model what the coaching staff is looking for in college football players. At NWSMU, it is obvious that their players can be trusted to hold themselves accountable and encourage others to be disciplined. My hat is off to the Bearcats for this bold and daring move, as it encourages a culture of discipline, both on and off of the field.