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Did Colorado State steal a UNC ram logo?

The answer is “probably not” and does lead to some interesting history of college sports logos.

Colorado State vs Wyoming

It’s not often that a July tweet about a Mountain West football team and their throwback helmet gets the attention of North Carolina fans, but that’s what happened over the weekend.

On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted a picture of helmets that the Colorado State Rams will be wearing in a game this season.

Look familiar? It should. It is basically an exact copy of a ram logo that UNC used, and an updated and more modern version is still in use by the school today. Naturally, the replies to that tweet are full of Tar Heel fans confused and/or angry. There’s plenty of jokes that Carolina should sue, considering that the colors and the hat are pretty much the only differences.

However, the answer to “did Colorado State steal UNC’s logo in 2021?” is: probably not. From what I can tell, Colorado State does not have any webpage or anything readily available online that tracks their logo history. However, I presume they did use that logo in some form or fashion back in the day. So, does that mean they stole it back in the day? Again, the answer is probably not.

The reason I feel comfortable saying it’s probably not is all down to one man: Arthur Evans.

Experiment time: Think of a college you know with some kind of animal mascot. For today, let’s go with the Oregon State Beavers. Google “(X School) throwback logo.” Chances are good, you will find an old timey logo that features whatever animal the mascot is in a sailor’s hat, similar looking to the one used by UNC and on the Colorado State helmet. Lo and behold, here’s the beaver for Oregon State.

How did all these logos come to be: the aforementioned Arthur Evans. From the 1930 to the 1970s, Evans, a former artist for Disney, was estimated to have drawn the logo for 90% of college teams. He drew the UNC ram in sailor hat, and almost certainly also used it when Colorado State came calling, or maybe it was the reverse and it was re-used for UNC. Sure, enough, the Fordham Rams have used a similar logo.

For team with a Tigers’ nickname, the logo reuse is even more prevalent.

In that picture, you can see conference rivals Auburn and LSU use the exact same Tiger logo. It doesn’t stop with them either. Princeton, Missouri, and Occidental are all among those who used a variation of that tiger.

While the angry ram in a sailor’s hat is more identifiable with UNC than CSU, it is almost certainly just as much of a throwback for them. Despite what it may seem, that Colorado State logo was probably not stolen.

On the other hand, there’s still Rhode Island’s whole steez. URI, we still need to talk.

Edit: Kyle Neaves, an Associate Athletic Director for Communications for Colorado State got in touch to further explain the deal with the logos from this era.