Rubdowns, inspections, buffing—it’s an operation of military precision and delicate care. A dozen student trainers are tasked with cleaning, fixing and prepping the team’s 120 helmets from one game to the next. Each helmet receives an average of 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes of attention, says Equipment Manager Greg Stringfellow. Tiger helmets contain no paint, only decals, though a considerable amount of wax is used to get the “scars” out.
According to Stringfellow, here is the step-by-step process:
1. A helmet is first stripped of all decals. If the pads are removable, they are taken off, too.
2. The facemask and chinstrap hardware is removed and inspected for damage. The shell of the helmet is inspected for cracks.
3. If the helmet is not damaged, any glue residue left by the decals is removed, and the helmet is wiped down with a multipurpose cleaner to get dirt out of any scratches. This step is done twice.
4. The inside of the helmet is hosed down and drained.
5. The helmet is taken to the buffing and polishing wheel. Wax is used for a shiny finish.
6. All decals are reapplied, and the facemask and chinstrap hardware is reattached.
7. A group of senior managers inspects each repaired and reassembled helmet.
8. On Saturday morning, the helmets receive one final inspection and are approved for the game.