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Friday, October 14, 2011

Know Your Foe: Michigan State 2011

Your 6-0 Michigan Wolverines pay a visit to Little Brother this Saturday in East Lansing. Sadly, while Michigan holds a 67-31-5 record all-time in this family feud, the Maize and Blue have come up short in the last three meetings.  Of course you already knew that if you live with, work with or know any Spartans.  They've been most helpful in reminding Wolverine fans of our recent shortcomings.  But forget all that for now.  Instead, sit back, relax and read the one blog post that Paul Bunyan would read if he wasn't a trophy: this week's thrilling edition of the MZone's acclaimed KNOW YOUR FOE.

History: Mandated by the 1850 State Constitution, Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. It was the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and the prototype for the entire land-grant system created when President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862. The act granted lands to each loyal state to support a college “where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts . . . in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.

In layman's terms, that roughly translates to: if you can't get into Michigan, go to Michigan State.

In 1857 the college opened with three buildings, five faculty members, and 63 male students (NOTE: we're pretty sure one of those three buildings was burned down that fall during the first year of Ye Old Cedar Fest).

In an impressive show of patriotism, in 1861 the entire first class of 63 left the school before their graduation ceremony to enlist and fight in the Union Army. They all graduated from MSU in absentia (this explains why Michigan State students today are often absent from classes on Thursdays and Fridays after getting shitfaced at the local bars on Wednesday and Thursday nights: it's to honor those initial 63 Spartans). 

Thank goodness they started admitting
women in 1870!
Until 1870, the college only admitted men (a situation that, if you've ever visited MSU, you'll quickly notice that they've more than made up for.  Hats off, Spartans, on that front).  In 1899, the college admitted its first African-American student, William O. Thompson. He went on to teach at what is now Tuskegee University under the mentorship of Booker T. Washington.

Over the years, the official names of Michigan State University have changed and changed and changed as, like your little brother, they keep trying to figure out who they are evolved to reflect the growth of the institution:

-- In 1855, they were the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan.
-- In 1861, that was changed to State Agricultural College (although they had to know that a name like SAC wasn't gonna last for long).
-- In 1909, somebody apparently got tired off all the "ball" jokes and the name was changed to Michigan Agricultural School. 
-- By 1925, the curriculum had expanded so much, the school petitioned to drop the word "Agriculture" from it's name. However, the University of Michigan, like any big brother trying to make things difficult for his little sib, opposed the name change. As a compromise, the state government decided to call it Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science.
-- In 1955, they somehow sneaked the word "University" into their name and became Michigan State University of Agriculture and Applied Science
--  Finally, in 1964, the name was officially changed to Michigan State University
-- In the 1970s and 80s during Bo's coaching tenure in A2, they were commonly known as "Michigan's Bitch."

Location: MSU's main campus is located in East Lansing, a town so exciting they put pictures up of yard waste and its disposal on the main page of the city's website.  The original post office address was "Agricultural College, Michigan". In 1907 the city was incorporated, proposed under the name "College Park"; the legislature approved the charter but changed the name to "East Lansing".  Now it is simply called "That place U-M students go to have fun with old high school friends on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday weekends."

While we give our B1G rivals a hard time about everything else, even we have to admit that MSU's campus is beautiful.  It's especially stunning when backlit by the glow of burning couches during one of the many riots the school seems to specialize in.

Sparty has the eighth largest student body in the U.S. The student body is 52% female and 48% male (again, props) with 89% of its students coming from in-state.

Nickname:  Until 1925, they were known as Aggies.  Then, according to the school website:

The college sponsored a contest to select a nickname to replace "Aggies" and picked "The Michigan Staters." George S. Alderton, then sports editor of the Lansing State Journal, decided the name was too cumbersome for newspaper writing and vowed to find a better one. Alderton contacted Jim Hasselman of Information Services to see if entries still remained from the contest. When informed that they still existed, Alderton ran across the entry name of "Spartans" and then decided that was the choice.

Basically, Spartans, it means your school name was picked by a newspaper hack.  On the bright side, at least Drew Sharp wasn't around then.

He really does look better like this
Mascot: Painful as it is for KYF to admit, the mascot, Sparty, is pretty cool (ED. NOTE: No, Dave Brandon, this doesn't mean we want a mascot for U-M). He has been a staple at MSU athletic events since 1989 and has been named ESPN’s Mascot of the Year three times and was nominated to the Mascot Hall of Fame. Sparty has also been voted the "Buffest Mascot" by Muscle and Fitness magazine (which shows just how desperate that magazine must have been for material that month). In 2009, Sparty graced the front cover of the Wii edition of the NCAA Football 09 marking the first time a non-athlete had done so (NO, DAVE.  MICHIGAN. DOESN'T. NEED. A. MASCOT! We don't care what all the other schools are doing).

There are also two statues of a proud Spartan warrior displayed on campus. The outdoor bronze version was introduced in 2005 after the original terra cotta was moved indoors to protect it from the elements and Michigan fans vandals. It is common for alumni and Spartan fans to have a picture taken with the statue to mark major life events (first DUI, getting kicked out of school, any bar fight, etc.).  It is more common for Michigan fans to see the giant statue and think, "Damn.  I'd like to paint that fucking thing maize and blue!"  After the final home football game the Spartan Marching Band circles the statue three times before heading home to Adams Field.

Colors/Logo/Helmet: In theory, MSU's colors are Green and White, one of only four BCS schools to wear the unique combo.  But as the MZone recently reported, they sold their souls this week and decided to do their best Baylor impression while sporting Nike "Pro Combat" unis.  Thus, instead of wearing Green and White on Saturday, they will be going with Ugly on Ugly.

Put this on.  Nana made it
special for you.

As far as logos, MSU has the Spartan warrior helmet and fans often sport a block "S" as well.  Speaking of Sparty helmets, the winged football helmet actually debuted at Michigan State College on September 30, 1933 -- two years before Fritz Crisler ordered the helmets out of the Spalding catalog for Princeton University, and five years before they were introduced at University of Michigan.

Just doesn't seem right, does it?

Fight Song: MSU's fight song was created in early 1915 and copyrighted in 1919 when the school was known as Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.). A cheerleader named Francis Irving Lankey, along with lyricist Arthur Sayles, created the song by combining original lyrics with the melody from an early-20th century hymn called "Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus".  Since Michigan State has tried to hide its farming roots like an illegitimate stepchild, the lyrics have also changed.  I think we should all do our best to only sing the original lyrics.

Original MAC lyrics
On the banks of the Red Cedar,
There's a school that's known to all;
Its specialty is farming,
And those farmers play football;
Aggie teams are never beaten,
All through the game they'll fight;
Fight for the only colors:
Green and White.
Smash right through that line of blue,
Watch the points keep growing.
Aggie teams are bound to win,
They're fighting with a vim!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Michigan is weakening,
We're going to win this game.
Fight! Fight! Rah! Team, Fight!
Victory for M.A.C.!
Current MSU lyrics
On the banks of the Red Cedar,
There's a school that's known to all;
Its specialty is winning,
And those Spartans play good ball;
Spartan teams are never beaten,
All through the game they'll fight;
Fight for the only colors:
Green and White.
Go right through for MSU,
Watch the points keep growing,
Spartan teams are bound to win,
They're fighting with a vim!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
See their team is weakening,
We're going to win this game,
Fight! Fight! Rah! Team, Fight!
Victory for MSU!

See: even back then they were obsessed with Michigan.

Academics: According the the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings, MSU is tied for 71st with BYU, Va-Tech and fellow B1G school Iowa, leaving them one spot of ahead of academic powerhouse Colorado School of Mines. (Mines, not Mimes.  I think they came in #56).  It has a 70% admission rate and offers over 200 academic programs.  The school is well known for its education and agriculture programs, and has the premier hospitality school in the United States.  So there's a good chance that that guy who checked you in at the Embassy Suites last week went to MSU.

Football: Michigan State started playing football in September of 1896. They won their first ever game 10-0 against Lansing High School. Following World War II, The University of Chicago decided to de-emphasize athletics and resigned from the Big Ten in 1946. Seeking to fill this void, Michigan State lobbied hard and was admitted into the conference in 1949. Clarence "Biggie" Munn turned the Spartans to a national football power. In its 113-year football history, Michigan State has won six national championships according to the list of major selectors recognized by the NCAA, including three consensus titles (1952, 1965 and 1966).

Other Sports: Michigan State has one of nation's premier basketball programs led by Coach Tom Izzo. They have won two NCAA titles and have been to countless Final Fours. MSU has produced many NBA all stars, led by Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.  However, last year, they were swept by the Wolverines.

The Spartan hockey team is also a national power with three NCAA titles and dozens of NHL players over the last couple of years. When Michigan used to kick Sparty's ass in football, MSU fans talked a lot about their hockey program.  Sadly of late, it is Michigan fans that must deflect football shortcomings with hockey superiority talk.

Famous Alums: Famous former alums in entertainment and news include actor James Caan, (Godfather, no diploma), Sam Raimi, (director of Spiderman, Evil Dead, no diploma) and Dateline correspondent Chris "If he shows up at your door you're fucked" Hanson.  Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert also both graduated from MSU.

The list of famous athletes includes b-ball players "Magic" Johnson, Scott Skiles, Steve Smith and Mateen Cleaves (who was in high school in Flint when I was there as well); football players Plaxico "I'm packin' heat" Buress and Bubba Smith; baseball's Kirk Gibson; and a couple of Detroit Red Wings in Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller.

Michigan State has not yet produced a United States President or NASA astronaut.

The Game: This is going to be a true test. They're pretty good on both sides of the ball. Still I believe in Denard and this coaching staff's ability to make adjustments. They'll get it done,

Michigan - 35
Little Brother - 28

Yost's Pick:  I love this team and I love this coaching staff.  They stick together no matter what the circumstances and you can see them getting better right before our eyes.  However, even the truest Blue fan must admit that their #10 ranking is based more on the Michigan name than the team on the field; and there are major weaknesses that can be exploited.  While Unflappable Hoke's steady hand is providing just the right leadership, and Mattison's Magic is working wonders at halftime, I think the fact that the game in East Lansing is the deciding factor.  And yet...

...against my better judgement, I just can't pick against these kids.  Another miracle:

Michigan - 28
MSU - 24


616goblue said...

Since sparty is a true little brother, they have shortcomings with no presidents and no astronauts.

Space bitches, space.


Defense Wins Games said...

One other famous alum/athlete. Kirk Gibson. sPARTY football player/Detroit Tiger & other various teams.

MMQ said...

Ron and Yost,

Over the years, there have been several version of the Sparty Fight Song that we have sung (loudly, I might add) in our sections at the game, basketball games, and the like...While I know it's a little cumbersome, it's seems right to share it now:

Can't get through the Maize and Blue,
But they still keep tryin'!
Spartan teams they always lose
they "seldom" make a BCS game!
See States Defense weakening
Then hear their fans Exclaim!
"OH-NO! Not Again!
Another Loss for MSU!

Craig said...

You have to give credit to Michigan State. What other school could so frequently lose in such epic fashion that they would generate their own meme.

Sparty, no!

Yost said...

Oops - I forgot the astronauts and Presidents section. One second...

James said...

Spartan fans want to claim that they inspired Fritz Crisler's design, but they never used a winged helmet with three stripes. It was actually the stripes, not the wings, that was Crisler's innovation. The "wings" were just some extra padding in the forehead area. Crisler added the stripes so quarterbacks could see receivers downfield.

JamesD'Troy said...

@Craig, 'What other school could so frequently lose in such epic fashion that they would generate their own meme.'

Washington State, hence the term 'Cougin' it'.

'"Cougin' it" -the law that Washington State athletes will inexorably snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."

God forbid these teams ever meet in Pasadena. What's left of the Rose Bowl's reputation would be shattered in hosting a competition between the two.

Mikoyan said...

They stole those colors from their littler brother, EMU.

Good stuff though.

Mikoyan said...

Speaking of matchups...Until the Red Sox won the World Series, there was the real possibility that the Cubs and Red Sox could meet in the World Series. I was thinking that if that happened, it would go to 7 games but as the game went into so many extra innings that the bat boys were pitching, it would get called and the commissioner would say, "These two teams will never play in the World Series again because the baseball gods have spoken".