Editor’s note: MSU graduate Chris Walker’s name has been updated to accurately reflect the correct spelling.
“Pandemonium” might be a word one would use to describe the Izzone during the MSU vs. Michigan game last Tuesday. For 40 minutes of game action, students stood, screamed and celebrated as MSU smashed the Wolverines, 75-52.
One of the biggest takeaways from the game were the innovative “You Off” shirts, sported by many students in the Izzone. An answer to the Adidas-sponsored Michigan Wolverine shirts “We On,” the “You Off” shirts made waves across the nation, being mentioned on SportsCenter and featured on a Yahoo! Sports blog last week.
The shirts were produced by a duo of MSU graduates, Chris Walker and Jason McDonald. Walker, who initially came up with the concept, said he knew he had to come up with something for the game.
“I was watching Michigan play one time on TV, and I saw the “We On” T-shirts, and I knew that they were coming to East Lansing to play us soon,” Walker said. “I thought, ‘First of all, these shirts don’t make sense to me. Second of all, I don’t think we can let Michigan come to East Lansing wearing these shirts.’”
Walker came up with a design and showed it to his friends through social media. After receiving positive feedback, he turned to McDonald, who is a member of his bowling league and owns a T-shirt company — J Ryan and Associates. McDonald thought it was a great idea and agreed to print the shirts.
“We designed the concept on Monday night, so the shirts were ordered, printed, and ready to go by Tuesday morning,” McDonald said. “It all happened in one day, which made it that much more exciting to see them on TV.”
The Izzone is a product of the Student Alumni Foundation, or SAF. Janel Rutzen, SAF program coordinator, said a significant amount of people inquired about the shirts after the game.
“We had a lot of people after the Michigan game calling trying to find them — trying to find them in bookstores,” Rutzen said. “Of course they were sold independently. Everyone just really got into the game, got into the rivalry, and it was great to poke fun at (Michigan’s) shirts.”
Walker and McDonald were both surprised at the amount of national attention – and acclaim – the shirts received.
“I had requests days after from people saying ‘I gotta have one of those T-shirts,’ McDonald said. “The fact that the T-shirts made ‘SportsCenter’ is one of the highlights of my career in this business. I thought that was fantastic.”
“I even had a few Michigan fans, friends of mine, tell me that they didn’t like me for it, but (admitted) it was brilliant,” he added.
Walker plans to continue selling the “You Off” T-shirts for $10 on his website, www.youoffshirt.blogspot.com. The duo also said there is a possibility new shirt concepts could be created in the future as well.
“If the opportunity presents itself,” McDonald said. “This opportunity was spun off of the design that Adidas made for the Michigan shirts. If there’s another opportunity or another statement made by a player that we can exploit and get the students involved and excited about, then yeah, I’d love to do it again.”