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Athletics dept. deserves faith in logo change

January 24, 2010

Joey Nowak

I don’t like it either.

A proposed new logo. A quiet potential revamping of the university and athletics department’s image.


It seems the MSU athletics department has incurred an unexpected and unfamiliar situation: It was blindsided. A group that works carefully and cautiously around the clock had its latest project — an overhaul of the university’s Spartans helmet logo and likely more — sniffed out.

MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis confirmed Thursday evening that, indeed, a “Spartan logo, posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site, is a single element of a comprehensive brand and identity project that will be unveiled in April.”

And chaos ensued. (Mind you, that chaos pales in comparison to the bedlam that will transpire should this “project” involve a change from Green and White. “Go Purple! Go Gold!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

Nonetheless, Facebook went crazy, as did the message boards. The State News quickly received feedback from alumni, fans and students vehemently opposing the idea. Heck, people even voted in our poll. And the outcry is staggering.

But keep in mind, this is only part of a bigger project — the details of which we still don’t know. Plain and simple, we still don’t know what all this means. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned covering this athletics department for four years, it’s that it never acts hastily. Everything — from food drives to White Outs at basketball games to a home-and-home series with a defending national champion — is meticulously planned.

I trust and expect Hollis and Co. to invoke their inner Aristotle and find the Golden Mean. Meet in the middle. We’re not Oregon, who has a Nike-funded identity crisis more often than Heidi Montag. And no one wants a tacky and characterless logo to give the appearance of a Wal-Mart Wolver… err, Spartan.

You take one look at an MSU football player and you see that Spartans helmet. But if you look a second time, you also see a little swoosh on the left breast of their uniform.

I hate to say it, but in today’s economy, that little swoosh can have just as much weight as anything else. Nike has been very good to this university and I’d be remiss to say it isn’t going to be involved in whatever is up Hollis’ sleeve come April.

We’ve had fonts, logos, uniforms and helmets redesigned before. Remember that Aztec border around the Reebok uniforms when the men’s basketball team won the national title in 2000? I liked those, as did thousands of fans. But things change and things evolve.

Most anywhere you look in the MSU community, you see the Spartans head. Walking through campus on a game day, you’ll see it plastered onto a university building, magnetized to a tailgater’s passenger-side door or on the cheek of a girl walking into a game with her family.

Then you enter Spartan Stadium, where athletes don the same insignia that rests at the free-throw line at Breslin Center and adorns banners on the outside of the stadium.

Simply put, that helmet is Michigan State. It represents timeless tradition, a history of excellence and a long-standing reputation of success in the college sports arena.

But there is another element in this equation with a coinciding reputation of MSU excellence: Hollis. Since coming to MSU, every project he’s had his hand in has turned to green gold. Basketbowl, the Cold War and the Celebrate the State series all have done wonders in putting MSU on the map and making the institution a front-runner in the student-athlete community.

Everything the athletics department does is with the MSU community’s best interest at heart. We’ve gotten earfuls about change in the last two years — change we need, change we aren’t seeing, change we want.

This might not be any of those. But it just might be a change for the better.

Joey Nowak is the State News men’s basketball reporter. He can be reached at

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