Monday, April 26, 2010

TOSSS users give athletics redesign a solid B minus

With a few days left to vote in the poll, TOSSS readers are giving a decent grade to the athletics redesign.

Overall, our poll is showing a 2.6 on a 4 point scale, a solid B-. Personally, I'd give it an A- or B+, with especially high marks for volleyball.

If you haven't voted yet, be sure to do so.

Friday, April 23, 2010

MSU unveils new uniforms, Nike-inspired branding

By James Hensley, Special to The Other Side of Spartan Sports

The unveiling of the new Spartan uniforms started in much the same manner that the public first learned about the branding campaign—with a leak on the internet. The Facebook group “The Old Spartan Logo” released a link approximately an hour and half before the beginning of the official press conference. The link was taken down within minutes of being posted, but the commentary on the new age of Spartan jerseys had begun.

By the time the press conference started there were already many different opinions about the jerseys posted on Facebook.

The opening presentation of the press conference had MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis stating that “MSU is a sleeping giant and we’re waking up the sleeping giant” to create a uniform identity for MSU Sports. Mark Vanhorn from Nike said his mission was to “respect the past, represent the future.”

Hopefully, you agree with his vision of MSU’s future.

Hollis commented that a driver of this mission was that at one point there were nine different greens in the uniforms of MSU’s 25 teams.

MSU has now trademarked green, silver, bronze colors, as well as typography, that cannot be used by any other school or organization.

Implementation and Olympic sports

The Athletic Department unveiled the uniforms that will start being used in Fall 2010 with models from the Football, Basketball, Hockey and Volleyball teams. When questioned about the implementation schedule for the teams, he responded that only the five teams shown today will be sporting the new uniforms next year.

MSU and Nike will continue to design and roll out the same template designs to other non-revenue teams as the teams need new uniforms. This will limit the implementation cost of the uniform changes to regular asset purchases already budgeted for by the departments.


The basic rundown on the football jersey is that the jersey has been updated with the new green and the font has been standardized.

The rear pant legs for the uniform now feature a splash of green. Already, the football jerseys have sparked a bit of a backlash on Facebook, with a majority (but not all) comparing the design to a toned-down version of the over-the-top Nike uniforms of the University of Oregon.


Considering that this branding mission was designed to present a unified Spartan Image with national recognition, it is hard to miss the white elephant in the room: The two home and away jerseys do not have similar base designs.

The home jersey features the traditional Spartan head logo, but lacks the traditional hockey lettering of “Spartans” or “Michigan State.” The return of the Spartan head to the home uniform marks an end to a 40-year-old absence from the hockey uniform. The away jersey may be the first in the ice hockey world to include the players number on the front and lacks conformity with its home jersey mate by using the traditional “Michigan State” across the top.

When asked what he thought about the new bronze in the hockey uniforms, goalie Drew Palmisano responded that he really liked the accent color and was looking forward to repainting part of his goalie helmet to match. Torey Krug said he felt that the two different jersey styles for hockey would not detract from the team’s image when playing road games.

Men's and Women's Basketball

The uniforms for the basketball teams drop the last Nike branding attempt of “State” in italics and replace it with “Spartans” in the new font with the new trademark colors. Given that MSU basketball seems to change uniforms every three years, these changes will likely be well received by the Spartan basketball community.

MSU basketball stars Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas modeled the basketball jerseys, with Lucas sporting a foot brace as he recovers from recent surgery.

How the decisions were made

Both Nike’s Vanhorn and MSU’s Hollis said that community values and focus groups had consisted of MSU administrators, the Athletic Advisory board and student athletes. This effectively means that no alumni and only one non-student athlete was allowed input during the design phase of the project.

This lack of community involvement was one of the causes of the logo scandal that led to over 80,000 Spartan fans to protest changes to the logo.

Since the Athletic Department and Nike kept much of the design process under wraps, the change could provoke some initial resistance about the addition of the bronze color and the changes to some of the jerseys, especially football and hockey.


The department has continued to say this was not a financially motivated project, but the hockey uniforms not having a base design seems to contradict the consistence attempt. Nike’s fingerprints of “over the top” design are hard to miss on all but the Volleyball team’s uniforms.

According to Hollis, the design process has not cost the university any revenues or money, but an interesting fact to consider is that Nike will be the only authorized replica jersey vendor. Since the colors and front are trademarked with MSU and Nike, there will be no cheap replicas for fans looking to save money and show team spirit during these economic hard times.

Something to look forward to is that Mark Hollis commented that sales of old used team jerseys could go on sale to the public as early as this fall, but would not rule out a garage sale before the 2011 Spring Football game, as has been done in the past.

First peek at MSU's new uniforms comes and goes

MSU posted a photo gallery of the new uniforms for football, basketball, hockey and volleyball, but quickly pulled it after it was linked to on a number of MSU sites.

We'll let MSU unveil things for itself, and we'll have a full report from the press conference later today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NCAA to expand tourney to 68 teams

There was talk of a bracket-busting expansion to 96, a little March Madness madness so to speak, but thankfully the NCAA has seen sense and tossed that idea in the trash.

Instead, the annual basketball competition will expand to 68, allowing three more bubble teams to make the big dance. This year, based solely on NIT seeding, that means Illinois, Mississippi State and either Arizona State and Virginia Tech would have taken up those last three new spots.

In recent years, the last bubble teams have typically fallen 12 seed line, which is part of why you see so many 5-12 upsets, but far fewer 4-13 upsets. Instead, the last seeds will now fall on the 13 line, which should lead to a few more competitive 4-13 games (Murray State-Vanderbilt notwithstanding).

The other big news out of this is the TV deal. The Turner networks (TNT, TBS and TruTV) will pick up additional games, so you can watch the whole tourney on network and basic cable. Turner is quite good at basketball, having had an NBA deal for the last few years, so the tournament is in pretty good shape.

But mostly, this ends the problem of CBS not flipping to a more exciting finish because it wants to stay with its national game. Now, I can solve that issue with my remote.

Oh, and by the way, the NCAA makes out like a bandit on the cash end. The deal is for 14 years, and CNBC's Darren Rovell reports that the NCAA will take in an average of $771 million a year, up from $545 million a year.

That's a lot of scholarships for people who will go pro in something other than sports.

Bella Notte: MSU-ND to be a night game

Michigan State will host Notre Dame under the lights at Spartan Stadium, ESPN has announced. The game will kick at 8 p.m. and be broadcast nationally on ABC.

Joe Rexrode points out that this makes three of the last four MSU-ND games night contests, which we here at TOSSS love.

Although, there are some lingering bad memories of night games against Notre Dame. Specifically a certain contest that shall not be named in driving rain where a certain ND QB managed to lead a comeback every time the rain let up, and where a certain MSU squad blew a late lead to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I happened to be sitting one aisle removed from the ND fans for that game, and actually switched sections after the season because I didn't want to experience another game like that.

This year, with an eye on that game and last year's debacle, it's time to make a more positive memory under the lights.