Since MSU underwent the Nike rebranding in 2010, there has been a strong emphasis on "Spartans" over "Michigan State." The Block S is being replaced by the Spartan Helmet just about everywhere, and one former MSU coach is trying to stop this.
On Feb. 1, the change will continue on the MSU fundraising license plates, with the helmet replacing the Block S
The Spartan helmet has come to be recognized in Michigan, across the United States and around the world as a distinctive symbol of MSU and what it means to be a Spartan.
Former MSU head coach and current trustee George Perles has sent an e-mail to the MSU Football Players Association, asking people to contact the athletic department and other school officials to protest.
The e-mail, which is also posted on the FPA website, reads as follows:
My Fellow MSU FPA Members,
I am taking the opportunity to use this forum as an avenue to speak to you relative to an issue very dear to me and I think also very important to you.
As you know, I am currently one of the eight trustees that you have elected and entrusted me with preserving the integrity of our university along with making decisions that are the best for our school.
I have devoted many years at MSU covering many disciplines that relate to our image. Starting as a player in the 50's to an assistant coach under Duffy in the 60's and returning as Head football coach in the 80's/90's along with the Athletic Directorship as well. In each case I have had the best interests of our University at heart.
I write to you now as not only your Trustee but also a member of the MSU FPA. There is an issue of significant importance that reflects on our University, its traditions and its integrity. We have always been a University that does not turn its back on tradition.
There is a movement afoot to remove the Block "S" from the Michigan license plates this coming February, 2014, and replace it with the Spartan Head. If this were the only item it might be different but we have already seen the Block "S" disappear from the center of our gridiron, basketball court and other venues along with promotional clothing. This is troubling to me. We have had the symbol of the Block "S" as our logo since the time in MSU history back as far as the late 1890's/early 1900's. It was the logo for our first Varsity Club back in 1915 and has continued on since that time.
I can understand using the Spartan head and using it to also help identify the MSU Spartans, but you do not just throw away tradition, loyalty to our past history and former Spartan participants. Our Block "S" has been an external symbol of MAC, MSC, and MSU. It is not up for sale to the highest bidder or should it be replaced. Even Coach Dantonio has spoken of "Embracing the Past".
A decision of this magnitude should not be made in isolation and it should be a well thought out move. But my point is that just as the Board of Trustees in the past decided that our school should move from MAC to MSC to MSU, so should the current board be the final group to make any decision this major and look for a possible change in our traditions.
I gather you all can see where my loyalties lie. Coaches Macklin thru Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty were all proud and knew our symbol at MSU is the Block "S". Changing it now would be a slap in the face to all that have gone before us and built the Spartan traditions. I have requested time at our Trustees meeting in early December to discuss this issue and attempt to get the Board to respect our heritage and conclude that the Block "S" should indeed be our legacy, logo and continued tradition.
Not all of you may agree with me and I realize that you have a right to your opinions. But go into your closet and pull out your Varsity Jacket, your Letter Sweater and consider the history of this University. Our Block "S" has been that symbol of consistency and in my mind should continue as such.
I would consider it an honor to have you walk along side of me and voice your opinions, one way or the other, but take an active part in this historic moment to right our ship and correct its course. Please send in your correspondence in emails, letters, phone calls, texts, tweets and Facebook postings to our Administrators to preserve the integrity of our emblem. I would recommend contacting the Director of Athletics, President of the University, Board of Trustees and let your voices be heard and expressed.
They are as follows:
Lou Anna K. Simon, 450 Hannah Administration Building, MSU, East Lansing, MI 48824-1046,
Mark Hollis, Director of Athletics, 248 Jenison Field House, East Lansing, MI 48824-1025 Trustees:
Falyene Owen, Joel Ferguson, Chairman, Dianne Byrum, Diann Woodard, Brian Breslin, Vice Chairman, Brian Masallam, Mitch Lyons can all be contacted at 450 Hannah Administration Bldg, E. Lansing, MI 48824-1046, 517-353-4647
Their emails can be found at the MSU website, www.msu.edu .
I appreciate the MSU FPA giving me this forum to express my opinion and relate to you what is happening currently.
Again, I wish you all Happy Holidays and Go Green!!
Coach George Perles
MSU FPA Member
It's no surprise the Block S is so important to Perles. When he became head coach in 1983, he put the Block S on the football helmet for the first time. When Nick Saban took over, it went back to a Helmet logo and has been that since, save for 2001-02.
I miss "S" on Michigan State helmet. Cal's entire ensemble. Miami as most dominant program eva yet STILL cant sellout Orange Bowl— SPORTSbyBROOKS (@SPORTSbyBROOKS) August 21, 2011
On a personal note, I've been making similar comments regarding the Block S.
I understand both sides. Yes, many schools use a block S, and the school is known nationally as the "Spartans" and "Sparty." I know the emphasis of "Spartans" is more edgy and unique from Nike's point of view.
But the Block S is tradition. It's a shame it is being phased out just about everywhere. To me, college athletics are letter logos. The Block M, the Block O, the linking "OU," "SC," "ND," "AU" and more. Similar to pro baseball.
The Spartan helmet can be the school's primary logo. I just don't like the Block S completely disappearing. It's still Michigan State University. USC has the linking letters as well as the Trojan logo. Florida has recently done what MSU has, putting a Gator at midfield instead of the "F", but the letter logo is still around. Iowa used to use an "I." Penn State used to use an "S." Both now use animal logos. While they're unique and recognizable, they don't feel like college, and that's the point of the rebranding — to have the look of a professional organization.
MSU also has the gruff Sparty logo and the old MAC logo on some throwback gear. Frankly, I'm surprised MSU still has "Michigan State" across the regular home and away football jerseys and on the Breslin Center baseline.
Anyway, I'm not telling any of you to pick a side or contact the administration. I just found it interesting that Perles is fighting back. It's hard to see anything changing, but if enough former players and alumni make a case, perhaps something will.