The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe: A Michigan vs. Michigan State Uni-Retrospect

Its that magical time of year here in Michigan, Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry week. There have been a few famous pranks between the schools over the years during this famed week, the most notable of which is the multiple occasions that Michigan State’s ‘Sparty the Spartan’ statue has been painted by Michigan Students under the cover of night (it is supposed to be guarded by Members of the Michigan State Marching Band, or ‘Sparty Watch” but sometimes, they fall asleep). On Michigan’s campus, the Theta Xi Fraternity has done their ‘Defend The Diag‘ initiative every rivalry week for the past few years and protected the inlaid brass, Block ‘M’ in front of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library from vandalism. As you know, your faithful writer is True Blue all the way through, so today, in honor of this hallowed matchup, I decided that we will go through the football team’s respective uniform histories and suppliers for a look back before Saturday’s epic clash in East Lansing happens.

Michigan State

1933: Believe it or not, Michigan State actually adopted winged helmets a year before Michigan, but no one knows this because Michigan has gone on to win the most games all time in College Football history wearing the Wings.

1947: Michigan State abandons winged helmets after losing to eventual National Champion Michigan in the season opener 55-0.

1964: Block ‘MICHIGAN STATE’ is placed on uniform for the first time.

1965: Spartan Head logo makes its official debut

2002: Ugliest. State Uniforms. EVER. Killed off after one season.

2003: Spartan Helmet Logo makes its return after two year absence

2010: Drastic Redesign after two year study by Nike.

2011: Nike unveils Michigan State’s awful Pro-Combat uniforms, which look like the odd result of Notre Dame‘s color scheme on a USF uniform template


1891: Michigan wears tan vests over blue and yellow striped shirts, probably where the sleeve inspiration for 2011 night game uniforms against Notre Dame came from.

1932: Jersey numbers are added for the first time, famous number 48 was worn by Center Gerald Ford, who would become the 38th President of the United States

1940: Jersey worn by Michigan’s first Heisman winner, Tom Harmon. Maize pants made their debut this season, winged helmets debut in their current incarnation.

1974-75, 1976 Orange Bowl against Oklahoma: Michigan wears white pants with their away uniform for the only time in school history under Bo Schembechler

1996: Nike logo vector appears on home uniforms for the first time as does Block M on the pants

2000: Nike Vector moves from the right shoulder to the center of the chest

2004: Nike logo shifts up to collar, navy blue piping added to jersey

2008: Adidas takes over the contract in the biggest supplier deal in collegiate sport history (8 years, 60 Million Dollars)

2011: Adidas adds Block M to back of uniforms near collar

Coach Brady Hoke adds helmet numbers as of Minnesota game on 10/1 (Says they will remain for the rest of this season at the very least)

Adidas debuts ‘Under The Lights” fauxback uniform, recieved warmly by M faithful and worn in rollercoaster victory over Notre Dame in first night game at Michigan Stadium.

In Summary:

Well there we are, a quick uni-retrospect for each school, as you can see Michigan has made fewer alterations to their uniforms over time, and State has dealt with experimentation far more often. This saturday, Michigan will wear their traditional away uniforms against State’s Pro combats.

Ink Stains

And on a final note, my prediction for Saturday is Michigan 35-28 Michigan State, and for a sendoff, here is your epic Michigan .gif for the game. GO BLUE!


Posted on October 13, 2011, in College Football and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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