Frivolous question about the Glorious Block M

Submitted by PhilipVU94 on September 3rd, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Sort of a silly question on Football Eve, but part of the fun of being at a new school is learning about its traditions.  And the longer this question goes unanswered, the more obsessive I get about it.

So it's readily apparent to me that the brass block "M" on the Diag:

The Glorious, but Possibly Typeface-Challenged, Block M

doesn't really look that much like the ubiquitous block "M" logo.  Apparently this isn't obvious to everyone.*  (I've always been good at recognizing typefaces/fonts and bad at recognizing human faces, which is not a very beneficial trade.)  

It just surprises me that as for such revered school symbols, both the brass one and the ubiquitous one, no one but me seems to mention the fact that they don't match.  So.... which came first?

*For example, a colleague in my program who had spent her undergraduate years at U-M had no idea what I was talking about.


restive neb

September 3rd, 2010 at 10:39 PM ^

I still don't understand why they made the "M" more subtle.  It used to be encased in a big colored block, making the avoidance of stepping on it much easier.  Now the "M" is encased in a block that matches all of the walkway around it.  If a student isn't paying proper attention, he could easily step on it inadvertantly.  With the old block, everyone avoided the whole block that encased the "M".  Now that the block matches those around it, is it only necessary to avoid the "M" itself?


September 4th, 2010 at 1:20 AM ^

After I took my first blue book, I walked into the Diag and deliberately walked straight at the Block M and said "Ha, take that." and stepped on it. As I stepped on it, I slipped on some water that was on it and almost did a face plant in the middle of a packed Diag. Needless to say, I never doubted the M again.


September 4th, 2010 at 12:53 AM ^

If you notice, it was donated by the Class of 1953.  It's a student-initiated gift, not an officially-designed symbol. 

Super-nitpick: it's usually just called "the M."


September 4th, 2010 at 1:26 AM ^

Come to think of it, the reason I called the brass one a block "M" was because that was the way it was described to me on an informal campus tour last spring.  So perhaps I'm inferring a correspondence where none was originally intended.

I've always loved Michigan's "M" (the ubiquitous, non-split one), and especially how it naturally anchors such elegantly classic field markings -- neither pretentiously plain like ND's nor gaudy like Tennessee's.   Maybe I should have applied to the School of Art and Design instead given the amount of time I spend thinking about this stuff.

Can't wait to experience my first game later today.


September 3rd, 2010 at 11:53 PM ^

I seem to recall several years ago listening to an interview with somebody from the Michigan athetic department who was talking about how Cliff Keen and some of the other administrators sat down and drew up some of the modern logos on a kitchen table back in the '60s.   Evidently this was before sports marketing became the big business it is now, and they wanted to sell shirts and hats to raise money.   


September 4th, 2010 at 12:25 AM ^

My grandfather and my grandfathers friend (who I still hunt with) share this story.

One night, after my Grandpa was getting hammered while at University of Michigan Law School, his friend (the hunting buddy of mine) walked in.  My grandfather who had gone to state was putting a Michigan State flag in a mason jar.  He went out and dug a hole underneath where the block M on the Diag was to be laid, and put it there and covered it up. 

Believe what you want, but they even have the date of the Block M being put down correctly 50 some years later.

931 S State

September 4th, 2010 at 12:33 AM ^

The way I understand it, Don Canham drew up the first "block M" on his kitchen table.  He was visionary to see the potential in the marketing of Michigan Football

I'm not sure when the Brass M was placed in the Diag...just don't step on that thing before your first bluebook.

Edit:  Nice work class of 1953.  Never noticed that when I stepped on that thing with pride every time i walked past it after bluebook #1