April 6th, 2018 at 10:09 PM ^


There are analogues to “Spartans Will” at pretty much every major university. “We Are Penn State” is one of the closest, both for its strident emptiness and its association with a sexual-abuse scandal that reached the upper levels of the institution. There’s also “Bear Down” at Arizona, which was trotted out after Sean Miller came under fire for possibly endorsing the payment of DeAndre Ayton. My own alma mater, the University of Michigan, constantly bombards students and alumni with “Leaders and Best.”


I don't know, is it really that heavily used?  "The Michigan Difference" might have been a better example. 



April 7th, 2018 at 11:00 AM ^

She's talking about the phrase "Leaders and Best" being used as a stand-alone slogan (or "brand") for the school, the way MSU uses "Spartans Will," Arizona "Bear Down" and PSU "We Are Penn State."  

It's been used in giving campaigns before, but I don't know that we use it to the degree of these other schools.  "Victors" and "the Michigan Difference" get a lot of use, too.




April 6th, 2018 at 10:45 PM ^

The Proud Spartan ethos also feeds writing from East Lansing columnist Graham Couch, who typically covers MSU’s coaches with a wide-eyed, hero-worshipping style that unwittingly betrays how well a coach like Tom Izzo understands the benefits of cultivating a strong relationship with reporters.

Graham Couch's writing....well, this was put so well that I thought it should be quoted. I mean, throughout history, it is the Couch-type people of the world who write your "Who Among Us Hasn't..." story even when the more unfortunate allegations start to rear their head. 


April 6th, 2018 at 10:56 PM ^

Personally, I don't think the cause of Michigan State's idiocy is loyalty towards college sports in general.

If universities fostered blind loyalty to defend the school, how do you explain the shaming and ouster of Dave Brandon?

Bando Calrissian

April 6th, 2018 at 11:52 PM ^

There were enough people with enough clout who couldn't stand the guy/had been personally and inexplicably wronged by DB, from donors to program insiders to faculty to staff, to have made that firing an inevitability. If anything, a championship football or basketball team could have made his ego and antics worse. (Heck, look at how he reacted to teams that won championships--tell them they had to do it again, then hold their coaches responsible if they didn't.)

Put another way, you couldn't walk 20 feet in the Crisler Lot on a gameday and not find another person who absolutely hated the guy, with different, usually personal/firsthand, and equally valid reasons behind it. Those are the people who are pathologically hard-wired to be on the AD's side. And their anger adds up.


April 7th, 2018 at 1:33 AM ^

He cut down one of the nets after one of our basketball titles (either the regional title in '13 or the Big Ten in '14, I forget which).

snarling wolverine

April 7th, 2018 at 11:38 AM ^

Speaking of which, I've never liked it how team owners are given the trophy first in American pro sports, making the players and coaches an afterthought.  

"Nice work by the men on the field, but let's make sure to recognize the real winner, this guy who watched the game in a luxury box!"




Bando Calrissian

April 6th, 2018 at 11:47 PM ^

I think she's got a point with the branding angle. We take the Block M for granted around here, but yes, it is a little weird. And I can't be the only one who felt skeezed out when Dave Brandon and Mary Sue Coleman went full-bore on the "brand guide" and all that stuff, turning the Block M into the symbol for everything at the university. Every department got a new, basically identical logo. The University Seal, the university's academic emblem, which had been used on a number of sports uniforms anyway, pretty much got phased out. It was as if the university's identity had fully given itself over to sports merchandising.

Unpopular opinion, but look at that style guide on the university website and tell me it isn't an uncomfortable read. Theisen hit it right on the money.


April 7th, 2018 at 3:54 AM ^

It isn’t an uncomfortable read.

It’s a frickin’ graphic art style guide so everybody knows what color to use and there aren’t 50 versions of the school logo floating around.

Now, those 235 people who all dress exactly the same in military derived outfits every Saturday in the fall... I dunno, seems pretty culty to me. An uncomfortable image.


April 7th, 2018 at 2:15 PM ^

Hey I love the band - too many of my best memories have the MMB as a soundtrack for it to be otherwise. But I bet they take looking uniform very seriously, as they should. Maintaining a consistent image is important, and a challenge across such a huge and varied organization as UofM.

You can criticize the aesthetic choices they made, and Dave Brandon certainly made his share of offensive, egotistical, “brand” betraying blunders. But criticizing a branding style guide, in the context of a thread about schools using loyalty to shut down scandals, as if unifying the look of the block M and using Spartans Will to cover up rape were even remotely on the same planet, is absurd.

Almost as absurd as criticizing the marching band for dressing the same. It’s called “reductio ad absurdum”, i.e. a rhetorical tactic. One particularly pointed at you, to be sure, but not “ad hominem”. That would be, exempli gratia, saying “Bando is a cantankerous bore”, but I would not do that, as it, unlike reductio ad absurdum, is universally a fallacy.


April 7th, 2018 at 12:50 AM ^

Am I the only one that had a problem with the alleged dual usage of "Will" in "Spartans Will?"  It can't stand as a noun in that phrase.  It would be a noun in "Spartan Will" or "Spartans’ Will," but it is unambiguously a verb in "Spartans Will."

I can't deny that it's been a successful hook for the university -- it's definitely been picked up as a rallying cry -- but I doubt anybody except the marketers is thinking of the noun sense of 'will.'


April 7th, 2018 at 3:46 AM ^

Incredible article.  Spot on.  Scary stuff.  Some very big lessons to be learned from this mess.  I think that politicians have been aware of this strategy for a long time.  I've just never seen it happen so blatently with my own eyes.  


April 7th, 2018 at 8:32 AM ^

It isn't just universities or sports teams; it's everything. Political parties, ideologies, hell; car companies. It's the NRA, Black Lives Matter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the government, the military, CNN, Fox News-

Honestly, I think it's a bit overblown because in a lot of ways pride in your alma mater and the community it represents is just fine and fair, but it's also a reminder that blind allegiance to anyone or anything of this earth is foolish and dangerous.

snarling wolverine

April 7th, 2018 at 6:21 PM ^

I understand the point she’s making but I feel like her argument strays. The connection between the Block M and colleges using slogans as a defensive measure is forced. It feels like she’s overcompensating as a U-M grad against allegations that she might be biased against State.