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Football players gathering in the tunnel prior to a home game at Spartan Stadium
Football players gathering in the tunnel prior to a home game at Spartan Stadium
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MSU gives Pro Combat Helmets to players

The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that the Michigan State football players were given the Pro Combat Helmets as part of their bowl gift.

For the players, the helmet commemorates the dominating fashion in which the fourth straight victory over arch rival Michigan came. “It doesn’t happen every year, where you play in a game like that,” said sophomore linebacker Max Bullough. “For me, it’s exciting. That’s something you can hold onto forever, especially having the year we had.”

The university put the value of the helmets at $200, which is half of the bowl gift allotment by the NCAA. The remaining $200 will mostly be gift cards, which will be appreciated, but can’t be compared to the helmet. “That’s probably the most exciting gift,” said senior tight end Brian Linthicum. “Gift cards are gift cards. We get them every year. The helmet we thought we were getting right after the game. We got the gloves, jersey, everything but the helmet.”

Wide Receiver B.J. Cunningham said, “You’re going to put it up in a case, let your kids look at it. It’s an once-in-a-lifetime thing for MSU. It’s exciting to be a part of that, especially the senior class, beating (Michigan) for the fourth time.”

Nike Pro Combat Uniforms: In Pictures

This week Michigan State’s Nike Pro Combat Uniforms arrived in the football equipment room and MSU posted nine gorgeous photos of the new uniforms on its Twitter page:

The pictures reveal a few things about the helmet that was previously unknown. First, the helmet stripe does not go all the way back and attach itself the bottom of the helmet like it does in the current helmets. The stripe comes to a point about 2 inches above the back name strip. Second, the helmet is actually textured. I previously thought the texture was a look created by special paint, but it looks as if it’s rough to the touch.

Mark Dantonio mentioned in his weekly press conference that the players will try on the new uniforms to get used to the new shoes and make sure helmets fit correctly. This will also help to take some adrenaline out of putting them on before the rivalry game against Michigan. Dantonio mentioned that Cousins will practice throwing to receivers wearing a bronze helmet, instead of the usual green helmet that Michigan State Football players wear.

The players weren’t the only ones to get the new uniforms. At 12:01 a.m. Eastern on Monday the Pro Combat fan apparel went on sale. They can be purchased online from Michigan State, Campus Den or the Nike Store among several other retailers. If you’re local to East Lansing, Dick’s Sporting Goods and most of the bookstores are carrying the fan apparel as well. The items all have limited quantities and are selling out. If you’re looking for the shoes, they go on sale Oct. 14 at the Nike Store.

Review of Michigan State’s Nike Pro Combat Uniforms

The highly anticipated Pro Combat Uniforms were unveiled last Tuesday to sky-high expectations from Spartan Nation.

Before we get into my review, we all need to remind ourselves of two things.

  • First – it is an honor for the Michigan State football team to wear the Pro Combat Uniforms, with only the elite schools selected for the privilege to wear them.
  • Second – Michigan State football does not have tradition with a consistent uniform design. We need to stop comparing ourselves to Notre Dame and Alabama and start thinking of ourselves in the same league as Oregon.

The reaction to the design of Michigan State’s Pro Combat Uniforms has been mostly positive. Over 800 readers of Spartan Jerseys gave the uniforms an A grade, more than any other grade combined. The reaction of the players via twitter was an overwhelming support of the design and even Mark Dantonio mentioned that he liked them in his weekly press conference. It also doesn’t hurt that they were seen on Yahoo Sports, ESPN and Washington Post.

Two months ago, I speculated that the design would be a throwback uniform due to Mark Dantonio’s comments in the original announcement. In reality, the unveiled design is a hybrid between a throwback uniform with questionable color selections and, as Michigan State’s online columnist Steve Grinczel put it, a “homage to their ancient Greek warrior namesake.”

Because of this, the uniforms require a lot of explaining. For example, those outside Spartan Nation continue to mistake the bronze color for gold and are scratching their heads wondering what gold has to do with Michigan State. The fact that “gold” needs to be corrected in every national review of the uniforms proves my point.

If Nike’s designers made the jersey black and the pants bronze, they would have made a true throwback design, directly resembling the style worn in 1934-1946. It was during this era when Michigan State beat Michigan four consecutive years in a row for the first time in history – an accomplishment the Spartans are trying to do again this year.

Incorporating a true throwback with the King Leonidas’ influence would have made it easier to answer all the surrounding questions by being able to point to the uniforms worn in our football history and the history of the Greek Spartans. These two changes would make these uniforms the best design among the nine schools in this year’s Pro Combat Uniform class.

I asked my readers on Spartan Jerseys to grade the uniforms and I will do the same. I give the uniforms a strong B. Positives include the helmet design and the King Leonidas elements. Criticisms include the color of the jersey and pants, the overall darkness of the jersey (black writing on dark green), and the confusion caused by the bronze color people are continuing to mistake for gold.

What do you think? Grade the design of the uniforms and share your thoughts below.


2011 Michigan State Nike Pro Combat Uniforms Released

After almost two months of waiting, Nike officially unveiled the design of the Michigan State Pro Combat Uniforms this morning. Pictures of the highly anticipated uniforms can be found here and my full review found here.

What do you think? Grade the design of the uniforms and share your thoughts below.

#95 helmet decal honoring Bubba Smith to be worn for first three football games

Spartan Radio Network’s Adam Ruff is reporting that the Michigan State Football team will wear a #95 decal on their helmets honoring the late Bubba Smith who passed away at the beginning of August.

According to Ruff, the decal will be worn for the first three games of the season (Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, @Notre Dame).

Ruff does not reveal what the decal will look like, but I think it will look like the #44 decal the Michigan State Football team wore last season on the back of their helmet as a tribute to player Josh Rouse, who sustained a season-ending neck injury during the first game of the 2010 season.

This new decal worn for the first three games of the season, along with the Nike Pro Combat Uniforms to be worn against Michigan on Oct. 15, are the only style changes I know about for the 2011 Michigan State Football season.

Pro Combat Uniform mockup fools Detroit Free Press

The unveiling of the Michigan State Nike Pro Combat Uniforms is only two weeks away, but it hasn’t stopped the flood of mockups appearing all over the Internet.

One particular mockup created by “Plate of Shrimp,” a user on the Spartan Tailgate forums, gained particular notoriety.

Plate of Shrimp used the standard Nike Pro Combat Uniform Photoshop template and designed what he thought the upcoming uniforms would look like. As a joke, he put the Spartan Tailgate logo on the helmet.

It must have looked convincing, because the official Michigan State football booster organization, Downtown Coaches Club, sent out a mass email claiming the mockup as a leaked image of the uniform to be worn against Michigan on Oct. 15.

The Detroit Free Press went one step further and also reported online that the image was possibly the upcoming unreleased uniform. The article even made the print edition of the paper.

As you can expect, the Spartan Tailgate forums had a good laugh. If either the Downtown Coaches Club or the Free Press did a little research, or emailed me, it would have saved them the embarrassment of being fooled by a fake image.

Both the Downtown Coaches Club and the Detroit Free Press have since retracted their stories.

Speaking of the Nike Pro Combat Uniforms, Georgia uniforms were unveiled last week and Oregon and Boise State uniforms were unveiled last Thursday. In my opinion, they look sharp and this increases my expectations of the Michigan States Nike Pro Combat Uniforms. The uniforms released so far have an accompanied school colored Nike Shoe, which means Nike will be getting more of our money.

Spartan football team wore white jerseys, before they wore green

Game photos shared with me by a good friend of Spartan Jerseys brought an interesting piece of information to light. The Michigan State football team was wearing white away jerseys in 1939, where this custom originated. Coincidentally, this is one of the three jersey style eras I predicted the new Pro Combat Uniforms will be modeled after.

You may recall that the 1939 football team was under Head Coach Charlie Bachman, and it was during this time that Michigan State football had an identity crisis. Officially, the school colors were green and white, but in 1934 Bachman outfitted the Spartans in black and gold with winged helmets. Looking back, the Spartan football team looked like a mash up between Notre Dame and Michigan, except Michigan didn’t start wearing their winged helmets until four years later.

Photos shared with me by Larry Bodnovich show one particular season under Bachman’s reign when he got the school colors half right. It was the game at Michigan on October 7, 1939, the first away game of that season, when the Spartans ran out onto the field wearing white away jerseys. A white away jersey has been worn for away games ever since.

As far as football is concerned, Michigan State wore white, before they wore green.

Speculation on the Michigan State Football Nike Pro Combat Uniform

Since the release of Nike’s Pro Combat Uniforms in 2008, fans have wondered when, or if, the Michigan State football team would suit up in them. Our relationship with Nike has become more intimate due to the two-year rebranding partnership. During this rebranding period, the new football jerseys have contained some cuts similar to Pro Combat, but are not true Pro Combat Uniforms. Fans were teased by Nike when the Spartans ran out on the field wearing the Vapor Jet Premium LE gloves during the disaster of a bowl game vs. Alabama, but the team still has yet to wear Pro Combat Uniforms.

Michigan State’s moment has finally arrived. Nike announced on Wednesday that Michigan State will be wearing Pro Combat Uniforms for our rivalry game against Michigan. This is great news all around. Pro Combat Uniforms are generally reserved for the elite teams of college football. This announcement should help our recruiting because future players love to wear the latest and greatest uniforms Nike has to offer.

The press release detailed when Michigan State will be wearing them and what other teams will be wearing them, but it didn’t divulge what the uniforms will actually look like. Let the speculation begin…

Mark Dantonio is quoted in the press release saying, “Nike has done a remarkable job of creating a uniform that clearly speaks to the Spartan football tradition with a modern-day look and feel.” Which tells me, these will be throwback jerseys and not a modern design featuring the New Michigan State Logo that was shelved.

In my opinion, there are three possible football periods the Pro Combat Uniform design could be inspired by:

  • 1947 – 1955: Green helmets with single white stripe, green jerseys with three stripes on the sleeves, and white pants with a single stripe.
  • 1965 – 1966: Green helmets with the Original Spartan Head Logo, green jerseys with “MICHIGAN STATE,” and white pants with a single stripe.
  • 1934 – 1946: Gold winged helmets, black jerseys with gold numbers and gold pants.

1947 – 1955 is the most likely choice. This is the time period Michigan State won three National Championships, which definitely fits the “football tradition” Dantonio mentioned. This style is also the basis for all future Michigan State jerseys (green helmet with white stripe, green jersey with white numbers, and white pants with stripe).

1965 – 1966 is the more obvious choice, however we have already brought this design back with our throwback jerseys worn in 2006 vs. Notre Dame, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the “Game of the Century” (sorry to remind you of this game). This is the “classic” Michigan State style. It also fits the “football tradition” Dantonio mentions because we won back-to-back National Championships during this period. The green helmet contained the Original Spartan Head Logo with a white stripe, and the jerseys had “MICHIGAN STATE” on them.

1934 – 1946 is an outside shot since Michigan State wore black and gold during this time, not the school colors of green and white. However, this is the period that Michigan State football became competitive. Head Coach Charlie Bachman beat Michigan four times in a row (1934 – 1937). Dantonio is trying to join this elite club of coaches beating Michigan a number of consecutive times and it includes Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty, as well. This would also be an opportunity to showcase that Michigan State wore the winged helmet one year before Princeton and four years before Michigan. Even though we wore it before them, the winged helmet is owned by Michigan. Too much explaining of the winged helmet would be needed and if we didn’t pull it off right, the casual viewer of the game would think we are just copying Michigan’s winged. Just as this period’s uniform design has an outside shot of being chosen, so does losing to Michigan on Oct 15. What if we lost to them wearing winged helmets? It would be 2002 all over again.

I expect to see the Michigan State football team run out on the field on October 15 wearing Pro Combat Uniforms modeled from the 1947 – 1955 period. Michigan is also expected to wear special uniforms during the game. Maybe their bumble bee style? And that’s all I am going to write about Michigan, as I only care about the Spartans.

Whatever style Nike and Michigan State come up with, I guarantee it will be a hit with Michigan State fans. This is a prime opportunity for the football program. Creating the most high-tech uniforms based on Michigan State’s storied tradition is a recipe for success for both Nike and Michigan State.

What do you think? Vote for the period you think the Pro Combat Uniforms will be based off of below and comment on the speculation.


Nike Pro Combat coming to Michigan State Football

MSU posted the below press release confirming rumors that Pro Combat Uniforms were coming to Michigan State. My thoughts.

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MSU will don newly designed Nike Pro Combat uniforms against Michigan on Oct. 15.

July 20, 2011

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Before their fight songs ring throughout the stadiums and they storm the fields, nine of the top college football programs will lace their cleats and buckle their chin straps while donning uniquely designed, highly advanced Nike uniforms for at least one game during the 2011-12 season.

The fully integrated uniform system, which Oregon debuted during the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, incorporates the latest in performance innovation and design from the world’s most renowned athletic outfitter. The redesigned base layer facilitates the uniform’s overall innovation, delivering the ultimate in lightweight protection for maximum speed. Strategically placed seams, pads and cooling zones also help minimize distraction and optimize protective coverage.

“Nike takes pride in giving athletes an advantage by providing them with cutting edge innovation. The Nike Pro Combat system of dress uniform delivers unparalleled on-field performance benefits while inspiring the team through each uniform’s unique design,” Nike’s Creative Director for Football Todd Van Horne said. “It is a privilege to collaborate with the coaches and student-athletes to develop a look that’s truly distinctive to each university and their teams.”

The teams selected to sport the 2011 Nike Pro Combat system of dress uniforms include Army, Boise State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan State, Navy, Ohio State, Oregon and Stanford.

While each school’s uniform delivers the same superior lightweight performance and protection, each will tell a different story through its design. Nike worked closely with each university to bring relevant elements of the school’s rich heritage into a distinguished, modern uniform design. The uniforms capture each team’s unique character.

“Nike has provided Michigan State with a tremendous opportunity to participate in the Nike Pro Combat system of dress,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Our student-athletes are very excited about being involved in this unique experience. Nike is renowned worldwide for its innovative technology. Like Nike, Michigan State is proud of its championship football heritage. Nike has done a remarkable job of creating a uniform that clearly speaks to the Spartan football tradition with a modern-day look and feel. Our team is looking forward to representing Michigan State and Nike on October 15 against Michigan.”

The integrated uniform system provides enhanced durability and innovation from the inside out. Robust padding without the bulk offers optimal low-profile impact protection specifically throughout the crucial “hit zone” between the knees and shoulders. Nike Pro Combat Deflex padding has also been integrated in the hip and knee areas of the pant for crucial impact protection that stays in place. The base layer now features customizable protection, incorporating a thin, incredibly strong carbon fiber plate that can be placed on the thigh padding where needed.

The uniform system design also emphasizes improved thermoregulation, including the Nike Pro Combat Deflex padding layer, which is constructed with fabric selected for its ability to help keep the body cool and wick away sweat – making the uniform, and player, lighter and dryer. The jerseys are made of four-way stretch woven twill that sheds moisture. A Flywire collar eliminates two layers of fabric for improved breathability, providing a more stable anchor to keep the jersey in place.

The uniforms will hit the field on opening day of the 2011-12 college football season and throughout the year during some of fiercest rivalries in college football. Dates include: Sept. 3 Oregon vs. LSU at Cowboys Stadium, Sept. 3 Boise State vs. Georgia at the Georgia Dome, Oct. 15 Michigan State vs. Michigan, Oct. 22 LSU vs. Auburn, Oct. 29 Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, Nov. 27 Stanford vs. Notre Dame and the annual service academy bragging rights matchup between two of the nation’s most prestigious football programs – Dec. 10 Army vs. Navy.

Photography Credits: Masthead image is courtesy of MSU Athletic Communications. Spartan Jerseys claims no ownership to this image.

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