Over the years, Michigan State has had many jerseys in both basketball and football. As I was looking at them, I thought it would be cool to find my favorite uniforms. So, here and now, I am going to count down my Top 7 Favorite Spartan Jerseys.
7. Classic Spartan Football (1956-1963)
These are just classic football jerseys. They were green and white, normal Spartan colors, but very different from modern MSU jerseys. These jerseys were created because as Michigan State was becoming a premier program, they also got more TV exposure. Since TVs were not nearly as nice as our High-Definition TV sets we have now, Coach Duffy Daugherty had numbers put on the side of the helmets so the viewers could identify the players. These uniforms were ditched in 1964 after teams started putting names on the back of the uniforms and the names of colleges were being printed on the chest. Although these jerseys were very simple, you could never go wrong with a green uniform and a numbered helmet. These made the list at number seven because of the simplicity and nostalgia of old-time Spartan Football.
6. Back To Basics (2003-2006)
After at an attempt to create a completely new uniform for the football team in 2002 (which failed miserably), Michigan State decided to go back to the basics with simple uniforms reminiscent of the 1980’s jerseys. Instead of shoulder linings and complex striped helmets with a block “S” on them, the Spartans embraced simplicity and wore solid pants, solid jerseys, and simple green helmets with no stripe and a Spartan on them. They re-introduced the “Saban-Era” font for their chest logos from 2 years prior. These uniforms marked the first time since 1934 that Michigan State did not have a stripe on their helmet. This cracked the list at number six because the simplicity was very refreshing coming off the highly disliked 2002 season jerseys, and the Spartan logo on the helmet was very popular. The reason this jersey didn’t go higher on the list is because the jersey lacked player names above the numbers on the back, which angered fans (especially me).
5. Nike Pro Combat Uniforms (2011)
In July 2011, Nike announced it was going to create a special jersey for MSU, called “Nike Pro Combat”. Nike makes special jerseys for certain games for only a handful of teams (such as LSU, Ohio State, and Boise State) they have a contract with. Michigan State was scheduled to wear these jerseys against Michigan in October 2011. The purposes of these jerseys are to get the teams wearing them national exposure. It also helps with recruiting, so a team like Michigan State, on the rise, can get better recruits to improve their program. The jerseys Michigan State wore were more focused on the “Spartan” culture, as opposed to the “Michigan State” culture. Nike tried to capture the essence of a “Spartan”, straight out of Greece. To achieve this, they added bronze helmets and numbering, added a Greek phrase on the front of the helmet- “Molon Labe”- which translates to “Come and take them”. My personal favorite part of the uniforms, however, is the gloves. If you put your palms together while wearing the gloves, it makes a bronze Spartan, which looks awesome. The reason these great uniforms only made number five on my list is because they only wore them for one game, not for multiple seasons.
4. MSU Shadows (2010-Present)
No, this is not a jersey the alumni wear. I just think this name fits the current jerseys of the Michigan State basketball team. These uniforms rock because the font is the new font brought in by Nike, and they also added “Spartans” on the chest. But my favorite part of the jersey might be the shadows behind the player name and numbers on the back of the jersey. It’s an outline of the Beaumont Tower, which captures Spartan Pride and everything with it, which is pretty awesome. This is only number 4 on the list because it hasn’t made a big impression on the General Public. But it has so much on me that I put in the list.
3. The Original Spartan (1965-1966)
Although these uniforms were only worn for two seasons, they made possibly the largest and greatest impact in Spartan Football history. The 1965 season was the first time a Spartan ever showed up on a Michigan State football helmet. Although the Original Spartan has been modified and left the helmet multiple times, it has never left the Spartan culture and has surely made an impact on Spartan Football. Another thing about these uniforms that’s so significant is that in the 2 years that the Spartans wore this jersey, the team went a combined 19-1-1, with 2 national titles. During this time, Michigan State also had two future MSU Legends, Bubba Smith and Gene Washington. These two years were arguably the best two years in MSU football history, and they had this uniform to go along with it. This is not number one or number two because other than the Spartan helmet, there wasn’t too much significant about this jersey.
2. Spartan Pride (2010-Present)
At the same time the MSU Basketball team got new jerseys, the Football team did, too. These uniforms rock because this may be the best-colored green the Spartans have worn. Also, the white shoulders can be really cool, but if they don’t want them, they have the same jerseys with out the white shoulders. It’s also the new font, which is great. But I think the greatest thing about this uniform is the memories and the years that go along with it. Since the Spartans have put on these uniforms, they’ve had the best seasons in MSU Football history since winning National Championships in the 1960s, haven’t lost to Michigan, beat Wisconsin twice, made the inaugural Big Ten Championship, played 3 of the best games in College Football history (Little Giants vs. Notre Dame, Hail Mary vs. Wisconsin, and Triple OT Outback Bowl vs. Georgia), and had some of the greatest Spartan players that ever took the field. Players like BJ Cunningham, Kirk Cousins, Jerel Worthy, Greg Jones, and even Aaron Bates. When I think of these jerseys, I think of 10+ win seasons, stifling defense, and great finishes. These uniforms may have been number one if Michigan State wore them in a BCS game.
1. Elite Greek (1995-2000)
These uniforms were the greatest in MSU Spartan history. This jersey marked so many things in MSU Basketball History, and just to top it off, the jersey was awesome. The Greek pattern on the collar was and still is so unique, that they almost are a part of Spartan Basketball. These jerseys also had the arching “Michigan State” with “State” in larger letters underneath it in a very Spartan-esque font. The numbers also had that font, which looked great. These uniforms, however, are forever entwined with the MSU Spartans of 1995-2000. This was so significant because these years marked the beginning of Elite Spartan Basketball. The year they started wearing these uniforms was the same year Tom Izzo became head coach. Throughout the late 1990’s Izzo built this program into a powerhouse. In 2000, he topped it off by winning the NCAA National Championship with the likes of Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, and Charlie Bell. That next year the Spartans introduced new uniforms, but these uniforms worn during the greatest years of Spartan Basketball will live on forever.