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Why your mascot sucks: Michigan State

A nickname born out of controversy is now a swole bro mascot praying for no wind

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports



Way back in 1925, Michigan State University was known as Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science. Because it was an agricultural school, it was known as the ‘Aggies.’

As it moved away from its agricultural roots, the school held a contest to find its new nickname. However, the results proved to be quite stupid, as they settled on the Michigan Staters.

Apparently, the other submissions must have been really really bad…

However, the editor for the Lansing State Journal George S. Alderton thought the name was too cumbersome. He inserted himself into the competition with a little ol’ fashioned election tampering.

Alderton contacted the Information Services department at MSU and requested to see the list of entries. He then looked through them for something that was more heroic and settled on the “Spartans.”

When Alderton received game accounts from the catcher of the Michigan State baseball team, he rewrote them for his publication and referred to the school as the Spartan. He then convinced a rival newspaper, The Lansing Capital News, to do the same.

So much for journalistic integrity and being unbiased in your reporting…

”No student, alumnus or college official had called up the editor to complain about our audacity in giving the old school a new name, so we ventured into headlines with it.” Alderton said.

“Happily for the experiment, the name took. It began appearing in other newspapers and when the student publication used it, that clinched it.”

Can we do the same thing with elections, just refer to someone else as the winner and eventually no one will care and just go with it? Asking for a friend. (Editor’s note: it’s called the electoral college)

The new name quickly caught on and became the official school nickname, paving the way for Sparty. Sparty first debuted in 1955 as a papier-mâché Spartan head that was six feet tall and weighed more than 60 pounds.

The original Sparty was made by Donald Pais, Kenneth Roberts and Don Bauer, who were fraternity brothers at Theta Xi.

A fellow Theta Xi brother, Bill Clithero donned the mammoth Sparty creation at a pep rally, prior to a football game against Notre Dame.

Michigan State axed the mammoth Sparty head prior to the 1965 Rose Bowl Game and replaced it with a fiberglass version which weighed about half as much as the original head. In 1960, the student government assumed responsibility for the mascot, but there are no records dating from 1960-1981 to show who wore the mascot and for how many years the fiberglass version was in use.

The current version of Sparty began taking shape in 1985 when Chuck Webb, the MSU Alumni Association executive director, attended a conference. At the conference he saw a table tent of none other than… you guessed it, Bucky Badger.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Central Michigan at Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Webb brought a sample back with him to East Lansing and asked the association’s Graphic Designer, Dave Giordan to create a version of the table tent featuring Sparty.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

A few short years later in 1989, a group joined forces to design an updated version of Sparty, thus birthing the version of Sparty we know and… know today.

Michigan State bought space on six billboards around the city to announce his Spartan Stadium debut on Sept. 16, 1989.


Sparty is, well… you guessed it, a Spartan and certainly dresses the part.

He wears the appropriate Spartan battle gear; a helmet, ankle guards, breastplate and a skirt…

However, as someone who has seen “300” once, it makes me wonder where his red cape is.

He features a permanent uneasy look upon his face that is both welcoming and fearsome at the same time. It also looks like the face a man that is wearing a skirt and is in constant fear of a brisk wind…


Sparty is without a doubt, swole. In fact he was deemed the “buffest mascot,” by Muscle and Fitness Magazine, but while his muscles are undoubtedly large, it looks like they are anything but natural.

Looks like someone never saw the famed episode of “Dinosaurs,” Steroids to Heaven.

I know that it forever changed my views and steroids. Could you imagine getting spikes that stick out of your body?

I’m sure if Michigan or Central Michigan had mascots, they would be the Spike to Sparty’s Robbie and sit with him until the effects wear off.


Sparty has been crowned a national champion mascot three times by the Universal Cheer Association. It competes in a slew of other competitions including the NCAA Hall of Champions: Mascot Mania and the Capital One Mascot Challenge.

Sparty was nominated to join the mascot hall of fame in 2007 but was not voted in, unlike some mascots who are prominent members of the hall…

Zeke the Wonder Dog


Zeke the Wonder Dog is the stage name of a series of dogs that has entertained fans at Spartan Stadium since the 1970s with their ability to catch Frisbees.

Michigan State stopped using Zeke in 1984 and went dogless for 18 years. Luckily Zeke was brought back in 2002 when Dexter, a black lab took over.

During his run as Zeke, Dexter had a couple of surgeries. One surgery removed an abdominal blockage after he had eaten a substantial amount of carpet at home, and the other repaired a torn ACL.

If this were the NFL, he certainly would have been put on the PUP List…

Paws for laughter...

After Dexter’s retirement, Bou Cou took over until 2016, and Buckshot currently plays the role of Zeke.

OK, Zeke is awesome and such a good boy and makes Sparty way cooler than he is. However, Sparty still needs to lay off the juice, just like Robbie quit the thornoids…

Year of mascot suckery to date

Mascot Suck Index / Rankings

Suck Ranking University Mascot Mascot Suck Index
Suck Ranking University Mascot Mascot Suck Index
1 Kent State University Flash the Golden Eagle 90
2 Michigan State University Sparty 63
3 Northwestern University Willy the Wildcat 62
4 University of Michigan N/A 60
4 Central Michigan University N/A 60
4 University of Southern Florida Rocky the Bull 60
7 University of Wisconsin - Madison Buckingham U. Badger 0