The day began with the following question: Is Michigan State a football school or a basketball school?
The response from the Spartans faithful and fans of other Big Ten squads has been tremendous.
National perception is what it is, but ultimately the identity of a program belongs to its fans.
The verdict on Michigan State? Most folks I heard from said MSU is a football school, but others advocated for hoops.
Here's a sampling of what you had to say ...
Lennon from Grand Rapids, Mich.: As someone who graduated (undergrad 03 and Law school) from State, has a dog named Sparty and got married on campus at the horticultural gardens, I can say to you that we are a football school. It may have to do with being able to see old friends and all of the pagentry that goes with college football Sundays but amongst people I know we would say football. Dont get me wrong Tom Izzo is the man (and should have a few buildings named after him shortly) and we love ouur bball team but we are not Duke, Kansas or even North Carolina. We travel well to final fours but when we get to that elusive Rose Bowl you will see why we are a football school (I think we would easily surpass the population of Pasadena for the week)
Dan from Denver: MSU is a basketball school that strives to be a football school. We follow football just as close as any other college but we have had to deal with Bobby Williams and JLS. It's easy to say we are a basketball school with all our history but we want to be competing with OSU every year for the big ten championship in football. (All while maintaining our successful basketball program of course)
Adam from East Lansing, Mich.: As a student at Michigan State, there is no doubt that MSU is a football school. The buzz around campus on a football saturday is nothing compared to what it is on a basketball gameday. Everyone knows when the football team is playing but I guarantee you 90% of the student body couldn't tell you when the next basketball game is. Think of it this way, Spartan Stadium has had sell out games pretty consistently through the Bobby Williams and John L. Smith eras, where when the basketball team struggles the seats aren't alway full. I'll tell you this though, Michigan State has a very underrated fan base as they are constantly in the top 15 for profit and top 25 in attendance for both sports. In fact in a recent poll by the Detroit Free Press, 34% of the state says they are Michigan fans while 33% say they are State fans. Not allot of people would believe this to be true.
Ben from Ann Arbor, Mich.: Despite being a UM student, I grew up in Lansing for the first eighteen years of my life and my twin brother studies engineering at MSU, so I know a little bit about the fan base. Don't let any Spartan tell you they are a football school. Basketball is in their blood. More Spartans will recognize the names of Jud Heathcote, Magic Johnson, and Mateen Cleaves before they know who Bubba Smith is. During the Bobby Williams and John L. Smith years, all you ever heard them say was, "wait until basketball season". With a relative down year in basketball for them and a great year in football, I expect nothing less for them to delude themselves and say they are a football school. Don't be fooled.
Greg from Lansing, Mich.: Is MSU a football or basketball school? Basketball. Definitely, unquestionably, unequivocally we are a basketball school. I love your blog and I love what you do for the Big Ten, but I missed your chat when this came up. I missed it because, probably like the vast majority of Spartan fans, I?ve been too busy obsessing over whether or not we're going to keep our tourney streak alive. I feel the responses you got were likely skewed. They probably came from the football diehards, considering that this is a Big Ten football blog. I love college football and we have a great tradition at Michigan State. Mark Dantonio is an excellent coach. But try to read When March Went Mad by Seth Davis and not get chills down your spine as an MSU fan. That game transformed college basketball. And since Izzo took over the Spartans have become synonymous with March. Our football tradition is just that, our football tradition. The reach we have in college basketball has become much bigger than that.
Steven from Belmont, Mich.: I graduated from MSU in 2000, we are a football school. Within the MSU community, we consider ourselves a football school with very fine basketball and hockey programs. Football attendance says it all. Depsite the intense malaise of the Bobby Williams and John L. Smith years MSU fans packed Spartan Stadium. We're in the top 20 every year in attendance and have been for what seems like forever. If we were not a football school, or at least if MSU fans and alums didn't consider ourselves a football school, State wouldn't be in the top 20 in football attendance. If State was just a basketball school, our attendance might look more like Indiana or Kentucky. Based on record our football program looks more like those two schools over the last 20 or so years. Yet we pull 70,000+ for just about every game year in and year out. IU can only dream of those numbers and Kentucky only pulls those numbers when they're decent or a big SEC team is in town.
Scott from East Lansing, Mich.: In response to the debate of whether Michigan State is football or basketball school, it is definitely a matter of perception. Personally, I perceive MSU to be a basketball school. If you look at previous success, the basketball team has been to 6 final fours in the last 12 years. We are also the only team in the country this year to be spotlighted on College Gameday more than once. (Although I'm sure looking back now, ESPN wishes they didn't schedule these games so far in advance.) It was mentioned that the football team is consistently in the top 25 in attendance rankings. They also rank in the top 25 in college stadium capacities. This is Big Ten country and when you have a university whose enrollment exceeds 45,000 it doesn't take much to fill those seats. Also, I've been to every home game in the last 3 years and there have been plenty of games where the stands were half empty by halftimeWith basketball, students camp out every year to get tickets. They endure an entire season in the worst seats of Breslin (the O-Zone) , just to have a chance to have lower bowl seats the following year.Even looking back in history, MSU takes the cake. Ask someone to name off a spartan athlete that played at least 30 years ago. I bet they spit out Magic Johnson.
Ben from Lansing: Adam,I probably have a unique view on this issue (MSU: Football school or basketball school?). I graduated from Penn State and am working on my doctorate and teaching at Michigan State. While I see an enthusiasm for the football team (and the fans are quite impressive in the stadium), I don't feel that same kind of excitement that I did in Happy Valley in weeks leading up to games. Students don't seem to discuss football as much before class, even in this year's title run. However, throughout the year, you could hear students talking about the power of the Izzone, wearing Final Four t-shirts, and counting down the days until basketball season. Of course, part of this likely has to do with the great success of the basketball team. If the football team continues to win consistently, I could see this changing. But coming from a school where football was unquestioned, I just don't see the same enthusiasm
Wayne from Minneapolis: Adam, I graduated from Michigan State in 2007. My freshman year was 2002 when MSU was coming off 3 straight Final Fours and a National Title in 2000. I grew up near Lansing and was in the marching and pep bands at MSU. I can say MSU is absolutely a football school. Not to say we aren't a basketball school. We are just good fans either way, but I judge by this barometer: Would a MSU fan rather see the basketball team or the football team win the Big Ten or National Title? I'd guess to say 80% or higher would say football. That may have to do with having recent success in basketball, but I think a large percentage of people would rather win in football which still tells this: MSU is a football school.
Megan from New York: Hi Adam,As a Spartan Alum (07) I've seen MSU football at it's worst. While my generation probably does see MSU as a basketball school first because of this, we never ceased to show up to the football games unless a boycott was in place. (the 2006 OSU games comes to mind) But, we are not Indiana. The disparity between our passion for football and basketball is very slim. And with our dedication to Hockey (2007 National Champions) and the recent sell-out of the woman's B1G championship teams game against Michigan, clearly our passion as fans exists more than just one sport. In 2005, the women were just as watched and cheered and rooted for as the men were throughout the Big Dance.I would classify the Spartans as not just a one sport school but an athletic school period. We eat, live, and breathe Spartan sports all year round, some sports with more intenstity than others depending on the person..Our fan turnout is always high no matter the sport...cause it's more about being a spartan fan than the sport itself. If our baseball team made the world series...I'd guarantee there would be a big contingency showing up there as well. The media tends to put more emphasis on basketball. Give Dantonio a few years more of success and MSU will be comparable to Wisc and Ohio State...fan fervor and media buzz outside of Spartan Nation both on the hardwood and the gridiron.