Michigan State football has chip on their shoulder, literally



Michigan State football bares a striking resemblance to the Chicago White Sox in that both programs identify themselves by having a consistent chip on their shoulder. Lots of sports franchises utilize this motivation, but Michigan State and the White Sox have the same exact chip- the “we come second in our region” chip.

For MSU, the incessant oppressor is the Michigan Wolverines football program. For the Sox, it’s the Chicago Cubs. In both cases that chip defines the fan base. And it transcends winning and losing. It’s all about attention and branding.


The White Sox won the World Series in 2005, the Cubs haven’t even been there since 1945. Michigan State football has been owning the Wolverines lately. However, the Cubs get all the attention in Chicago, and the BCS screwed over MSU twice, by undeservedly picking Michigan over the Spartans in 1999 and 2011.

Now that Michigan State football has surpassed Michigan and reached a higher plane, they’re competing with Ohio State. However, Ohio State is the defending national champion, and the Spartans haven’t won it all in the modern era. Even with the media’s unhealthy fixation on Jim Harbaugh, it’s Ohio State that provides the chip on the Spartans’ shoulder more so than Michigan in 2015.

The chip isn’t just figurative, it’s literal too.

MSU Offensive Tackle Jack Allen said at Big Ten Media Day that Michigan State football players have t-shirts featuring an actual poker chip with the Spartan head logo and the words “Michigan State Strength and Conditioning” on it.


Allen is a projected potential NFL first round draft pick, as his position group mate Jack Conklin, and I asked Allen why scouts might be so high on Conklin, and that’s how this topic came up.

“He’s another guy that has that chip on his shoulder in that no one believed in him when he was coming out of high school,” Allen said of Conklin.

Naturally, I followed up by asking if the proverbial chip on the shoulder is a program thing.

“Yeah I would say so,” he responded before describing the literal chip.

“Actually, we have to wear the same workout shirt for our lifts and there’s a chip printed on your shoulder.”


Quarterback Connor Cook used the phrase a few times himself today.

“We want to earn more, not be complacent, and fight complacency and continue to have that chip on our shoulder,” Cook said.

“If you have that chip on your shoulder good things will happen.”

Cook’s predecessor, Kirk Cousins, often espoused similar philosophies about having a chip on his shoulder when he made the Big Ten Media Day rounds in his day.

This year’s Michigan State football slogan is “Reach Higher.” In recent years, the mantra has been “P4RB: Prepare for Rose Bowl” and “Chase It.”


“Reach higher” obviously refers to going from a Big Ten title to a national title. MSU lost only two games last year- to Oregon and Ohio State, the two teams that played for a national title. They enter the season ranked #6 in the coaches poll. Ohio State is #1.

“The bar has been set, we’re getting to the bar, but we need to get those extra inches like last year and get a little farther,” said Allen.

Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State football has accomplished everything but a national title. They have all the blue chips to go all in with the big boys and win the big prize this season.

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and writes The Sports Bank.net, which is part of the FOX Sports Engage Network. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. He also appears regularly on numerous talk radio stations all across the country.

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