31. July 2011 · 16 comments · Categories: 2011

This tweet from Jim Brandstatter’s iPhone caused a bit of a ruckus:

When is lying to your boss, to the NCAA heroic. Is it heroic to teach young men that wrong isn’t wrong unless you get caught? Gimme a break

He was of course reacting to Mark Dantonio’s statement at the Big Ten media days when he referred to his old pal Jim Tressel as a tragic hero.  Matt “BIG SEXY” Charboneau breaks it down here.  

I get Dantonio defending his little sweatervested buddy and of course I understand Brandstatter thumbing out his 140 character disapproval of those comments.  Whatever.  

In reacting to the twitter bomb, Dantonio claimed he didn’t know who Brandstatter was.  I’m guessing he does but if he doesn’t, he should.  Not because of Brandy’s longtime broadcasting career with the Lions and the Wolverines, but rather due to his deep family ties to East Lansing and the Spartan football program that date back to the 1930s.   Jim was born in EL and his father Art, Sr., and brother Art, Jr., each suited up for the Spartans.  More recently Jim’s nephew and Art Jr.’s son Brody skated for the Spartan hockey squad.

Art, Sr. had quite a career for the Spartans in the 1930s, earning All-American honors in 1936.  The elder Brandy is enshrined in MSU’s Hall of Fame and received consideration from ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg to be placed on the MSU football “Mount Rushmore”. 

Art, Sr. was a fullback on the group apparently known as “The Mighty Mites”.  (I say apparently because I don’t see reference to that name in the archived papers from that period, but I’ll look harder). 

Here are the Mites in formation in 1935 from The Tradition Continues, a very nice book on Spartan history given to me last season by Hondo Carpenter of Spartan Nation:


That’s Art second from the left.

winged If you look closely, you might notice that the charging Spartans are donning what appears to be a winged helmet with a block S on the front.  

And yes, you can do the math—Fritz Crisler wasn’t in Ann Arbor yet in 1935 and his winged helmet was still with him at Princeton.  

This site has a breakdown of the early days of the winged helmet design, citing early examples in Ohio, Indiana and yes, East Lansing, before Crisler made it famous in Ann Arbor.  [Ed. Note that reader guanxi isn’t sold on the sources for this site.]

Related:  Speaking of Coach Dantonio, I will see him next Saturday at the East Lansing JDRF Walk on the MSU Campus.  Will you be there?   Do you want to help and get your name on the MVictors jug?!  Do it, do it now.  (A huge thanks to everyone who’s already donated, spread the word or both!)


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  1. After watching the interview Dantonio’s reaction seems quite benign, imo. I was actually hoping for a little more redass out of Coach.


  2. The statement was laughable even without Brandstatter’s MSU connections. With this additional context, it’s clear that Dantonio was simply being an ass. What else is new?

  3. @DaBangStick
    He’ll snap one of these days. That heart-smart diet is brutal especially with all those assistant coaches crushing burgers and pizzas all around him

  4. Sparty and the Wings

    It’s interesting how someone can write history by making a webpage and watching his version of it spread. The owner of that site is a Spartan fan; he created it to spread the story that MSU used wing helmets before UM. (You can read it in his own words in this interview:
    http://www.uni-watch.com/2010/12/29/winging-it-helmet-history-reconsidered/ )

    He then posted links to his site in many places, including many Wikipedia pages. However, he has no credible source for that information. I know because I wasted far too much time editing the Winged Football Helmet article there, patiently waiting for him to provide a source for his claim (besides his own website).

    In the end, the best he found was the Bentley Library page which alludes to it but doesn’t make a precise statement (see about six paragraphs from the end):

    Since then I’ve come across this website which sells old-fashioned leather helmets. If they have their history right (it’s just a retail store), several schools used winged helmets, including LSU, KSU, and others used the three stripe pattern, including Florida, Purdue, Boise State, and more.

    Does anyone know the real history?

  5. UM vs. MSU in the Brandstatter eras…

    Art, Sr. 3-0 vs. UM
    Art, Jr. 3-0 vs. UM
    Jim 2-1 vs. MSU
    Brody ?? vs. UM hockey

  6. If you look at the other helmets in that photo, and consider the angle of the sun, that looks more like a shadow in that photo, and not wings.

  7. @Rasmus
    Well, in the full res photo I can tell you they are “wings”. But that was just the Spalding design – in this case, the wing with the single stripe up the middle. The Bentley describes the different flavors:

    Spalding marketed a number of helmet models that featured the “wing” design. The wing provided additional protective padding and helped bind the earpieces to the crown. The FH5 model was the only one featuring three straps running from front-to-back. One model featured a single strap running front-to-back and another running side-to-side. Other models had a one-piece crown. Michigan’s FH5 model came only in black and tan while those with a one-piece crown could be ordered in any school colors for an additional fee.

    Michigan State had adopted its version of a “winged helmet” several years earlier.

  8. I know the guy who has the Spartan site. Like this page it is good for people who like history. There were several teams that wore a winged style helmet before Michigan did. Indiana had a winged helmet in the early 30’s. As said above others had variations of a winged style helmet. Ohio State had one in 1930. I have almost every issue of Illustrated Football from the 1930’s. Other teams such as Tennessee wore wings. Texas had a winged helmet in the early 30’s. Most painted the different helmet styles.

    Indiana’s winged helmet was the same pattern as worn later by Michigan. The thing is, Michigan stuck with the design from 1938 to this day. But they were not the first to use it.

  9. Past Time sports is a nice site. I bought 2 leather helmets from them. The 1942 Ohio State red leather helmet and a an early 1930’s winged Buckeye helmet. They got it as close to the real thing as they could.

    But Past Time Sports has many inaccuracies in the helmets listed. Below is the winged Ohio State helmet on Sid Gillman and mine.




  10. Larry – Thanks for the info on the old helmets, but how about some full disclosure: Why the interest in Buckeye helmets?

    Also, IMHO, MVictors.com distinguishes itself from almost every other blog by doing its own excellent research and basing its claims on the facts. Such attention to accuracy may disqualify Greg from the title of “blogger”!

  11. @guanxi
    This might explain Larry’s interest in Buckeye helmets

    (Same Larry)

  12. Thanks and yes that is me. I actually have an interest in all teams helmets and all teams uniforms. I just love college football history and why I check this place out.

    In looking over old pictures I noted that when Michigan first used the wings that at least 1 helmet was different. Look at the ear pad area on the one helmet. It is not blue like others but maize. I will show a couple pictures so you can see the difference.


  13. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v478/Larrymb/3er-1.jpg


    Those are from the 1938 season. So maybe they tried a helmet or so painted that way before deciding. If Greg or anybody has better pictures I would like to see them. Or maybe the Michigan uniform history buff might know.

  14. One other thing about the Maize earpad on the helmet. This was the first game of the season vs Michigan State. First game with the winged helmets. I did not see any maize in later pictures. From my research.

  15. @guanxi
    Thanks for the link to Spartan Jerseys. The page’s theme is simple: Crisler didn’t invent the winged helmets that he is given credit for. It proves that many teams wore the winged helmets before Princeton & Michigan.

    I wanted to briefly respond to the comment about questionable sources. If you look in the footer of the page, I have cited all of the sources I used. One source is The Tradition Continues book that Greg praised in the article, another is the same yearbook that Larry provided the image of UM vs. MSU, both wearing the winged helmets. The rest of the sources are Bently Library, Georgetown Football History Website, etc.

    Please ensure that the entire article is backed up by reliable sources. If you can’t substantiate any of my research or if you think I missed a citation please email me.