Thursday, September 29, 2011


This is a rant.  This is a rant that will likely be preaching to the choir, but I'm sorry, I must.

The above image is taken from the Michigan Athletic Department's "This Week in Michigan Football" email that I, like I am sure many of you, received today.

Let's look at the flaws inherent in this marketing strategy:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seal Block Week 5: The Pac-12, where "Let your light so shine" could not be more aptly applied

Instead of introducing the Pac-12 seal ranking, I’d like to take a moment to pontificate on the break-up/retirement of R.E.M. In my role as Mid-Maryland correspondent, I need to point out that the lyrics of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” are problematic. Specifically, the couplet “You’ll wind up in some factory that’s full time filth and nowhere left to go/Walk home to an empty house sit around all by yourself.” That is unlikely to happen in Rockville. As the primary manufacturing industries in Rockville are biotech, their factories had better be full time clean, without even a speck of filth. Furthermore, if the object of Mike Mills’s desire was able to afford a house in Rockville close enough to public transportation that she could walk home to it, she would have sufficient wealth to be able to easily attract men should she desire them. If you wish to criticize Rockville, its horrible traffic and overly expensive real estate are the main things you should fit into your couplet.

This is the sort of nerdy analysis that would happen at a lot of Pac-12 schools. Probably not the school at #12 though.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Know of Foe: University of Ontario Institute of Technology

So if you’re excited for Michigan hockey season (and you damn well should be), you may be wondering if there’s some misprint regarding the first exhibition opponent. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology? Is that some kind of bad Russian or Chinese mistranslation? No. UOIT is a real school with a horrible name. With apologies to the M-Zone, we provide a “Know of Foe” for North America’s leading institute of higher misuse of prepositions.

You owe it to yourself to read this informative, entertaining, and otherwise pun-free post.

Although UOIT was founded in 2002, the story of its origin goes back to 1921, when the province on Ontario established a Grade 13. In 1984, Grade 13 became known as “Ontario Academic Credit” (OAC). Think of Grade 13/OAC as the equivalent of Advanced Placement courses - originally, by taking these courses, students would receive university credit. Of course, over time, Grade 13 became mandatory for getting into university instead of merely helpful. This is the same trajectory you can see in the US with AP.

The Hunt for Dread October

The Hunt for Red October may be this blog's favorite movie, certainly Top Five.  I know that Geoff and I can exchange lines from the movie as stock in trade currency, particularly for Michigan football.  While I should be writing up the San Diego State game, I'm looking forward with equal amounts hope and fear.

"Ryan, turn the wheel until the rushing yardage here reads 3-1-5."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seal Block Week 4: We're Not in Kansas Anymore

The hardest part of this week's ranking of the Big XII seals was keeping track of which schools are in the Big XII. My most shocking discovery was that this blog has never used an "mst3k" label before.

10. Iowa State
What it's trying to say: The dog ate our original seal.
What it's actually saying: We just didn't give a fuck.

Looks like Kay didn't do so well in her graphic design course.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

First Time for Everything

Fair warning: I am going hard core Dadblogging for this entire column.  If you skip it, I would not blame you in the least.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Embracing the Legends

"You know it's just Dave Brandon's way of getting us to like the name of the division, right?"
--My lovely wife on Sunday when discussing the new Michigan Football Legends honor.

A list, in no particular order, of my thoughts the new Michigan Football Legends program, honor, designation.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seal Block Week 3: Hot Chicks Rule the SEC

As we investigate the officials seals of each conference, we should maintain conference rankings. Due to the sheer WTF-ery at the bottom of the B1G, the ACC is currently in first place, with the B1G in second. This week we tackle the SEC. Due to their superior conference speed, I am filing this report from the Canadian Rockies. Even if SEC partisans are filled with rage, I think their speed will fade by the time they get to Alberta, and they also won't be able to bring their guns with them. As we rank the SEC seals, we're going to set some rules as to what makes a good seal and a good graphic identify in the Internet era.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Artificial Constructs

This is the piece that I should have put together in the wake of the UTL game.  I regret mildly that I thought throwing something together quickly, in the afterglow, was a better idea than taking time to  actually assemble the larger theme that struck me.  I suppose the great thing about blogging is, you get second chances if you want them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Seal Block Week 2: The ACC, Where whoredom reigns, but not in Maryland

Hi everybody. After years of being “HSR Correspondent Dave” and e-mailing Craig et al. whenever I thought of something funny, I have been promoted to “HSR Contributor Dave.” Yay me! As I am currently located at the intersection of Penn State’s, West Virginia’s, Virginia Tech’s, and Maryland’s fan bases, my official title now is “Mid-Maryland Contributor Dave.”

After last week’s experiment in ranking the Big Ten schools’ official seals, I’ve decided to make this a season long activity and evaluate the official seals of each FBS team in turn. This week, we take a look at the seals in my current backyard, the ACC. I was going to post this tomorrow night, but for some reason last night ACC graphic design suddenly became a big deal.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Get Back

[Author's note: This column was written under the influence of muscle relaxers and pain killers.  While some authors are inspired to greatness by altered states, I am not.  This is the best it's going to get for this week.  Sorry.]

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Seals of the B1G: The Results Show

And now, HSR Beltway-ish Correspondent David T. with the results of the Seals of the B1G contest.

12. Ohio State (223 points, mean 3.98, sd 2.13)
What it's trying to say: ???
What it's actually saying: We need remedial drawing lessons.

I finally understand where THE Ohio State University's obsession with the the comes from. Four B1G universities include "The" in their seals, and only OSU sets it apart by using small capitals. They could have just modified the seal instead of saying "THE" every chance they get.

Voter DEK notes: "It's hard to read, is their slogan now 'Discipline is lacking'?"

11. Purdue [5 first-place votes] (256 points, mean 4.57, sd 4.64)
What it's trying to say: We have a modern spin on the idea of the university seal!
What it's actually saying: We developed our modern spin in 1969, so we were taking a lot of drugs when we designed it.

Purdue engineers know their non-Gaussian statistics and thus aren't surprised to see that the standard deviation of their logo's popularity is greater than its mean. About 1/4 of you loved the modern take, but about 1/2 you hated hated hated this seal. In case you're wondering, that's supposed to be a griffin holding a shield.

10. Wisconsin [1] (261 points, mean 4.66, sd 3.30)
What it's trying to say: Our eyes are always open for new knowledge.
What it's actually saying: We must keep Purdue from reaching Mt. Doom and destroying the One Ring.

I had never seen Wisconsin's seal before running the poll. Now I can't unsee it. And I'm afraid it can't unsee me too. The one-first place vote came from Greg S., offering further evidence for my theory that he is actually the Witch-King on Angmar. MLR wants to know if it was designed by a Hall & Oates fan.

9. Nebraska [1] (297 points, mean 5.30, sd 2.99)
What it's trying to say: Look at all the cool stuff we do here!
What it's actually saying: We couldn't think of one symbol that says "university," so we included all of them.

AFLAC trivia question for the first Nebraska-Purdue game: What B1G school's official seal contains a train? Matt Millen will be shocked to learn the answer is Nebraska.

The Nebraska seal is lame in the way that most ads for universities are lame. Instead of focusing on one or two elements to symbolize the university, they crammed everything onto the seal and hoped it worked. Which it didn't.

Voter Emily: "As Coco Chanel once said, a seal should look in the mirror before leaving the house and take one thing off."

8. Minnesota (301 points, mean 5.38, sd 2.09)
What it's trying to say: We've got ALL the arts: science, painting, industry, and woodworking.
What it's actually saying: We don't so much have a seal as we have a scroll that our regents stuck on a wall somewhere.

While voters were really split about Purdue, just about everyone agreed Minnesota (or at least its regents) had the 8th best seal in B1G, with almost 40% of votes putting it 8th place. DEK: "Minnesota's seal, when decrypted, is a map to his Lucky Charms."

7. Indiana [1] (352 points, mean 6.29, sd 3.29)
What it's trying to say: We speak Latin!
What it's actually saying: We don't care much for font design!

Greg S. noted that Indiana has the words "Lux et Veritas" floating around  a book, when they just as easily could have been written in the book itself. @jwschultz writes "Indiana: I'd be proud if you were like a 3-year old university." Voters would have like the seal better if it used a more classical font.

6. Michigan State [6] (379 points, mean 6.77, sd 4.29)
What it's trying to say: We have many lovely buildings on a verdant campus.
What it's actually saying: We have at least one building on a campus that's verdant because our seal is green.

Lots of love/hate on the MSU seal. On the one hand, it's pretty enough. On the other hand, it says nothing about the university other than "Look! A building!" ecormany liked the "great use of Verdana," perhaps sarcastically.

5. Illinois (406 points, mean 7.25, sd 2.49)
What it's trying to say: We have strong agricultural roots and are hardworking Midwestern folk.
What it's actually saying: Our books glow for some reason. (possibly involving Peter Graves)

No university in B1G has a bigger contrast between what it's like today and what its seal claims it's like than Illinois. It's a high-tech university, the place where both HAL and Dippin' Dots were created, but the seal holds fast to its 19th century agrarian roots.

@jwschultz: "Illinois, we are serious about learning and we have dead languages on our emblems. We make up fake Latinized names for our states and we put serious Latin words on the pages of the books in our Seals. You don't get to split "AGRICULTURE" onto two lines; go find a word like "ILLUMINATIO" and you may split it as often as needed."

4. Iowa [1] (408 points, mean 7.29, sd 2.60)
What it's trying to say: We have a hawk. With a bow and arrow. That kicks ass.
What it's actually saying: It's really important you know the exact date we were organized. Unfortunately we didn't keep record of the time.

They didn't have to try very hard to have a better seal than IowaState. Dan TrueBlue says it looks like it belongs more on a dollar bill while Greg S. called it a "rejected tails coin design." Most people seemed to like the clean design.

3. Northwestern [3] (453 points, mean 7.29, sd 2.92)
What it's trying to say: We speak Greek! And Latin! and English!
What it's actually saying: We couldn't decide on a motto. Also, ask about our Sanskrit motto contest.

With three concentric circles of names of mottoes, Northwestern should have 6 official seals for each possible permutation of English, Greek, and Latin. It would be awesome to see Universitas Caurensis or Argestes. As an engineer, I'm fond of our forefather Vitrivius and his northwestern wind names.

2. Penn State [6] (531 points, mean 9.48, sd 3.45)
What it's trying to say: We are a university in the state of Pennsylvania.
What it's actually saying: We were too lazy to come up with our own seal, so we just used the state's.

Nick called the PSU seal "classy" for looking like an actual seal used to actually seal letters in wax. Pennsylvania native DEK was livid that PSU just ripped off the state's official seal - although borrowing the state's official seal can produce some unusual designs, e.g., LSU.

1. Michigan [32] (669 points, mean 11.95, sd 3.73)
What it's trying to say: Lamp of learning, check. Book, check. Rays of light, check. Arts, check. Science, check, Truth, check. That's all you'll ever need in a seal!
What it's actually saying: We're Michigan. We don't need to do anything original to win.

Michigan won this contest for two reasons: 1) This is a Michigan blog. 2) Michigan's graphic identity people were the only ones smart enough to make sure the highest-quality version of the seal got put on Wikipedia.

Bo & Lloyd must like the seal. It's the "three yards & a cloud of dust" of design. The worst thing about it is that you could change the name and colors and it would work for any reputable university.

MVictors linked to the history of the Michigan seal:

Many thanks to David for putting this together and thanks to all of you who voted.  We may do another of these in the future, so we're open to suggestions.