How the M-over-S sign came to Dudy Noble

The night before Mississippi State kicked off its season at Dudy Noble Field in February, a few thousand gathered in the stadium for a celebration of the journey starting the very next day.

unnamed-1While there, the crowd was treated to a baseball version of lighting the Christmas tree, as the newest part of Bulldog baseball was unveiled and lit up for the very first time. Standing on top of the scoreboard in right field is a giant version of the Diamond Dawgs’ logo, the M-over-S, MSU’s most famous and unique symbol, exclusive to those who play within the confines of Polk-Dement Stadium.

Several additions and cosmetic upgrades have been made to the stadium since the Bulldogs returned from the College World Series back in May, but none are so symbolic, naturally, as this symbol, nor are any as big and obvious as this giant sign standing higher than all but the light poles, shining brighter than the moon rising behind it every night.

“That was really important to me,” head coach John Cohen said. “Our athletic director Scott Stricklin, who I think has tremendous vision, uses a word I don’t use enough: branding. I thought a lot about our brand, and our brand is that M-over-S.”

Anywhere he goes, Cohen said, people recognize their logo, the emblem unique to Mississippi State baseball.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “You can be in Seattle, New York – somebody’s gonna walk up to you and they know what that M-over-S stands for. That’s pretty neat, to know that Will Clark wore that M-over-S. Rafael Palmeiro wore that M-over-S and Buck Showalter wore that M-over-S, and on and on and on. It’s important.”

ZBGXVZDBBSFKVHP.20130320030307And it was Cohen himself who had the idea for the big, bright sign, according to Stricklin. When head coach came to athletic director with the proposition, the first thing Stricklin asked, naturally, was “how much will it cost?”

Cohen told him, then followed up by saying he had money in his budget to pay for it himself. It was that important to him.

Stricklin responded, “If you can handle it, sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it.”

And so the designs were done and the order placed.

“I told our players,” Cohen later said, “we could spend that money in other areas, but that the staying power of that and the significance of it, to me, is important.”

A hefty chunk of that significance, beyond its seemingly-universal recognition, is the exclusivity of M-over-S to the MSU baseball program.

Though all it technically stands for, obviously, is “Mississippi State,” with nothing specifically tying it baseball, no other sport on campus uses it. Never have, and they never will, so says Stricklin.

“I tell our baseball guys at the beginning of every year,” Stricklin said, “that logo is special because they’re the only sport on our campus that gets to have a unique logo. They get to do that because the people who came before in that program won to the level where that logo became synonymous with our baseball program.”

mississippi-state-jonathan-holder-061513Part of what makes the M-over-S so unique, in Stricklin’s eyes, is the way it grew into such a specific symbol. Any of the standard M-State logos could mean football, academics, tennis, softball or golf. They represent everyone. The M-over-S became the only emblem to be so unique and so specific in meaning.

“We don’t want to take that away because it has too much equity,” Stricklin said. “We also don’t want to put it on the other sports because it’s unique to baseball. When people see that, they may not think Mississippi State University, but they definitely think Mississippi State baseball. There are just very few marks and logos that don’t just speak to a university, they speak to a specific sport at a university.”

Like both Stricklin and Cohen said, it became a brand. Cohen compared it to a visit he took to Yankee Stadium and the famous N-Y symbol, which he says might be branded better than any he’s ever seen.

With history intact and sign erected, Cohen hopes the future can see the M-over-S as a similar symbol for Mississippi State baseball.

“It’s important,” he said. “It’s kind of a big branding piece, but it’s really important for us to brand our program that way. It was really important to me and our players.”

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6 Responses to How the M-over-S sign came to Dudy Noble

  1. cindy says:

    “A hefty chunk of that significance, beyond its seemingly-universal recognition, is the exclusivity of M-over-S to the MSU baseball program.”
    Somebody needs to tell that to St. Michael’s Catholic school in Austin. They’ve been using this exact logo for years. I reported it to someone in the MSU athletic dept a while ago and got no response.

  2. Rogers says:

    I looked up that website and read about it. It was founded in 1984.

    “The student athletes of the Crusader Nation belong to a long tradition of excellence and achievement. Since SMCA’s 1984 founding, ”

    Go back and look at MSU pictures of Clark and Palmiero as freshman and sophomores (1983) and they are wearing the M over S logo.

  3. Rogers says:

    Sorry Cindy –
    My first read of your post made me think we had copied it from them. Sorry.

  4. Bill Seale says:

    unless it is a registered trademark then there is nothing the department can do. Right now the only one I know that is a registered trademark is the MSU baseball logo of Bully swinging the bat.

  5. Hobie Dawg says:

    Just when I think the place can’t get any more special…. Y’all go and prove me wrong! I love it! I think MSU baseball should auction off the baseball clock to pay for the M over the S sign. How cool would it be to have that clock in a sports bar or your man cave?

  6. cindy says:

    Now that I looked back through my email, back then (about 2 yrs ago) I consulted a friend on the Bulldog Club board about it – and he said that MSU does not license its logo for use by high schools. I emailed MSU General Counsel, but got an out of office reply. I guess it never got addressed after that.
    I found another person with MSU General Counsel to email, and she said they will definitely be checking into it. If I hadn’t seen this blog, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it again.

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