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Better Know a B1G Blog: The Only Colors, for all things Michigan State!

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Kyle Thele of Michigan State blog The Only Colors stops by to talk balancing the fun with the serious in East Lansing.

Have you been enjoying Michigan State Week? Good! Stick around for the rest of our B1G 2019 conference preview features.

One feature we’re adding this summer is “Better Know a B1G Blog,” wherein we get a chance to hear from the various schools’ own bloggers about what makes their site, their school, and their fans unique in both the Big Ten and the college football landscape. Check out our pieces with Rutgers’ On the Banks, Illinois’ The Champaign Room, Nebraska’s Corn Nation, Maryland’s Testudo Times, Purdue’s Hammer and Rails, and Minnesota’s The Daily Gopher.

After asking what the Spartans need to do on offense to help their galaxy-class defense—it doesn’t seem like a staff shake-up was really the answer—and picking how the Spartans will finish in 2019, it only seems fair to check our work with the people do this on the regular.

To that end, we’re indebted to our colleague Kyle Thele, manager at SBNation’s Michigan State blog, The Only Colors, for taking the time to chat with us. Give Kyle and TOC a follow on Twitter!

OTE: Tell us about The Only Colors: Your origin story, any particular in-jokes or memes we should be aware of, or any other Michigan State-specific quirks we should know about when we pop over to read an article!

The origin of The Only Colors is a sad one. It all started late one night when we were just a young blog out to see an opera with our billionaire blog parents. A mugger attacked and killed our blog parents and we were raised by our blog butler Alfred.

Wait, I think I’m getting my stories confused...

No, that’s right.

The most important thing to know about TOC is our Twitter account is super serious. We have zero fun and things are to be taken as literal as possible. There are a few lasting memes that should have a bit of a shelf-life. The most recent is Cassius Winston celebrating the win over Duke in the Elite Eight. The other one is a little older but st... Whoa he has trouble with the snap! And the ball is free. It’s picked up by Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson.

Sorry I got lost there for a second, what were we talking about?

Also, this is unrelated to anything coming from a written blog, but guys, it’s pronounced pah-na-shuke (like juke)!

OTE: Give us an idea of what kind of #content you think exemplifies the qualities of The Only Colors. What’s been your favorite writing assignment or experience for TOC, and how have you guys worked through some of the more contentious and touchier subjects at State as of late? (Feel free to include links to articles!)

One of the things I’m proudest of with The Only Colors is our ability to both cover the silliness of college athletics and have some fun with the fans (even if it’s at the expense of MSU) along with never being afraid of taking on the more serious side of covering a university.

I’m especially happy with the way we cover games. Every week we have writers breaking down game film from the previous week and analyzing how it will play a role in the next week. And our post-game coverage rivals just about any major publication covering the team.

We also have a guy from Germany (Germany!) who writes longform profile articles, which is pretty cool.

OTE: A phrase leveled at OTE and various team-specific sites is that they became an “echo chamber” for fans. Do you think that’s true of TOC or Michigan State fandom? What’s one stereotype about the TOC commentariat and Spartan fanbase that Big Ten fans as a whole get wrong? What kind of community has TOC created?

One of the biggest compliments I can think to give to any news outlet is everyone on the outside feels like you’re biased, no matter what perspective they come from. Like any blog, we get accused of being homers by plenty of fans from opposing schools. But in a perfect balance, there are more than a few MSU fans that are convinced everyone at TOC actually hates every player in green and white.

I do believe that we have created a community that is pretty honest with itself. You don’t survive the John L. Smith era without knowing exactly what a bad football team looks like and when things are much worse than what the team would hope. With that being said, there has been a lot of success over the last decade in East Lansing, and I think TOC has done a great job of holding the basketball and football programs to a higher standard.

OTE: We’ve been going with Ennui Week for Michigan State in 2019. But your mileage, surely, will vary! What are you most excited about for the Spartans’ 2019 season? For the uninitiated fan of another Big Ten school, what are the storylines surrounding your program? Where do you see Michigan State in the pantheon of Big Ten football going into 2019, particularly the Big Ten East?

I wouldn’t call it ennui, more of a fear of high expectations. Two of the last three years saw the fan base get a swift punch to the gut during football season. So similar to heading into the 2017 season, I think fans are just nervous.

I think the thing to be most excited about heading into 2019 is experience. For the first time in four years, it feels like almost all the big keys of last year’s team has returned. They lost some big names, but most of those players missed almost all of last year with injuries, so the new players already have plenty of experience. Speaking of injuries, there is no way they can lose as many key players as they did last year, right? Watching Brian Lewerke, who will almost certainly start the year as the starting quarterback again, will be important. He is going to be the key to getting the MSU offense to a point of at least scoring 10 points (looking at you Nebraska game). The defense should be as dominant as last year, which is scary.

It’s hard for me to say that they should be ahead of Penn State, Michigan or Ohio State, but there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be in the conversation with that group. While I’ve been told there are “good” teams in the other division, I’ve yet to be shown any proof of life that is of importance.

OTE: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Anything else--tailgating advice, East Lansing bars to visit, local food or beer, etc.--we should know about Michigan State and The Only Colors?

East Lansing is a wild ride, and should be included on any list of top spots to watch a game in the Big Ten.

What makes it different from a lot of places, however, is the bar scene. While it’s improved enormously in the last few years, you can’t sleep on the house party scene. If you’re looking for a truly unique experience to an MSU football game, wake up at 8, go to a house party, throw five bucks in for a cup at the keg. At 10:30 or so buy a case of beer and head on campus. Feel free to pop open one of those beers once on campus and make your way to the tennis courts. At that point, hold on for dear life.

Postgame there is a mandatory nap time from 4-6. Then shower, get yourself together, and find a new house party. At some point in the night, make your way to Richards American Cafe.

The food scene is honestly pretty strong in East Lansing. It has all the staples of a good college town, but at some point you will need to get a wrap.

Oh, and at every moment you’re not drinking or eating, you should check your phone for the latest from The Only Colors.


And he’s right, you really should. Thanks for the time, Kyle! Give Kyle and The Only Colors a follow on Twitter, and check out their work on Michigan State at TOC, too. Thanks for taking the time out to talk with us at OTE!