Let’s address the elephant in the room. NC State did not steal “Our State” from Mississippi State. Sure, the Bulldogs put up billboards with “Welcome to Our State” in 2011 and NC State did the same a year later. That’s not stealing. You don’t own those words, Mississippi State. And even if you did, there are subtle differences there that make them unique to each version of the billboards. Just ask Vanilla Ice …
But seriously, let’s look at the two billboards in question:
On the left, there’s Dan Mullen and a sunset, and on the right, just the words. It might not mean much to you, but you probably think there’s no difference between Tag Team’s Whoomp There It Is and the far superior Whoot There It Is by 95 South. If you take Coach Mullen off of the billboard, no one even knows that it’s a Mississippi State sign. I’d even bet that a good majority of out-of-staters see the visor and remember the Bulldogs’ 0-4 record against Top 25 teams and think they’re in South Carolina. But the sunset is solid because it subliminally forces passers by to think about the west, and when you’re an SEC school, you want to do whatever it takes to disassociate with the SEC East. That’s also the view of Mississippi that you’d see if you’re standing in Alabama where all of their conference’s success lives.
Hypothetically, if a school DID want to rip off another school’s slogan, Mississippi State is probably a good place to start. According to US News and World Report, 18% of MSU undergrads choose marketing as their major. Mississippi State has been home to famous alums who have brought great things to America, like John Grisham who is loved by all for his novels-turned-films like The Firm, The Client, Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, and Skipping Christmas that later became Christmas with the Kranks starring Tim Allen. George W. Bryan is the Senior Vice President of the Sara Lee corporation, maker of Jimmy Dean Sausages, which is what you buy when the stores are out of Bass Farm or Neese’s. Also there’s Hartley Peavey, founder of Peavey Electronics and pioneer of Peavey amplifiers used by such acts as Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Clink Black and oh my God I hate Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs are so bad they are one of just 6 SEC teams not to be ranked in the pre-season polls. Yes, you read that correctly. The pre-season poll included 8 SEC teams, meaning that voters went out of their way to overrate the league and still left Mississippi State out. They were probably still upset about the Bulldogs being #1 in the country in week 11 of last year after a 9-0 start with HUGE wins over top-10 LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M (who ultimately ended up with a combined 15 losses that year). In fairness to Mississippi State, they did make a strong push towards the end of the season. No, not in their rivalry game against Ole Miss, they lost that game pretty handily. After that, when they moved up three spots in the final CFP poll without playing a game just to get the SEC one more spot in the access bowls (and actually knocking NC State out of the Belk Bowl, in an odd bit of symmetry). How’d they do there? Oh, they got embarrassed by Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs open up as a 6.5 point favorite over an NC State team with a laughably soft non-conference schedule, wins against the weak bottom half of a division carried entirely by the success of its top two teams, and losses against any quality opponent that they faced all season long. Wow. Maybe NC State IS copying Mississippi State.