North Texas, Michigan State, ESPN saga over 'Mean Green' usage comes to an end

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 16: Wide receiver Jalen Guyton #9 of the North Texas Mean Green celebrates with tight end Kelvin Smith #87 after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes, on September 16, 2017 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Briefly, it seemed like a new rivalry was bubbling to the surface between North Texas and Michigan State.

Well, sort of.

In an ESPN commercial promoting Saturday night’s game between Michigan State and Michigan, MSU was referred to as “Mean Green.” North Texas, whose teams are called the “Mean Green,” wasn’t too happy about it, and athletic director Wren Baker voiced his displeasure on Twitter.

First, here’s what the ESPN commercial looked like:


And here’s Baker’s response:


Baker really took this seriously and told USA Today that the school’s attorneys were preparing cease and desist letters for both Michigan State and ESPN. North Texas has used the “Mean Green” name back to the 1960’s when future NFL Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene was a star defensive lineman for the school.

Per USA Today, Baker also took issue with Michigan State using “Mean Green” as a descriptor for alternate uniforms the basketball team wore in 2016.


Any animosity that may have existed quickly dissipated, however. Baker spoke with officials from ESPN and Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis and things were resolved.


ESPN told USA Today’s Dan Wolken that the promotional commercial is “being adjusted” and Michigan State had no involvement in its creation.

“This was an honest oversight and the spot is being adjusted to remove the Mean Green reference. We have been in touch with leadership at North Texas and they are appreciative. Michigan State had no involvement in the creation of the promo spot,” ESPN said.

Crisis averted.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!