The Michigan State football program will wear a Block “S” on one side of its helmets during Saturday’s game against Indiana (12 p.m. on ABC) in honor of former head coach George Perles, who passed away in January at age 85.
Perles, who played offensive and defensive tackle for the Spartans from 1956-58, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State in 1960. After brief stints as a high school coach in Chicago and metro Detroit, he accepted a job as the defensive line coach at his alma mater in 1967.
Perles was then hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1972, where he was credited as one of the architects of the famed “Steel Curtain” defense. The Steelers won four Super Bowls during his tenure as the defensive line coach (and later defensive coordinator), which ended when he became the head coach of the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars in 1982.
Later that year, Perles broke his contract with the Stars when he was offered the head coaching position at Michigan State. Over the next 12 seasons, he led the Spartans to two Big Ten titles and seven bowl appearances, including a victory in the 1988 Rose Bowl.
Perles – who also served as Michigan State’s athletic director from 1990-92 – was fired in 1994 after an internal investigation uncovered various infractions, including grade tampering by an athletic administrator. The Spartans forfeited five wins from that season, though the NCAA subsequently cleared Perles of any wrongdoing.
Perles finished his Michigan State tenure with a 73-62-4 record, including three bowl wins. He later served 12 years on the university’s board of trustees.
The Block “S” dates back to Perles’ first year as head coach in 1983. It remained on Michigan State’s helmets through the 1994 season, then returned in 2001-02 under then-coach Bobby Williams. The rest of the Spartans’ uniform remains unchanged, as they’ll wear the Block “S” helmet with green jerseys and white pants.
Check out more photos of Michigan State’s throwback helmets below:
Photos courtesy of @MSU_Football on Twitter.