Back in 2013, when Michigan State changed one of their practice fields from grass to field turf, a 8-by-8 rock weighing about 800 pounds was unearthed.
Instead of having the excavators haul the rock away, Mark Dantonio found a way to incorporate it into the Michigan State program, and "Moving The Rock" was born, according to a piece in the Lansing State Journal. At the beginning of the week the rock is spray painted with the opponent of the week on it, and a few days later, the fun starts.
Come Thursdays during the season, a group of players are chosen to grab a rope tied around the boulder to turn it over. Sometimes guys are chosen by class, other times they're chosen by position, and sometimes the method is completely random.
“It just sort of happened,” MSU offensive lineman Jack Conklin told the LSJ. “It’s one of those things Coach D. comes up with and it becomes something.”
One Thursday, the specialists were chosen...and while they pulled with everything they had, they couldn't budge the boulder, so another position group helped them to get the rock to flip.
The Spartans head down to Texas for their semifinal prep against Alabama, and the rock won't be making the trip, but "moving the rock" has taken on a life of its own throughout the course of the seasons, becoming a sort of battle cry among the players.
And to clear up Conklin's comments about how the whole thing started: In Dantonio's program, nothing "just sort of happens," everything has a reason.