Countdown to Blue White: 32 Days: Will There Be More Changes to the Uniforms?
Out of all the changes to occur within the Penn State Football program since Bill O’Brien has been on the job, the uniforms have been the most fluid and perked some of the highest interest.
The situation surrounding the jerseys has been constantly evolving over the past 15 months as evidenced by this brief timeline of statements and events.
- January 7, 2012 — O’Brien says “We are not going to change the uniforms,” during his introductory press conference.
- July 26, 2012 — Following the NCAA sanctions, O’Brien — at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago — hints that changes to the uniforms could be on the way despite his comments in January. “It’s a new era. Changes were probably made in 1966 probably, right? Changes are going to be made in 2012,” said O’Brien.
- August 7, 2012 — On the second day of summer practice and two days before Media Day, the news drops. For the first time ever, players’ names will be on the back of Nittany Lion jerseys — along with a blue ribbon to show support for all victims of child abuse. A tradition that became a staple of the program is no more. After discussing the matter with some players, O’Brien justifies the change of heart by saying he wants members of the team to receive recognition from the fan-base for sticking with Penn State during tough times. The caveat that flew under the radar here was that the decision at the time only applied to the 2012 season and could be reevaluated later, which brings us to this past Sunday.
- March 17, 2013 — Speaking at the Central Pennsylvania National Football Foundation Awards banquet, the question inevitably comes up again about the upcoming season, to which O’Brien says a decision has not yet been made. “Every year will be different. I think you’ll have to wait for the Syracuse game to see what the names are, or what they’re not,” said the head coach.
Two things are known here when delving into this issue. O’Brien is willing to listen to feedback from players. When the 2012 seniors approached him about wearing the number “42” on helmets during the season finale against Wisconsin to honor an injured Michael Mauti, O’Brien helped make it happen. He is also not afraid to make other structural and organizational changes ranging from the weight room to switching team physicians and revamping his support staff and recruiting department.
This is one of the more speculative questions in our series that cannot be supported with any hard numbers or statistics. Players seemed to enjoy having their family name on the uniforms last season. The look was more modern but certainly still far from the likes of Oregon’s constantly changing attire.
Will there be more changes to the uniforms in 2013? Is a return to no names possible?
Conventional wisdom suggests the jerseys will be similar to 2012, but conventional wisdom and Penn State football have not exactly mixed recently either.
This is the second installment of a 33-part series leading up to the Blue White game on April 20. Each day, a football writer from Onward State or StateCollege.com will be examining a question surrounding the Penn State football program. To read Part 1 from yesterday, click here.