Penn State announced Tuesday afternoon that it will change its uniforms for the 2012 football season.
The Nittany Lions will wear a blue ribbon on the front of their jerseys and will also have the players names on the back of the jerseys.
The blue ribbons will be on there to stand in support of all victims of child abuse while the names on the back are there to recognize the players that stayed through the sanctions and to “hold each other accountable to uphold the traditions of Penn State football.”
“I’m proud that our players want to be part of the University’s efforts to help victims of child abuse,” coach Bill O’Brien said in the release announcement. “We hope our fans join us in wearing blue ribbons to all Penn State home games. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children everywhere.”
O’Brien also discussed the names on the back.
“We want our fans to know and recognize these young men,” O’Brien said. “They have stuck together during tough times, and I commend them for the leadership they have shown. Moving forward, I’m deeply committed to honoring Penn State’s traditions, while building a bright future for our football program.”
While the blue ribbons make sense and will probably will be welcomed by all, the additoin of names surely will be debated among Penn State fans, alumni and students as the uniforms have been regarded as a symbol of the team for decades. O’Brien, in fact, stated multiple times since he was hired that he would not change the uniforms.
The release of the Freeh report and the ensuing NCAA sanctions, however, changed all of that.
The NCAA sanctions are unprecedent and allowed the free-for-all re-recruitment of all Penn State players. As preseason camp started Monday, nine players on the roster transferred to other schools.
There had been rumors since then that the uniforms were going to get names to recognize those who stayed. O’Brien’s statement today backs that up.
Will the names stay on the jerseys after this year?
Hard to say, but given this new era – and the stated reason of accountability – it might be hard to take them off.
Marty Valania covers football for nittanylionsden.com. Follow him on @EastRecruiting on Twitter.