Penn State Uniform Change: Why Last Names on the Jerseys Are a Great Decision

Matt SheehanAnalyst IAugust 7, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 11:  The Penn State Nittany Lions huddle during warmups before facing the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

All right Penn State fans, have you had enough change yet?

First the program is destroyed, then the statue of the once-beloved Joe Paterno is removed and now there is another change we will all see next season. As if the Penn State family needed another change for the worst in their program, right?

Well fear not for more bad news, because the latest story out of State College is the decision to put last names on the back of every jersey this season . For head coach Bill O’Brien, this is a genius decision that should be respected by college football fans everywhere.

Sure, Penn State will have some uproar about this decision because it ruins the tradition of Penn State football. I don’t know about you, but if that tradition includes the monstrosities of what have happened in the last two decades, I wouldn’t want to follow tradition too closely.

Let’s face it, Penn State needs to start from scratch and give itself new tradition to be proud about. The tradition of the past is so stained not even OxiClean could help, but starting with the baby steps of the new jerseys is actually a big step forward. It gives the college football world something new to look at and something new to associate with Penn State football.

Is a giant logo on the helmet and a lion mane on the collar of the jersey? No, but something as small as extra letters on the jersey is a huge different from the bland and traditional jerseys Penn State dons.

But why do they need last names? Aren’t names on the jerseys all about the individual, breaking up the team unity that Penn State has miraculously held through all this drama?

No, not at all in this case.

Back in my heyday I remember my high school football coach uttering the words, “You play for the name on the front, but you are accountable for the name on the back.” Meaning that the team is who you play for, and your actions on the field will reflect the person behind the face mask, and the players on Penn State fully deserve to be recognized.

Think about this; based on actions they were in no way involved in, the players will not be able to compete in a bowl game for four years. That’s so long, there will be two presidential elections before they will possibly see another bowl game. The current players had the option of abandoning the sinking ship with no penalty, but all but 10 players have decided to stick with O’Brien and the rest of their team to maintain some glory in Happy Valley.

This is a stellar decision, because after years of absence of accountability it’s good to see that the right people are people held accountable for their right decisions.