The debate on whether or not Penn State should alter its jersey design will continue until college football ceases to exist. The topic was in hibernation since the Nittany Lions rolled out the nameplates for a second consecutive year in 2013, but it has flared up yet again.
Last week, running back Bill Belton sent out the following tweet about how Penn State doesn't receive new gear like other teams do:
Every team is getting new uni's man. I'm sick we are not getting something ill for the season.— Bill Belton (@W3BII) April 17, 2014
Recently, four schools announced that their players will be wearing new threads in 2014. It's safe to assume Belton's tweet stems from this.
Former Nittany Lion wide receiver Allen Robinson—who will hear his name called early in the upcoming NFL draft—chimed in with a similar opinion on the matter:
It would only be right if penn state got new jerseys. New era, new jerseys. Let franklin have his own era— Allen Robinson (@Djjango8) April 21, 2014
The response to Belton's tweet was pretty much expected. Some agreed with him, while others vehemently did not. One fan even suggested that Belton go elsewhere if he wanted a new look:
If Bill Belton wants "somethin' ill" he can go to Illinois. Enjoy the losing record while wearing them snazzy new unis.— Alex (@psualex) April 21, 2014
Some fans defended their opinion to not touch the uniforms by saying that players should worry more about their play than what they look like. Yet decisions regarding the uniforms would be made well in advance of the season. Insinuating the team's performance would be affected by a revamped look is sensationalizing the decision.
Should Penn State implement Oregon-like changes if it alters the jerseys? Absolutely not. That's probably what some people are afraid of, and rightfully so. But what about simpler, more subtle changes? Would adding a new element like the university's name across the chest really be an upheaval?
The younger generation—these players—welcomes the flashy uniforms more than the older generation does. Still, it's possible to roll out a new design that both pleases the players and sits well with fans and alumni. The changes don't have to be extreme, especially considering how simple the jerseys already are.
Do you think Penn State should change its uniforms?
When it comes down to it, though, the opinions of fans and alumni don't matter with regards to this decision. It's the opinions of the players that matter.
When then-head coach Bill O'Brien added names to the back of the jerseys before the 2012 opener, the players were thrilled (some language NSFW), according to John U. Bacon in his book titled Fourth and Long: "Whatever the lettermen, alumni and fans thought about this break with tradition, the response among the players was unanimous. They loved it."
It's hard to believe the team wouldn't react the same way if given a newer uniform option.
Let's face it—the uniforms Penn State wears in 2014 and beyond won't affect the number of wins and losses the team has. They won't change how many yards Christian Hackenberg throws for in a certain game, nor will they convince Mark Emmert to undo his colossal wrong anytime sooner.
But if the players want to make some changes to the current uniforms, they deserve to have their opinions considered. Just because they want to switch things up a bit doesn't make them any less of a Penn Stater.