Penn State Football: 2012 Uniforms to Feature Names on Back
Individual names will be added to the back of Penn State's uniforms for the first time in the 126 years the university fielded a football team, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.
"We want our fans to know and recognize these young men," first-year coach Bill O'Brien said in a press release. "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."
A blue ribbon supporting all victims of child sex abuse will also be added to the uniforms, Penn State said.
The changes announced are specifically for the 2012 uniform. A team spokesman said there have been no discussions about keeping the names for 2013 and beyond.
"I'm proud that our players want to be part of the university's efforts to help victims of child abuse," O'Brien said. "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."
Speculation on adding individual names gained momentum Monday, when O'Brien told reporters that if an unprecedented uniform change did occur, he'd be upfront about why he chose to do so.
"These guys were enthused about the fact their names would be on the back of the jerseys," O'Brien told the school's athletics website, GoPSUSports.com, following Tuesday's practice. "They understood the reason why, and we had a lot of communication on it and at the end of the day we felt good about the decision."
Not all are in favor of the move, instead bowing to the tradition of plain blue and white jerseys that was long upheld by the late Joe Paterno, who hated the idea of adding names to the back because he didn't want any player thinking he was bigger than the team.
One needs to only scan the social media sites and fan message boards for that.
Others have come out in support of the change, and some, frankly, could care less.
“The entire country needs to know these kids,” former wide receiver Pat Mauti, the older brother of linebacker Michael Mauti, wrote on Twitter.
“It will ruffle some feathers but you know what, you're not the ones who went through all this. These kids are the 1s playing and have been through more in 9 months than most will go through in a lifetime. Let them have fun n play ball.”
Said former quarterback Daryll Clark: "If it was me, I would leave them nameless. It just looks better to me. I don't know. It's really no big deal."