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Penn State uniform change could make a statement

by on August 02, 2012 12:13 PM

Around the state in the world of sports:

  •  Change is in the air at Penn State.

At Big Ten Media Days last week, first-year coach Bill O'Brien hinted that there may be changes to the Nittany Lions' uniforms on the horizon.

“(It's a) new era of Penn State football,” O'Brien said. “And some of the changes people will have to wait and see until September, on Sept. 1.”

There have been rumors that the entire uniform will be re-vamped. There are also rumors that it will simply sustain some minor tweaks before the season opener, which is less than a month away. It's hard to imagine Nike putting together massive changes in less than a month, but it's certainly plausible.

When he was hired back in January, O'Brien said that he had no plans on changing the uniform. However, following the Freeh report and a plethora of sanctions from the NCAA, uniform changes might help the program move forward.

The simple blue and white uniforms have been synonymous with the program. When one thinks of those classic uniforms, one thinks of Joe Paterno. In light of what has happened here, a total re-design just might be in order.

I do have a suggestion for the Penn State brass: Ask the folks at Nike to design a “Pro-Combat” Penn State uniform. Nike has done this for many schools, including Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida, Pitt, Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, Oklahoma State, Missouri, LSU and Oklahoma.

Penn State could employ the “Pro-Combat” uniform for a Big Ten game at some point this season.

Now, here's the catch.

The sleek uniform would probably be very popular among students, so sell the uniform at the bookstore on campus and at stores off-campus as well. Team up with Nike to donate all of the proceeds from the sale of the jersey to charities that aim to prevent child sex abuse. Penn State could even take it a step further and put the game-worn jerseys up for auction. Donate the proceeds from the online auction as well.

“There's a lot of discussion going on with our football team right now,” O'Brien said. “We've got a group of young men there, like I said, that are sticking together. And there's changes that have taken place at Penn State over the last six months that are reflected already.”

By selling the jerseys and donating the proceeds, a uniform can make a statement.

Not just a fashion statement.

  • Speaking of uniforms, if you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fans with a Mike Wallace No. 17 jersey, you may want to retire it. The contract squabble between Wallace and the Steelers doesn't appear to be getting any better as the team enters the second week of training camp.

Wallace wants Larry Fitzgerald-type money, which is just outrageous. Last season, Wallace caught 72 balls for 1,193 yards — an average of 16.6 per catch. He had eight touchdowns, including a record 95-yard TD against the Arizona Cardinals.

However, his numbers really dipped in the second half of 2011.

With the Steelers signing Antonio Brown to a big extension, it appears unlikely that Wallace will be in a Steelers' uniform past 2012. The Steelers rarely negotiate contracts during the season, so Wallace could sit out this season. That seems unlikely, though. Wallace will probably play out his current deal and test the free agent waters next season.

It will be a huge loss for a team that lacks a player who can stretch the field and make big-time plays in crucial situations.

  • For the first time in a long time, the Pittsburgh Pirates head into August very much in the playoff chase.

They're chasing the red-hot Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central, but are in line for a wild card berth. Division titles and playoff berths are new lingo for a new generation of Pirates' fans, many of whom have never witnessed a winning season.

For those of you who are new to pennant races: It's only August. There's a lot of time left on the baseball calendar. A losing streak isn't the end of the world, and a winning streak doesn't salt anything away at this point.

Back in 1990, the Pirates made their first playoff appearance since 1979. That team had the “Outfield of Dreams” featuring Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla. However, the surprising Reds ousted them from the postseason, four games to two.

Perhaps it's time for a re-match?

Stay tuned.

Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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