Earlier today it was announced that the 2012 Penn State uniforms would be breaking with tradition and feature player names on the back of the jerseys. They'll also feature a blue ribbon on the front to recognize the victims of child abuse.
The names may or may not be a one time thing moving forward, but O'Brien made the reason clear as to why he chose to put the names on the jerseys for the first time.
"We want our fans to know and recognize these young men," said O'Brien. "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."
Apparently the move to add the names came from a decision made by the players that are there now and if O'Brien's statement holds true it may be the one and only time we see this.
As for the blue ribbons?
"The Penn State community stands with all the victims of child abuse," said Acting Athletic Director David Joyner in a statement. "Coach Bill O'Brien and his football team made it clear they want to support victims and bring awareness to this issue, which affects so many."
While the traditionalist out there may take issue with adding the players names to the back of the uniforms at Penn State to me it's a perfect way to honor those that chose to stick it out in a situation that wasn't their doing or of their control.
There's no doubting the fact that the public face of the university – it's football program – had to find a way to honor the victims of abuse and what better way than by putting a memorial on the uniforms?
As for the names, well that's a debate that's sure to wage on well into the season. For me, it only makes sense. The uniforms of old were tied to everything Joe Paterno and the old way of Penn State football and the athletic program as a whole. Putting the names on for one season is a just reward for those players who chose to stand by their teammates and coaches as well as try and move the program forward in a positive manor.
Do they stay on after this season? I think it may be worth thinking about , but for me, you have to be careful to walk the line of wanting to distance yourself from the horrible details of the last 14 years and completely alienating all of your history as a football program. I say one season is fine by me, but tradition is something to be revered and remembered, not thrown to the trash heap because it's politically expedient.