First went the statue of the emperor, next comes his clothes?
As enduring an image of the university as Joe Paterno himself, Penn State is actively considering an update to their (seemingly) old-as-time-itself football uniforms in the interest of distancing itself from not just the "Sandusky era," but the decades of Joe Paterno as well. As reported by the Reading Eagles' Rich Scarcella, a conference call between O'Brien and a group of "football parents" took place the night of Tuesday, July 24. The discussion touched on topics generally related to the concerns parents would have for their athlete-students student-athletes (player safety, O'Brien's commitment to PSU, etc.), but the new Head Coach did mention there were discussions about updating the Penn State uniform, itself a tradition:
O'Brien also told the parents that he has talked to Nike about changing Penn State's plain blue and white uniforms, a staple of the program for decades under former coach Joe Paterno. He also said he's looking to put names on the back of the jerseys.
Some items to point out: this section of the article is written as a summary, not as quotes. Notably, other (realistically, more important) topics include actual quotes from Scarcella's source who attended the call. It's plausible to assume that the only change discussed was the adding of names to the back of the uniform, and that the source (and so Carcella) incorrectly interpreted the "has talked to Nike" as something separate from the names. But… the stitching of names onto jerseys generally isn't done by the uniform supplier itself; instead teams' equipment managers or unaffiliated local shops do this work. O'Brien probably knows this, so let's call this story legit (legit that they're reviewing changing the uniforms, not that that means they'll actually end up doing it.)
Quick Analysis: They're really in a damned if they do, damned if they don't situation. If they keep the current uniform, they're effectively wearing a Navy and Blue (Scarlet) Letter every time they take the field and it's just "for Penn State, it's still business as usual." If they scrap (or fundamentally modify) their current uniforms, it appears reactive, as if Penn State really isn't bigger than its "Institutional Failure" of the last 15 years. As to adding player names to the jerseys? Cynically, that seems like it could an effort to be more in-tune with the supposed "look at me" generation of recruits, and this makes them more easily identified (and marketed) to the NFL. I don't buy this completely, being that sports, even the NCAA, has had "showboats" out there well before the last ten years or so, and this supposed "Golden Age of College Sports" where it was devoid of such characters never really existed, anyway.
The uniform "corner" of the internet has been abuzz about the concept of a change happening for a few weeks, and the consensus was generally to keep the current uniforms as-is, but change the helmet from white with a blue stripe to blue with a white stripe. Subtle, yet still completely obvious. "We've changed, but but we're still the same." (or some other hokey-sounding but genuinely heartfelt marketing slogan).
Finally, let me point out that Penn State's Uniforms haven't been completely immutable. Just last year they got rid of the contrasting collar and sleeve details. Of course, that was to make the uniforms look more, well, "traditional," but small (read: tiny) changes have occurred.
Source: Reading Eagle via ESPN