In a surprising move prior to the 2012 season, newly-appointed head coach Bill O’Brien decided to do something that had never been done at Penn State before. The coach wanted the players that stayed with the program to be appreciated for what they had to deal with.
O’Brien started a new tradition by putting players’ names on the back of the famed blue and white jerseys. This was a huge move and one that was looked down upon by many alumni and fans.
It was a purity thing for the Nittany Lions. Keeping the names off the jerseys made for an almost united feel for the team and prevented the promotion of singularity.
Players were forced to earn respect by their play alone and their name would come with that hard-earned respect. Now, each player has been rewarded with name recognition– and it can only be categorized as a good thing. It was a reward for sticking with the program after the scandal that forced a postseason ban and influenced the transfer of many players.
After Penn State’s solid 2012 season that resulted in a surprising 8-4 record and opened the eyes of many, including the NFL, to the Nittany Lions. After turning a team that looked like it had no chance to compete into one of the Big Ten’s best teams in just an offseason, the NFL came calling for O’Brien.
The first-year coach turned down the tempting offer and said he would be staying in Happy Valley for at least one more season. The implementation of names on jerseys was his thing that he, along with the players, decided would be the first step into a rebirth of a program.
This needs to stay in tact because it shows the progression of Penn State out of its horrid past and into a promising future.