The iconic Penn State uniforms could be getting another tweak. While nothing has been announced, there have been rumblings about some small changes to the Nittany Lions uniforms, but an Instagram post from incoming running back Nick Scott show a bigger potential change than expected: numbers on the helmets.
In 2012, when trying to create just the right amount of distance from Joe Paterno's tenure — still a very touchy subject in State College — Bill O'Brien opted to put names on players' uniforms for the first time, to honor the players who decided to stay with the program through massive NCAA sanctions. That effort was met with an outcry of criticism from traditionalists.
This wouldn't be the first time Penn State helmets have had numbers on them. Numbers first appeared in 1957 and continued until 1961. They then came back for Paterno's first season in 1966, but were eliminated again in 1974, except for the last game of 2012, when all of the players wore No. 42 on their helmets to honor injured player Michael Mauti.
Ron Musselman of the Centre Daily Times has a good breakdown of Penn State uniform changes through 2012:
- In 1951, the blue stripe appeared on the helmet for the first time.
- Numbers were put on helmets for the first time in 1957, eliminated from 1962-65 before returning again in 1966, Paterno's first season, and going until 1974.
- White shoes were used for the first and only time in the 1979 Sugar Bowl.
- In 1999, the postseason bowl patch was added to the uniforms for the first time.
- Penn State switched from Champion jerseys in 1993, the same year it joined the Big Ten Conference, and a year later, Nike's trademark swoosh appeared on the chest of the jerseys for the first time, creating lots of banter and backlash.
Of course, there will be plenty of "banter and backlash" about this move if it ever comes to fruition. As there would be 50 years down the line if those numbers are removed.