Since Bill O'Brien took over at Penn State, he's tried to distance his team from those of former coach Joe Paterno. And Tuesday, the program took another step in doing that by making a bold statement with a slight jersey change.
The university announced that Penn State, which has one of the most iconic uniforms in all of college football, would wear blue ribbons on their uniforms to support victims of child abuse in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the university and the State College community.
The team also, for the first time, will add the names of the Nittany Lions to the back of their jerseys to acknowledge the players who decided to stick with Penn State despite NCAA sanctions that have placed the program on scholarship restrictions and a four-year bowl ban.
Coach O'Brien says after speaking with some members of the team, they made the decision together to add names to the uniforms. Players indicated the names on their jerseys also mean they will hold each other accountable to uphold the traditions of Penn State football, both on and off the field.
"We want our fans to know and recognize these young men," O'Brien said. "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."
Nine players left the Penn State program in the wake of the sanctions, including offensive stars running back Silas Redd and receiver Justin Brown. But several members of the senior class held a press conference to announce their decision to stay with the program and several recruits also have announced their intention to follow through on their commitment come signing day.
Penn State opened fall camp Monday and claimed 90 percent of the team returned, though several of those players were nonscholarship. Because of the NCAA sanctions, Penn State will not be eligible to win their division or a Big Ten title in addition to not being able to participate in a bowl game.
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