Penn State players might have a slightly different look when they take the field this fall, or they might not.
But Penn State isn't about to turn into Oregon.
Nittany Nation stirred last week after Guido D'Elia, Penn State's director of communications and football branding, told a group of students that the team was considering some minor adjustments to its football uniforms. The team would ditch the color trim bordering its jerseys (white trim for home jerseys; blue trim for road jerseys).
In most cases, such a comment wouldn't move the needle. But Penn State's uniforms are steeped in tradition. Like head coach Joe Paterno, they're old-school, no frills and beloved. And they don't change very often.
I corresponded with D'Elia earlier today about the potential changes. Two quick notes:
No changes or alterations are official. D'Elia simply was wondering about whether the trims needed to be there or not
"We're not about to fundamentally alter our look anytime soon," D'Elia wrote in an e-mail
The trimming-the-trims idea isn't exactly new regarding Penn State.
Here's D'Elia in a New York Times story from November 2005:
Rather than modernize its famous plain uniform, D'Elia said, Penn State might eliminate the small white stripes around the collars and sleeves of the blue shirts. Such a retro look emphasized the stability of the Penn State brand, he said.
"We can't outstripe the rest and we're not about to," D'Elia said.
There's also this, from the Centre Daily Times' Jeff Rice:
The reason Penn State hadn't returned to the single-toned, old-school look earlier was because Nike couldn't match the color of the cuff material to the color of the jerseys. Recently, though, Nike has again switched materials, and the newer version doesn't tear as easily. Penn State has options. Just remember, while D'Elia is pushing for the switch, there's still a chance the uniforms could stay the way they are. As he pointed out, many of the players roll their sleeves under anyway, and the trim around the neck is only noticeable at the front. We're talking changes that people sitting above Row 30 probably wouldn't even notice.
It's naive to think any change, even a small one, will be welcomed by all. But even if this goes down, Penn State won't have a drastically different look. The Lions will still look old school, perhaps even more so.
I think most folks will be fine with the unis in the long term.