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Nitt Links taking a wait and see approach about new uniform changes

Submitted by on February 25, 2011One Comment
Projected uniforms adapted from original image obtained at Chris Creamer's Sportslogos.net

Just 8 years ago, back in 2003, Penn State football was in a bit of trouble. The football team was struggling, the atmosphere was stagnant, and fan experience was slowly dwindling behind its peers. The entire program just seemed antiquated and it was definitely affecting recruiting. Penn State turned to a consulting firm out of Pittsburgh and it’s main man, Guido D’Elia.

D’Elia and his consulting firm, Mind Over Media have helped sports teams market their image and create fan excitement. For Penn State, that meant going back to basics and emphasizing its proud tradition of hard work and doing things the Penn State way. It is by no coincidence that the term success with honor has been plastered all over Beaver Stadium, Rec Hall and the BJC. His efforts have successfully made the term synonymous with Penn State athletics.

Photo Credit: Penn State Collegian

Now, turn the clock forward 8 seasons. Those numbered letterings across the luxury suites commemorating Penn State’s undefeated, national championship, and BCS bowl seasons, Zombie Nation blaring through the PA system, official signage around the stadium glorifying past Penn State greats and Paternoville, Penn State Football Eve, the pregame hype videos, an official football centric website and even using those brand new ribbon boards to implore fans to ‘make more noise’ all have D’Elia’s fingerprints on them. He even had a hand in hiring Greg Myford as the associate athletics director for marketing and communications. And to think, D’Elia wasn’t even a permanent employee when he first arrived at Penn State.

Even Guido will admit that he moves at a pace unaccustomed to a fanbase like Penn State’s. His aggressive changes has invigorated part of the fanbase, but upset others adverse to change. The athletic director was swamped with angry emails from season ticket holders upset with the musical selection following D’Elia’s first weekend on the job. And one groundskeeper even once warned him, “If you ever turned up missing, there would be an endless list of suspects.” But D’Elia knows he was brought in to bring Penn State back to the forefront, in an interview done back in 2005, D’Elia calls himself  “the designated trouble-stirrer of change… I’m the lightning rod. I’m Darth Vader. I’m the angel of death.”

And whether you like the changes or not, you simply cannot deny the end result. 2 years after D’Elia was brought in, Penn State was tied for 5th in the Big Ten in terms of sports revenue. Now 6 years later, Penn State tops the conference in football revenue outearning the closest competitor Ohio State by over $6 million.

Major college sports, like Penn State football, must operate more like professional sports businesses and should be sold forcefully to recruits and to younger fans. Penn State must hire “professionals that can manage the image, promote its brand, market its content and recruit its personnel.”

From Zombie Nation and mainstream musical selections to stadium wide White Houses and game specific hype videos, D’Elia has done just that. And he’s not quite done yet.

Speaking to a class at Penn State, D’Elia has indicated that Penn State’s sacred uniforms, considered by many to be one of the best in college football, will be tweaked.

D’Elia indicated the home-uniform white trim around the neck and on the sleeves would be eliminated. Also, the road-uniform blue trim would be eliminated.

Now before many of you start to panic, D’Elia has mentioned exactly that this would happen 6 years ago.

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.

Renderings courtesy of Heritage Sports Art

It isn’t everyday that one of the most recognizable uniforms in sports is tinkered with, but it has happened in the past. Now, knowing such an alteration with one of Penn State’s greatest traditions would not have been approved without Joe Paterno’s consent and given D’Elia’s track record thus far with reviving the Penn State brand out of the stone age, I’d say he gets the benefit of a doubt. I’m just surprised it took 6 years for him to get Joe’s permission.

[Update 3/1/11]

Guido D’Elia confirmed to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN that the changes or alterations are not official. He was simply wondering aloud whether the trims needed to be there or not.

Jeff Rice of CDT also discovers that “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.”

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  • Darren216

    Not a fan. I always thought the trim made the uniforms stand out and created a nice contrast from the home blue or road white. Will be tough to distinguish uniform from long sleeve cold weather wear late in the season. Hope this is the worst of the uniform changes and the helmet remains untouched