UNIVERSITY PARK - Upon becoming Penn State's new head football coach in January, among the first questions asked of Bill O'Brien: "Are you going to change the uniforms?"
Emphatically, he said no.
Many traditionalists, including yours truly, appreciated the response. In fact, I don't believe it was O'Brien's place to make that judgment.
But the severe sanctions brought by the NCAA changed everything, and beyond the four-year bowl ban and significant reduction of scholarships, O'Brien was told on July 23 - two weeks before camp - that his entire roster could transfer and be eligible anywhere else immediately.
Delivered news that easily surpassed an opponent putting all 11 in the box, O'Brien called an audible.
As he scrambled to keep his team together, he decided those remaining should be honored so even your grandmother could see the names of every Lion, backs against Mount Nittany, still standing.
"I want people to recognize these kids," O'Brien said during PSU media day on Thursday.
O'Brien spent some late nights talking with his players in his office, senior leaders like linebacker Michael Mauti and fullback Mike Zordich, to gauge opinion.
The two are steeped in Penn State history, having followed their fathers - both former Lions, both former NFL players - into the program.
Their jerseys will likely be among the most worn by Penn State students and fans this year.
"It might take a little getting used to, but who can argue with this?" Mauti, No. 42, said Thursday. "Why wouldn't you want to show the world the guys that committed to the program and the names that have sacrificed and helped the program move through this?
"I understand the uniform's been a [PSU] symbol, but at the same time, this is a new era and a new deal."
Zordich, No. 9, knows some older alumni might not like it, but he believes the extraordinary circumstances justified the change.
"Even with all my history around here, I like the reasoning behind it," he said. "We're going through really tough times. Nobody has ever gone through something like this at Penn State, and for Coach to want the people to know everybody who has gone through this and stayed through it, I have no problem with it."
Zordich and Mauti were two of the spokesmen who stood in front of a large contingent of players who pledged their commitment after the sanctions.
"We kept hearing the team was falling apart when most of the guys weren't going anywhere," Zordich said.
Mauti proudly said 78 of 85 scholarship players remained.
"We only lost three or four starters, and none on defense," he said.
The uniform tweak was not a hard sell.
"He [O'Brien] talked to the team about it," Zordich said. "The guys all thought it was a great idea. Some older alumni and some of the more traditional fans and students may not like it, but you've got to do what you've got to do in this kind of situation."
He paused and added, "This is not a normal situation, and any advantage you can gain you should take."
On the front of the jersey will be a Big Ten patch (also new this year for all teams) and the Nike swoosh. A blue ribbon signifying the fight against child abuse - "the most important patch on the uniform," O'Brien called it - will go somewhere, although there's not much room left on the jersey.
On the pants or even helmet, maybe?
Bigger-picture questions for another day are how many years the names will appear on the jerseys - from this view, the length of the sanctions sounds right, followed by a re-evaluation - and whether it will carry over to the other sports.
While the uniform is another sidebar element to all that's gone on, "They won't define us," Mauti said. "It's not about the uniforms. It's about the values we hold dear to us. We could wear pink, and it wouldn't matter."
Given that alternative, the names on the blue and white uniform will be better. Then again, Penn State's first uniforms, in 1887, were pink and black.
The Lions went undefeated that year - 2-0, shutting out Bucknell twice.