A full breakdown of Penn State’s alternate ‘generations of greatness’ uniform

·4 min read

It’s homecoming week at Penn State, and that once again means the football team will bring out its signature alternate uniform. Penn State is not a program that typically digs into the sport of creating alternate looks, but this will be the fourth time the uniform has been worn in five seasons.

To the casual observer, not much may look all that different about Penn State’s carefully designed alternate look, but there are many unique elements to the design that pay tribute to different eras of Penn State football once you begin digging into the look.

The helmet

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The most obvious difference that most will easily pick up on is the addition of a player’s jersey number to the side of the helmet. For a brief period spanning the early-1960s to the mid-1970s (1959-1961 and 1967-1974 to be precise), Penn State wore uniform numbers on the side of the helmet, with a gray facemask. Penn State wore a gray face mask from 1959 through 1986 before switching to the current blue in 1987.

The rest of the details may be easier to overlook without knowing specifically what to look for.

NEXT: The return of a classic sleeve design

White sleeve stripes

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a decade since Penn State removed the white stripes from the bottom of the sleeves on the shoulders and the neckline from the home uniform, and blue sleeve stripes and neckline from the road uniforms. But the sleeve stripes make a return on the generations of greatness uniforms.

The stripes were removed from the uniform to make for an even simpler look for Penn State, but there are many who may not have even noticed they were gone.

Unfortunately, the neckline doesn’t receive the same special treatment. Then again, this particular writer seems to be in the minority in wanting them back in the first place. The neckline does get a special Nittany Lion shrine patch, which is kind of cool even if it is blended so well it appears to be hidden to the naked eye.

A stripe on the pants

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State is known for wearing plain white pants for home and away games, but for a stretch of the majority of the 1950s into the late 1960s, Penn State had a blue stripe along the legs. The stripes make a return on the generations of greatness uniform.

Thankfully, these are a one-time deal with the generation of greatness uniform. We’ll respect the history here, but this is one design element that never needs to return to the Penn State uniform.

NEXT: Look closer at the numbers!

Yes, the numbers are different too!

John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

It may be obvious to some, but a detail that is easily overlooked by those who aren’t as keen to uniform designs may be the different block numbering font used on the alternate uniform. The numbers have a small bit of more flair and accents to mimic the numbering used from the mid-1950s until 1966 before going to a more hard blocky numbering currently seen on the uniform today.

This is one design element that could easily be kept on a more permanent basis, although the numbering currently used is simpler and more basic, which is Penn State’s whole uniform approach.

It’s gotta be the (white) shoes (and blue socks)

John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, a closer look at the feet of Penn State players will show the Nittany Lions are trading in their standard black cleats for a pair of white cleats with a blue Nike swoosh. This is a tribute to the 1979 Sugar Bowl, which seems a bit odd considering Penn State lost as the No. 1 team to Alabama in a battle for the national championship. But when it comes to the shoes, Penn State doesn’t have many alternatives to choose from over the course of the program’s history.

Penn State also swaps out the regular socks for a pair of blue socks with white stripes, a look that was customary in the early 1970s.

Penn State first introduced the Generations of Greatness uniforms for a 2017 game against Indiana. The Nittany Lions skipped wearing the uniform in 2018 but have worn them each of the previous two seasons.

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