Penn State Football’s Retro Uniforms: Five Takeaways

With the recent announcement that Penn State football will don retro uniforms for the Sept. 30 contest against Indiana at Beaver Stadium, Nittany Lion tradition is getting a modern update.

Here are five takeaways:

They headline the throwback day (not just game)

Brad Keen arrived at Penn State nearly three years ago as assistant athletic director for marketing. Since then, he’s been busy. He oversees the Stripe Out promotion and helped spearhead the 360-degree fireworks display before last year’s Ohio State game. And when he first learned about the retro uniforms, he saw a bigger opportunity.

“For me, the fun actually begins now,” Keen said. “Everyone does a throwback uniform, but we’re going to have the ultimate throwback game.”

Keen expanded, saying he’ll start focusing on making the entire day have a retro feel, saying he’ll look into incorporating throwback elements into the video boards, advertisements, music and other aspects. Keen and his team have three months to finalize the details, and when you look at their past highlights, expect big and bold, Keen’s trademarks.

The team absolutely loves them

As usual, the football team did an absolutely great job of giving fans an inside look on social media. Senior wide receiver Josh McPhearson modeled the new uniform for the team, and you can check out a video of the Lions’ reaction by clicking here. Within a few days after the announcement, the video boasted 167,000 views. If fans and recruits receive the new uniforms with even a fraction of this enthusiasm, this is a runaway smash hit for everyone, and it kind of already feels that way.

Spider’s role and insight

Involved in this project was Brad “Spider” Caldwell, all-around great guy and everyone’s favorite former equipment manager (though Spider’s true value can’t be expressed by a mere job title). Currently, Spider works in alumni relations for Athletics.

“One of the things he kept telling me was it’s being done in the right way,” Keen said. “He said it’s something that, ‘I think the kids are really excited, and I think the fans are going to be excited.’ He said, ‘I think it’ll be positive,’ and that’s what we’ve seen. He was so excited and overall his reaction is really positive.”

Marketing guru settling into role

We also learned that Spider’s impact went beyond the surface — doesn’t it always? Keen worked at Wake Forest and Vanderbilt before coming to Penn State, and he figured he’d work here for a few years before moving on again. When Spider heard this, he told Keen to come see him again in a year. You’ll change your mind, Spider seemed to say, because he didn't believe him. Well, Keen just bought a house last month, so yeah, Spider knows a thing or two about the stronghold that Penn State can have on you.

Available for fans

Keen didn’t go into specifics, but he did say that he expects select items to be available for sale to the public, meaning fans can scoop up the cool, retro look for their personal collection. Follow us on social media (@HappyValleyPSU), as we’ll share details when and if they become available. 

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